(NEW YORK) — Colleagues and friends of James Gandolfini are paying tribute to the actor in the wake of his sudden death Wednesday in Italy. Gandolfini was 51.
David Chase, who created The Sopranos, the hit HBO series for which Gandolfini is best known, called Gandolfini “a genius.”
In a statement, Chase called Gandolfini “one of the greatest actors of this or any time.”
“I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.’ There would be silence at the other end of the phone,” Chase stated, adding that the loss was “crushing” for Gandolfini’s wife and children. “And it’s bad for the rest of the world. He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”
Steven Schirripa, the actor who played mobster Bobby Bacala on The Sopranos, said in a statement: “Jimmy was a dear friend and like a brother to me. He was a great actor and a great father. I will miss him terribly. I am very sad.”
Lorraine Bracco, another Sopranos co-star, wrote that she was “utterly heartbroken.”
“We lost a giant today,” she said in a statement.
And Jeff Daniels, who starred alongside Gandolfini in the Broadway play God of Carnage, said the actor didn’t miss a single one of their 320 performances together in the production.
“Sadly, I now miss him like a brother,” Daniels said.
Gandolfini was a New Jersey native, and the state’s Gov. Chris Christie called the actor’s death “an awful shock” in a statement Wednesday.
“James Gandolfini was a fine actor, a Rutgers alum and a true Jersey guy. I was a huge fan of his and the character he played so authentically, Tony Soprano. I have gotten to know Jimmy and many of the other actors in the Sopranos cast and I can say that each of them are an individual New Jersey treasure …,” Christie said.
The band Journey, whose hit song “Don’t Stop Believin’,” was prominently featured in the last scene of the final episode of The Sopranos, released a statement calling it “an honor to have been able to share one of the greatest moments ever in TV history with James Gandolfini. He was an amazing actor – taken way too young – and he’ll be missed. Our condolences go out to his family. Our condolences go out to his family.”
On Twitter, other celebrities continued to express their sorrow and send condolences to the actor’s family.
Shocked and saddened by James Gandolfini’s passing. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
— Michael J. Fox (@realmikefox) June 20, 2013
So sad to lose James Gandolfini. One of the sweetest, funniest, most generous actors I’ve ever worked with. Sending prayers to his family.
— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) June 20, 2013
James Gandolfini. This is a tremendous loss. A brilliant actor and a wonderful man. Our deepest sympathies to his family. Devastating.
— Michael Chiklis (@MichaelChiklis) June 20, 2013
Sad to hear about James Gandolfini . First met Jimmy back in ’94.He was roommates in NY with Lenny Loftin. Lovely man. RIP Jimmy
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) June 20, 2013
My thoughts and prayers go out to James Gandolfini’s family. An extraordinary actor. RIP, Mr. Gandolfini.
— Robin Williams (@robinwilliams) June 20, 2013
I’m truly heartbroken to hear that James Gandolfini has passed away. He is one of my all time favorite actors. Tragic loss.
— Jonah Hill (@JonahHill) June 19, 2013
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Brandon Griggs, CNN
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Brett Crandall, BYU-Idaho Communications