Tony Soprano will always have a place in TV history: A family man and a brutal mobster, one of the first great anti-heroes of the medium.
James Gandolfini, who played Soprano over The Sopranos' eight-year run, will share a place in TV history with his infamous character. But the actor, who died of heart attack Wednesday night in Italy, has a much nobler legacy than the character who made him a star.
As remembrances from Gandolfini's mourning colleagues and admirers surface, the 51-year-old's greatness, and sensitivity, are to be celebrated.
"He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect," HBO, home of The Sopranos, said in a statement.
Kind words like those were often shared while Gandolfini was still with us, too.
David Chase, Sopranos executive producer and the series' creator, sat down withGeorge Stroumboulopoulos in 2011, around the same time he and Gandolfini reunited for the movie Not Fade Away.
Watch the video below to hear what Chase had to say about his colleague, and how the "brutality and cruelty" of Tony Soprano was so the antithesis of Gandolfini's personality.
Gandolfini was vacationing in Italy, visiting the country for the Taormina Film Festival, when he was struck with a heart attack Wednesday night at his hotel. According to People magazine, the Emmy winner's son discovered him collapsed in bathroom of his suite and called an ambulance for help. After arriving at a hospital in Rome, and following attempts to revive him, he was pronounced dead shortly after 10:30 p.m. Earlier Wednesday, he's said to have spent the day holidaying with his family in the region. He leaves behind a wife and their eight month old daughter.