Television’s most famous crime family is grieving together today, as the cast and crew of “The Sopranos” mourned the death of James Gandolfini on Wednesday. A dozen stars who knew and collaborated closely with Gandolfini on the long-running HBO show issued statements expressing their shock and heartbreak, joining a host of other celebrities remembering the actor.
An immediate outpouring of sympathy came from the closest members of Gandolfini’s on-screen family, beginning with a statement from Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano’s wife, Carmela.
“I am shocked and devastated by Jim’s passing,” she said. “He was a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity, with a kindness and generosity beyond words. I consider myself very lucky to have spent 10 years as his close colleague. My heart goes out to his family. As those of us in his pretend one hold on to the memories of our intense and beautiful time together. The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known.”
Aida Turturro, who played Soprano sister Janice, said, “I’ve not only lost a great friend, but a true brother, on screen and off. James was the most generous actor to work with, but more so, a man with a heart of gold. I love him and my heart goes out to his family.”
And Jamie Lynn Sigler, who played Tony’s daughter Meadow, issued the following statement: “This news has left me heartbroken. I can only imagine the pain his family feels at this time, and my heart goes out to them, especially Deborah, Michael and Liliana. I spent 10 years of my life studying and admiring one of the most brilliant actors, yes, but more importantly one of the greatest men. Jim had the ability, unbeknownst to him, to make you feel like everything would be alright if he was around. I treasure my memories with him and feel so honored that I was an up close witness to his greatness.”
Other cast members were no less heartfelt in their statements, remembering Gandolfini as a beloved friend and father figure in addition to a respected colleague. Steven Van Zandt, who was the onscreen consigliere to Gandolfini’s godfather, issued this statement on behalf of himself and his wife: “I have lost a brother and a best friend. The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time. Maureen and I send our deepest sympathy and love to Deborah, Michael, Lily, and all of Jimmy’s family.”
“Jimmy treated us all like family with a generosity, loyalty and compassion that is rare in this world,” said Michael Imperioli, who played Soprano protégé Christopher Moltisanti. “Working with him was a pleasure and a privilege. I will be forever grateful having had a friend the likes of Jimmy.”
Actor Steve Schirripa said, “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.”
Tony Sirico, who played Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, said of Gandolfini, “He was one of my best friends in life. He helped me with my career and I’m going to miss him. He’s part of my family.”
Gandolfini was also remembered as an incredible mentor and loyal advocate by Joseph R. Gannascoli, who played Vito. In an interview with TMZ, he said, “James is one guy who never turned his back on me. He was the most humble and gifted actor and person I have ever worked with. He was a great man and I will forever be indebted to him.”
And finally, fittingly, came a statement from the members of Journey, whose hit song became synonymous with “The Sopranos” as a focal point in the show’s sad, strange, and much-debated ending. “It’s truly an honor to have been able to share one of the greatest moments ever in TV history with James Gandolfini, ” the band said. “He was an amazing actor — taken way too young — and he’ll be missed. Our condolences go out to his family.”