James Gandolfini Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images
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Stars react to death of famed Tony Soprano actor James Gandolfini

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LOS ANGELES -- James Gandolfini's lumbering, brutish mob boss with the tortured psyche will endure as one of TV's indelible characters.

But his portrayal of criminal Tony Soprano in HBO's landmark drama series "The Sopranos" was just one facet of an actor who created a rich legacy of film and stage work in a life cut short.

Gandolfini, 51, who died Wednesday while vacationing in Rome, refused to be bound by his star-making role in the HBO series that brought him three Emmy Awards during its six-season run.

No cause of death was given by HBO and Gandolfini's managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders in a joint statement confirming his death.

Immediately after his death, Gandolfini's fans and colleagues shared their reactions:

- "I am shocked and devastated by Jim's passing. 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." - Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano's wife, Carmela, on "The Sopranos."

- "He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. He was my partner. ... He was my brother in ways I can't explain and never will be able to explain." - David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos."

- "Jimmy treated us all like family with a generosity, loyalty and compassion that is rare in this world. ... Working with him was a pleasure and a privilege. I will be forever grateful having had a friend the likes of Jimmy." - Michael Imperioli, Gandolfini's co-star on "The Sopranos."

- "I admire Jimmy as a ferocious actor, a gentle soul and a genuinely funny man. I am fortunate to have sat across the table from him and am gutted by this loss. I wish his family strength and some semblance of peace." - Brad Pitt, who co-starred with Gandolfini in "True Romance," "The Mexican" and "Killing Them Softly."

- "My heart goes out to his family. James was incredibly talented and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to work with him. He was very committed during the shooting of `True Romance.' I remember Tony Scott saying he slept in his suit in his car to stay in character. His work as Tony Soprano was flawless. It is a real loss to the creative community." - Patricia Arquette.

- "James Gandolfini was a friend and a great actor. He wrote me after portraying me last year, which was a great thrill and honor. I told him I was glad an Italian played me - swear words and all. We laughed together at the fact that tough guys can have a heart of gold. He did, and we will miss him." - Leon Panetta. Gandolfini played then-CIA director Panetta in Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden hunt docudrama "Zero Dark Thirty."

- "If Broadway has a version of a guy you want in your foxhole, Jim Gandolfini was mine. During our time together in `God of Carnage,' we played 320 performances together. He didn't miss one. Sadly, I now miss him like a brother." - Jeff Daniels.

- "It's an awful shock. 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." - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

- "We lost a giant today. I am utterly heartbroken." - Lorraine Bracco, who played Gandolfini's therapist on "The Sopranos."

- "I have lost a brother and a best friend. The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time." - Musician Steven Van Zandt, who played Silvio on "The Sopranos."

- "Fifty-one and leaves a kid -- he was newly married. His son is fatherless now ... It's way too young." - Joe Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore on "The Sopranos."

- "Jimmy was one of the most talented, authentic and vulnerable actors of our time. He was unorthodox and truly special in so many ways. He had the sex appeal of Steve McQueen or Brando in his prime as well as the comedic genius of Jackie Gleason." - Brad Grey, a producer of "The Sopranos."

- "The great James Gandolfini passed away today. Only 51. I can't believe it." - Bette Midler on Twitter.

- "James Gandolfini what a nice guy, so funny and sweet. He will be sorely missed. Our deepest condolences to his family." - Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry on Twitter.

- "My condolences to the family and all those who loved James Gandolfini - a true NJ Great and NJ Original. RIP." - Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Twitter.

- "You will be missed greatly James Gandolfini Maybe best actor ever on a tv series. Salute'" - Comedian Artie Lange on Twitter.

- "awful awful news. James Gandolfini will be missed. He was a great actor. Just great."

- Mia Farrow on Twitter.

- "James Gandolfini. Unbelievably sad news. A fine man." - Steve Carell on Twitter.

-"My thoughts and prayers go out to James Gandolfini's family. An extraordinary actor. RIP, Mr. Gandolfini." - Robin Williams on Twitter.

- "I am so deeply saddened by the untimely passing of sweet James Gandolfini! My heart is broken for his family!! I'm in shock worked with him in "Surviving Christmas"" - Christina Applegate on Twitter.

- "James Gandolfini was a kind, funny, wonderful guy. I'm so lucky to have worked with him. Sending love to his family. Such a sad, sad day. worked with him on "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"" - Olivia Wilde on Twitter.

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