Actor James Gandolfini, who rose to fame as mob boss Tony Soprano on the hit HBO drama \"The Sopranos,\" has died of a possible heart attack, the network has confirmed to NBC News. He was 51.
According to HBO, the actor was vacationing in Rome; some reports say he was in Sicily to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival.
Gandolfini had appeared in numerous films before landing the role of Soprano, but it was the panic attack-stricken mob boss who would forever define him. He won critical acclaim and three Emmy Awards and three Screen Actors Guild awards for the role, which he played from 1999-2007 on the groundbreaking show.
\"I dabbled a little bit in acting in high school, and then I forgot about it completely,\" Gandolfini told Vanity Fair in 2012. \"And then at about 25 I went to a class. I don’t think anybody in my family thought it was an intelligent choice.\"
Fans and fellow actors quickly took to social media to mourn.
\"I am heartbroken about James Gandolfini,\" wrote actress Rose McGowan, tweeting a photo of herself with Gandolfini. \"He was a gentle giant and great man.\"
Just last month, HBO ordered seven episodes of his new project, \"Criminal Justice,\" according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Gandolfini\'s most recent movie role was that of a clueless billionaire casino owner in Steve Carell\'s \"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,\" which opened in March.