James Gandolfini Dead at 51

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Ben Cohen
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The iconic actor James Gandolfini has sadly passed away at the relatively young age of 51. From the Guardian:

The actor James Gandolfini, who played mafia boss Tony Soprano on the hit TV series The Sopranos, has died of a suspected heart attack in Italy. He was 51.

Colleagues and fans expressed shock after news broke late on Wednesday. "It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy," said his managers, Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders. "Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply."

Tributes flooded in for an actor who won three Emmys and showed that being fat, bald and playing thugs was no impediment to charisma.

"[James] was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that," David Chase, who created The Sopranos, told TMZ.com. "He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. 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."

While he was best known for the Sopranos, I actually thought his best role was as Lt. Gen. George Miller in the brilliantly funny political satire 'In the Loop'. The following scene is one of the best pieces of verbal sparring in film history and a testament to Gandolfini's total mastery of his profession: