ALL DUE RESPECT: Multiple outlets are reporting that actor James Gandolfini has passed away at age 51 while on vacation in Italy.
The Sopranos would not have transformed television without his iconic leading performance—menacing, joking, sometimes tortured, sometimes gleeful, usually cocky, always complicated and fully human. Gandolfini made you understand why others saw him as a leader, why Carmella could never break away from that life, and the toll that life took on him. It seems like an impossible acting task, making an audience feel empathy for a brutal mobster, and yet he pulled it off. What a terrible loss.