Update

Remembering James Gandolfini: Famous Fans Mourn the Actor Online

Steven R. Schirripa, Michael Imperioli, James Gandolfini, Steven Van Zandt and Tony Sirico on The Sopranos

Everett

updated 06/20/2013 AT 5:30 PM ET

originally published 06/20/2013 AT 10:00 AM ET

James Gandolfini’s sudden death of an apparent heart attack at age 51 has stunned the actor’s costars and fans, who were quick to pay tribute to the late Emmy winner known best as Tony Soprano.

“Jimmy treated us all like family with a generosity, loyalty and compassion that is rare in this world,” Gandolfini’s Sopranos costar Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti, said in a statement to PEOPLE. “Working with him was a pleasure and a privilege. I will be forever grateful having had a friend the likes of Jimmy.”

“Fughedabout losing one of the best actors of our time – we lost so much more,” Drea de Matteo, who played Adriana La Cerva, tells PEOPLE in a statement. “Anyone from the Soprano family will tell you he was one of the most generous, real and humble human beings ever, with a presence that could shatter planets when he walked into a room. A king through [and] through. So very sorry for his family.”

The sentiment was shared by those who knew the actor, a “gentle giant” with a “sweet” disposition, as fans took to Twitter to honor his legacy.

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