The multi Emmy-award winning 51-year-old actor who is best known for playing Tony Soprano in The Sopranos reportedly suffered a massive heart attack in Rome overnight.

Gandolfini was reportedly in Italy to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival when he died, according to TMZ.

Statements have been released by both Gandolfini’s management as well as HBO itself, who have described the New Jersey born actor as a “special man.”

Mara Mikialian, HBO’s vice-president released a statement to Variety magazine paying tribute to Gandolfini.

“He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect.  He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility.’’

James Gandolfini’s heavy-set build and hard man acting persona led him to be cast in many roles as a mobster, including his first big break in the 1993 film True Romance and, of course, his role as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos.

The Sopranos had recently been voted the ‘best written TV series ever screened in the United States’ by the Writers Guild of America.

Gandolfini is survived by his wife Deborah Lin and their one-year-old daughter as well as a son from a previous relationship.

Image: Getty