James Gandolfini was one of the most celebrated actors of his generation. He has, in light of his tragic and unexpected death following a heart attack, been called the father of the box set culture – his performance as the matriarchal mobster Tony Soprano is celebrated as the greatest TV character of all time.

James GandolfiniHe was simply brilliant as Tony

And Sopranos, in turn, is celebrated as the greatest TV show of all time. Its creator, David Chase, worked closely with Gandolfini and saw him rise to prominence as an actor, and he’s opened up on his time with the late actor. "He didn't shape the storyline and he didn't shape the writing, but he taught me a hugely important lesson about the character on the first day of shooting,” he explained in an interview with Long Island Newsday. We were soulmates. We were close in the beginning and the more it became a huge battleship, a corporation and a huge undertaking, the less time we actually saw each other, the less time we spent together discussing creative things.”

James GandolfiniJames Gandolfini will be sorely missed

Aside from his all-encompassing turn as Tony Soprano, the role that he will always be remembered for, he enjoyed a fruitful career on the silver screen and on the stage. He was famously modest, showing his humility and working class routes in his many characters – although usually he played a hard-nosed killer.

He was also troubled, and attended therapy sessions much like Tony visited Dr. Melphy in The Sopranos. He was extremely tortured. I'm not his psychiatrist and it's not for me to talk about his background or upbringing. It's not my place to analyse Jimmy Gandolfini.

James GandolfiniHe died suddenly from a heart attack in Italy