James Gandolfini’s sudden death was met with shock and surprise from both his fans and the acting community – many of whom were intertwined. From TV to film, his performances – usually as a ‘hard man’ but with room for comedic flexibility – memorized both auteurs and audiences alike. In memory of the great man, here are his best moments on screen.

It would be extraordinary not to start with The Sopranos; Gandolfini’s turn as the matriarchal mob boss Mafioso Tony Soprano will always be his most famous role. The HBO masterpiece is often cited as the best TV drama of all time, and he, the most important and well-acted TV character ever. Terrifying yet hilarious, Gandolfini brought an elegance and charm to this brutish role, injecting a modicum of charisma to an otherwise awful man: easily his finest achievement.

James GandolfiniJames Gandolfini
James Gandolfini will be sorely missed

But there was life before Sopranos, and there would be after, too. His turn in True Romance – the Tony Scott-directed, Quentin Tarantino-written film – represented his first ‘big break’ in Hollywood cinema. He played Virgil in the cult classic, and his epic battle with Patricia Arquette’s Alabama, in which she drives a corkscrew through his foot, is still talked about today. Many remember this scene above others in the film, which, considering it stars Samuel L. Jackson, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper and Christian Slater, speak volumes of his talent.

Gandolfini’s talent was perennially noted by one of the finest film critics who ever lived: Roger Ebert. He wrote, on Gandolfini’s role in The Juror: "Gandolfini has a very tricky role, who is about as sympathetic as a man can be who would, after all, kill you. His line readings during a couple of complicated scenes are right on the money. If the movie had been pitched at the level of sophistication and complexity that his character represents, it would have been a lot better." Ebert would also liken Galdolfini to the late, great Marlon Brando.

James GandolfiniGandolfini in one of his many brilliant therapy scenes as Tony Soprano

Serious drama would not define the New Jersey born actor, who enjoyed hilarious roles in both In The Loop and Where The Wild Things Are. In the former, he plays the foul-mouthed Lt. Gen. George Miller who’s square up with Malcolm Tucker made for an unprecedented double act. The latter saw Gandolfini’s voice take centre stage, providing the vocal tones of Max’s best Wild friend, Carol. Not only was he funny, but heart breaking, too.

His appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio gives us an insight into his history, and you can watch it below. In it, he opens up on his working class background; how he prefers to play blue-collar characters and how acting came to him late. He is both confident and modest, remaining truly grateful to those who gave his career a leg up. He was also famously down to earth, and didn’t let his status alter his roots. "Standing in public in other people's clothes, pretending to be someone else. It's a strange way for a grown man to make a living,” he told Vanity Fair.

James GandolfiniJames Galdolfini with his Sopranos co-stars

Throughout his various acting roles, Gandolfini rarely played the leading man. This meant his role in The Sopranos was all the more memorable – that and his enthralling performance. His peers will remember him as one of the industry’s greats who died too young and had so much more to give. RIP James Gandolfini.