Stage and screen actor Alex Giannini has died aged 52, his agent has announced. Giannini was last seen opposite Tom Hardy in Legend, the biopic of London gangsters the Krays, which was released in the UK last month.

Giannini passed away before he was due to appear on stage in 'Mack and Mabel' at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth on Friday. The performance was cancelled an hour before the curtain was due to come up for to start the show.

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Writing on twitter Giannini’s agent Felix de Wolfe, announced the actor’s passing tweeting, "The talented and much loved actor @GianniniAlex died suddenly of natural causes yesterday. An incredible life force has left the building."

Giannini portrayed gangster Antonio Caponigro, also known as Tony Bananas in Legend, but has also appeared in films such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Miss Monday and TV shows including ‘The Bill’ and ‘Dalziel and Pascoe’.

On twitter friends and colleagues of Giannini have paid tribute to the actor as news of his passing broke. “Terrible news about lovely Alex Giannini RIP.Thoughts are with his loved ones & all,” actor Hugh Sachs wrote.

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‘I shall raise a large glass of red to you this evening ... A true gent #AlexGiannini #RIP,’ ‘Coronation Street’ actress Wendi Peters wrote. Writing on Facebook, the Theatre Royal thanked guests for their patience on Friday evening and confirmed that all remaining performances of ‘Mack & Mabel’ will go ahead as scheduled.

Watch the trailer for Legend here: