James Gandolfini dies: David Chase's moving statement on losing 'The Sopranos' star

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david-chase-james-gandolfini.jpg James Gandolfini's tragic and sudden death at the age of 51 has shocked Hollywood, and perhaps no one shared a richer creative collaboration with the late actor than "The Sopranos" creator David Chase.

Chase couldn't have found a better fit for the role of Tony Soprano, which made Gandolfini a star and earned him three Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Gandolfini also had a supporting role in Chase's feature directorial debut, "Not Fade Away," which was released last year.

Chase released the following statement about Gandolfini's passing today:

"He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, 'You don't get it. You're like Mozart.' There would be silence at the other end of the phone.

"For [wife] Deborah and [son] Michael and [daughter] Lilliana this is crushing. And it's bad for the rest of the world. He wasn't easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can't explain and never will be able to explain."

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images