updated 06/20/2013 AT 5:30 PM ET
•originally published 06/20/2013 AT 10:00 AM ET
“Jimmy treated us all like family with a generosity, loyalty and compassion that is rare in this world,” Gandolfini’s Sopranos costar Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti, said in a statement to PEOPLE. “Working with him was a pleasure and a privilege. I will be forever grateful having had a friend the likes of Jimmy.”
“Fughedabout losing one of the best actors of our time – we lost so much more,” Drea de Matteo, who played Adriana La Cerva, tells PEOPLE in a statement. “Anyone from the Soprano family will tell you he was one of the most generous, real and humble human beings ever, with a presence that could shatter planets when he walked into a room. A king through [and] through. So very sorry for his family.”
The sentiment was shared by those who knew the actor, a “gentle giant” with a “sweet” disposition, as fans took to Twitter to honor his legacy.