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Vince Gilligan: Without Tony Soprano There Would Be No Walter White

Vince Gilligan

The "Breaking Bad" creator/exec producer recalls, after meeting James Gandolfini, "being struck by the disconnect between the scary mob boss and the warm and friendly man who played him."

This story first appeared in the July 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

I've said it many times, publicly and privately. I've said it to friends and strangers alike. But I've never said it on an occasion as sad as this: Without Tony Soprano, there would be no Walter White. I'm pretty sure I said it to James Gandolfini himself the one time I met him. I remember being struck by the disconnect between the scary mob boss I had seen on TV and the warm and friendly man who played him. I don't know why I was so surprised -- it's all just acting, after all. But a guy that good makes you forget. He shook my hand by cupping it in both of his, which I'll also always remember. I felt so honored. What a terrible loss.

Read more tributes to Gandolfini below: 

David Chase on the Last Time He Saw James Gandolfini (Q&A)

Jeff Daniels: James Gandolfini Pushed for 'God of Carnage' Raises

Chris Albrecht: James Gandolfini Stood With Cast in 'Sopranos' Contract Dispute

Marcia Gay Harden: James Gandolfini Helped Me Through My Divorce

HBO's Richard Plepler: James Gandolfini Had 'Compassion for the Underdog'

Patricia Arquette: James Gandolfini 'Slept in His Suit to Stay in Character'

Annabella Sciorra: Working With James Gandolfini Was 'Once-in-a-Lifetime' Experience

Drea de Matteo: James Gandolfini Was a 'King Through and Through'

'Sopranos' Star Dominic Chianese Recalls Parisian Night With James Gandolfini

HBO's Michael Lombardo: James Gandolfini Was 'Ready to Jump' Back Into TV

Edie Falco: Onscreen Love With James Gandolfini 'One of the Greatest I’ve Ever Known'

Jamie-Lynn Sigler: James Gandolfini Made You Feel 'Everything Would Be All Right'

Wounded Warrior Project Co-Founder Remembers James Gandolfini's Charitable Side

'Taxi-22' Producer: James Gandolfini 'Had an Unmatched Detector of Creative Integrity'

Roger Bart: Why I Encouraged James Gandolfini to Pursue Acting