Although rarely seen on the small screen, Robert De Niro has taken the late James Gandolfini’s place in HBO’s Criminal Justice. Gandolfini died after filming the pilot for the show, and will receive a posthumous exec producer credit when the show airs. The future of the series had been in serious doubt following Gandolfini’s tragic and unexpected passing.

Robert De Niro in trouble with the mob in 'The Family'
Robert de Niro in The Family

However, De Niro has agreed to take on the character of Jack Stone in the show based on the 2008 BBC series of the same name. Deadline’s TV Editor, Nellie Andreeva, who revealed the news, said HBO wanted "a great actor whom Gandolfini would have wanted for the role and who would honour Gandolfini's memory with his performance". She added: "I hear their list consisted of one name only, Robert De Niro, who responded and came on board."

In the show, Jack Stone takes on the case of a Pakistani, played by British actor Riz Ahmed, who is accused of murdering a girl on New York's Upper West Side. The original BBC version took on a different case show-by-show, but the updated, American version unfolds over numerous episodes.

This is a style of TV very much brought to the fore by Gandolfini himself, who starred in HBO’s crowning drama, The Sopranos. Playing the father of the titular family, Gandolfini’s overarching role as Tony would go on to become infamous – the founder of the boxset generation, he was called soon after his death. Gandolfini also stars in the movie Enough Said alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a romantic comedy about a woman who falls in love with her masseuse’s ex-husband.

De Niro is currently starring in the comedy The Family.

James GandolfiniJames Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Enough said