The 20th Anniversary of HBO’s The Sopranos was celebrated in style on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at New York City’s SVA Theater, which hosted a star-studded reunion event that brought cast members and producers from the acclaimed series back together. It was an opportunity to reflect on the show that is heralded as ushering in the new Golden Age of TV, turning serialized storytelling into an art form and paving the way for much of what has come since.

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That they, and the fans, were there 20 years later was actually surprising to a number of people involved, particularly series creator David Chase. Then again, he’s always been perplexed by the show’s success, as he revealed on 60 Minutes back in 2005.

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James (left) on ‘The Sopranos.’ Getty Images

Marring the festivities, of course, was the fact that actor James Gandolfini, who stood firmly at the center of the show as Tony Soprano, was not there to join them, having died of a heart attack at the age of 51 on June 19, 2013. His absence was something that a number of his co-stars addressed at the event via mini-interviews and their on-stage appearance. Scroll down to see how the cast remembered late star James at the special event!

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(Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)

Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano)

“His presence is felt from the moment when I looked in Edie [Falco]’s eyes and gave her a hug,” Jamie-Lynn told the Associated Press in a video interview that included additional comments from cast members below. “It’s, like, I think he would have loved and hated this all at the same time. He was at the center of the Sopranos universe, and we would not be here without him. He made us all who we were and made us better actors and better people, whether he believed that or not.”

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(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti)

“I see some of these people from time to time, but we haven’t all been together, I think, since his funeral. So, yeah, it’s bittersweet. We miss him. It’s not the same without him,” Michael shared.

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(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Lorraine Bracco (Jennifer Melfi)

“He was so great. He was such a pain in my butt and I loved him; I adored him. I think he was really one of the great actors that I’ve worked with. I had the blessing to sit across from Jimmy,” Lorraine said.

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(Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)

Steven Van Zandt (Silvio Dante)

“He’s always in our thoughts,” Steven told The Hollywood Reporter. “He was so funny. He was a character actor in his own head, and that really set the tone for all of us, which helped make the show more of an ensemble. He was so used to doing movies, so he would try to quit the show every day. ‘That’s it! I’m done!’ He went from two pages a day in movies to having to learn seven pages a day. I swear, his brain would just fry. We would work from six in the morning until ten at night, learn another seven pages for the next day, and when you’re not used to it? It was a shock to his system. But we would talk him into coming back the next day — most of the time.”

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(Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)

Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano)

“It’s funny; I was just saying that his name comes up with some regularity in my life. He’s my friend. It’s so sad, and I miss him being with this group here today. I had no idea how intense this would be or how wrong it feels for him not to be here,” Edie said.