Michael Gandolfini opens up about playing Tony Soprano in prequel movie
The Many Saints of Newark, the upcoming prequel movie to The Sopranos, already has one of the most brilliant casting decisions ever seen with Michael Gandolfini set to play Tony Soprano. Speaking with Esquire, Gandolfini opened up about stepping into the role previously played by his late father, calling it a “difficult decision.”
“The funny thing is, before the audition, I had never watched a minute of The Sopranos. I was just a kid when he was making it. I would go to the set and ask him what it was about, and he’d say, ‘Oh, it’s about this guy who’s in the mob and kind of goes to therapy.’ The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time,” Michael said.
“It was an intense process. Because, as an actor, I had to watch this guy who created the role, to look for mannerisms, voice, all those things I would have to echo. But then I’d also be seeing my father. I think what made it so hard was I had to do it alone. I was just sitting alone in my dark apartment, watching my dad all the time. I started having crazy dreams. I had one where I auditioned for David and I looked down at my hands, and they were my dad’s hands.”
Though plot details on the film are being kept under wraps, The Many Saints of Newark is set in the era of the Newark riots in the 1960s, when the African Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats. The film features an all-star cast that includes Jon Bernthal (The Punisher), Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), Corey Stoll (The Strain), Ray Liotta (Shades of Blue), Billy Magnussen (Game Night), John Magaro (The Umbrella Academy), Michela De Rossi, and Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr., all of whom’s roles are being kept under wraps, along with Alessandro Nivola (A Most Violent Year), who is set to portray Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Michael Imperioli’s Christopher.
Long-time Sopranos alum Alan Taylor will be directing the 60s-set The Many Saints of Newark, which was written by original creator David Chase along with Lawrence Konner. Chase will also be serving as producer. Though the original series often employed flashbacks to this particular era in Newark history, it’s unknown if any of the actors who portrayed younger versions of Soprano wiseguys will be reprising their roles for the film.
The Many Saints of Newark is scheduled to hit theaters on September 25, 2020.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)