One of the biggest question marks surrounding “The Sopranos” prequel movie “The Many Saints of Newark” has been answered: Young Tony Soprano will play an important role in the film’s plot. The antihero at the center of the HBO classic was played by James Gandolfini for six seasons, earning the late actor three Emmy Awards for his performance. Series creator David Chase confirmed news of young Tony’s appearance in “The Many Saints of Newark” in an interview with Deadline.
“The Many Saints of Newark” will be directed by “Sopranos” veteran Alan Taylor, who was behind the camera for nine episodes and went on to direct studio fare such as “Thor: The Dark World” and “Terminator Genisys.” The film is backed by New Line and Warner Bros. and is set in 1960s Newark amidst riots between the city’s African-American and Italian communities.
“I was interested in Newark and life in Newark at that time,” Chase told Deadline. “I used to go to down there every Saturday night for dinner with my grandparents. But the thing that interested me most was Tony’s boyhood. I was interested in exploring that…The movie will deal with the tensions between the blacks and whites at the time, and Tony Soprano will be part of this, but as a kid.”
Casting is currently underway to find young Tony. News broke last year Alessandro Nivola is playing Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Tony’s protégé Christopher (Michael Imperioli). Chase told Deadline the film will explore the idealized version of the mafia that Tony looked up to at the start of the series. “It is going to depict when it was good,” he said. “The mafia was very polished at that time, how they dressed and what they did. Those traditions were followed more loosely in the series. These weren’t guys who wore tracksuits, back then.”
“The Sopranos” aired its last episode in June 2007, and Chase has been hesitant to bring the series to the big screen in the decade since.
“I’m still very worried about it, but I became interested in Newark, where my parents came from, and where the riots took place,” Chase said. “I was living in suburban New Jersey at the time that happened, and my girlfriend was working in downtown Newark. I was just interested in the whole Newark riot thing. I started thinking about those events and organized crime, and I just got interested in mixing those two elements.”
More casting news about “The Many Saints of Newark” should break in the coming weeks.