Stepping into the shoes of Tony Soprano is no easy task for any actor, but the challenge is significantly greater when Tony Soprano actor James Gandolfini is your father. Enter Michael Gandolfini, the 21-year-old son of the late James Gandolfini, who is tackling the role of a young Tony Soprano in David Chase and Alan Taylor’s “Sopranos” prequel movie “The Many Saints of Newark.”
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Gandolfini described “The Many Saints of Newark” as “an origin story through the eyes of Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher’s father.” Christopher Moltisanti was played on “The Sopranos” by Michael Imperioli, while Dickie will be portrayed in the prequel movie by Alessandro Nivola.
Gandolfini added about the film, “The Tony Soprano we know has this beautiful vulnerability underneath and this rough exterior, but what if we flip that on its side and you watch a creative, hopeful, kind, curious kid get whittled down and formed into what he has to be?”
Before auditioning for his father’s most famous role, Michael Gandolfini had never watched an episode of HBO’s “The Sopranos” because father James “didn’t want me to see Tony Soprano—the violence, the angry, the mean,” the young actor said. “Of course I was on set and would visit him in his trailer, but I had never watched the show…I never knew Tony Soprano. I only knew my dad.”
Michael Gandolfini started watching “The Sopranos” for the first time to prep for his Tony Soprano audition. The actor said, “It was really hard to watch my dad. I recorded four hours of his monologues with [Dr.] Melfi and walked around New York with them constantly, constantly, constantly playing in my ear.”
When Michael Gandolfini landed the part made famous by his father, he had faith it wasn’t just stunt casting given “Sopranos” creator David Chase’s direct involvement with the prequel film. As the actor concluded: ““I had this unspoken trust that David [Chase] wasn’t going to cast me if there was even a shred that this isn’t going to work.”
Warner Bros. will release “The Many Saints of Newark” in theaters and on HBO Max starting September 24.