As The Sopranos celebrates its 20th anniversary, the cast of New Line’s prequel movie titled The Many Saints of Newark is coming together.
Last week we found out that Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga were joining Alessandro Nivola on the cast. Now an actor has been chosen for a major role—the role of a young Tony Soprano, who was played on the original HBO series by the late James Gandolfini. It’s being reported that Michael Gandolfini, James Gandolfini’s son, has been chosen to play the character.
Michael was chosen for the role by someone very familiar with the character, David Chase, who created the original series. Chase also co-wrote the screenplay with Sopranos writer Lawrence Konner.
Of the announcement, Michael had this to say:
“It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano. I’m thrilled that I’m going to have the opportunity to work with David Chase and the incredible company of talent he has assembled for The Many Saints of Newark.”
You might think that Michael was cast in the role only because of who his father is, but according to the report he still had to earn it. There was an extensive audition process searching for the right actor to play the young Tony Soprano, and Michael won the role because he had great screen presence and nailed Tony’s mannerisms. Add to that the natural benefit of his looking like a younger version of the character, and the job was won.
The young actor doesn’t have many credits to his name yet, but he did have a small role in Ocean’s 8 and has appeared in a handful of episodes of the HBO series The Deuce.
The Many Saints of Newark is set in 1960s Newark, New Jersey during a race riot that saw African-Americans and Italians locked in deadly conflict. It follows Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola), the father of Sopranos character Christopher Moltisanti (played by Michael Imperioli), who mentors a young Tony Soprano. At the same time, Tony’s father is grooming him for a life in organized crime.
Directing is Alan Taylor, who’s no stranger to The Sopranos. He directed nine episodes of the series, winning a Primetime Emmy for the 2007 episode “Kennedy and Heidi.”
In fact he’s no stranger to HBO in general, having directed episodes of Oz, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, Carnivale, Deadwood, Rome, In Treatment, Bored to Death, Boardwalk Empire, and Game of Thrones. He also directed Thor: The Dark World for Marvel, and Terminator Genisys.
Also part of the cast so far is Billy Magnussen and Corey Stoll, with more to come including more characters from the original series.
No release date for The Many Saints of Newark has been announced yet.