James Gandolfini's son, Michael, to play young Tony in 'The Sopranos' prequel film
It's been over a decade since the last episode of The Sopranos aired, and you panicked because you thought the cable cut out. The groundbreaking HBO crime drama series followed the life of New Jersey mobster - I mean, waste management consultant - Tony Soprano. As he rooted out snitches, sought treatment from his therapist and struggled to balance "the business" with family, viewers were riveted. Looking back, Tony Soprano paved the way for other television anti-heroes like Breaking Bad's Walter White and basically everyone on Game of Thrones.
Actor James Gandolfini brought Tony Soprano to life in an iconic performance that won multiple Emmy's, Golden Globes and Screen Actor's Guild Awards. Sadly, James died at the age of 51, after suffering a heart attack in 2013. That appeared to put the idea of another 'Sopranos' series or movie to rest. However, now series creator David Chase is making a 'Sopranos' prequel, and has cast the perfect person to play young Tony: James' son, 19-year-old Michael Gandolfini.
Obviously, Michael resembles a young Tony Soprano, but he didn't just get the part because of nepotism. Insiders told Deadline that the filmmakers conducted extensive auditions, and Michael was the standout choice due to his charisma and mastery of Tony's mannerisms. The late actor's son recently had a breakout role on the HBO drama series The Deuce, playing Joey Dwyer in five episodes.
The Sopranos prequel is called The Many Saints of Newark and is set during the Newark riots in the 1960's when African-American and Italian gangsters were at war. The story will focus on Dickie Moltisanti, played Alessandro Nivola, who mentors young Tony in the ways of 'this little thing of ours.'
The character never appeared on screen in The Sopranos, even through a flashback, but was frequently mentioned by Tony. We know that Dickie is Carmella Soprano's cousin, and was shot down when his son, Christopher, was a baby. This led Tony to become paternal toward Chrissy - for a while, anyway!
The Many Saints of Newark also stars Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Billy Magnussen and Corey Stoll. It will be directed by Alan Taylor, who helmed nine episodes of The Sopranos during its six-season Tony's father, Johnny Boy, will be a featured character, and there will probably be other callbacks to the series. (However, if it ends by suddenly cutting to black, we riot.)
In a statement to Deadline, Michael Gandolfini said, "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."
It will be interesting to see if the prequel film lives up to the show. I hope David Chase makes some public appearances, so reporters can harass him over whether Tony Soprano is dead or not, and ask what the hell ever happened with that Russian in the woods.