The late-James Gandolfini was a one-of-a-kind actor whose show The Sopranos was essential to the inception of the Golden Age of Television. This age involved stories written with a more cinematic approach with that show's creator, David Chase, hoping to create episodes that each felt like mini-movies. Now, 14 years after the show cut to black for the last time (literally...it just cut to black mid-sentence), a prequel film is hitting theaters titled The Many Saints of Newark that focuses on a young Tony Soprano in New Jersey in the 1960's and 1970's during the inception of the future mafia boss breaking bad. In adding a sense of nuance and nostalgia, young Tony Soprano will be played by Gandolfini's real-life son, Michael. Something that, in a recent interview with Empire, Michael has said was “probably the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make." Elaborting on this, Gandolfini's son had this to say:
“You know, I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to walk out of this feeling like I’d grown in terms of my feelings towards my dad,. I just wanted to be the best actor I could be, portraying Tony in the way David wanted, scene by scene. I didn’t think about my grief because… well, I would have shit the bed."
In talking up his version of the character, he added the following:
"My dad’s character had all this beautiful sensitivity underneath this aggression. This version of him is the reverse. His curiosity and sensitivity comes first. He’s not a gun-wielding gangster. He’s a kid who gets whittled down and pulled in.”
Series creator David Chase co-wrote the script for the new film with Lawrence Konner while Alan Taylor, who directed several acclaimed episodes of the show, is taking the helm of The Many Saints of Newark. I'm sure that somewhere, James is looking down and smiling that big grin at his son taking on his character's legacy.
The Many Saints of Newark co-stars Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, Michela De Rossi, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga. It is set to be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max on October 1st.