The forthcoming Sopranos prequel film will explore Tony Soprano’s youth, creator David Chase has confirmed – with James Gandolfini’s son Michael set to play a young Tony Soprano.
News of the film, which is titled The Many Saints of Newark, first emerged back in March 2018, 11 years on from the conclusion of the acclaimed HBO crime drama series.
Celebrating 20 years since the first-ever episode of The Sopranos (which aired on January 10, 1999) earlier this month, Chase revealed that the New Line and Warner Bros.-made movie will still feature the series’ central character Tony Soprano (who was played by the late James Gandolfini), albeit at a younger age.
“I was interested in Newark and life in Newark at that time,” Chase told Deadline about his interest in pursuing a storyline that was set in the late 1960s. “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 [in in Newark, NJ] at the time, and Tony Soprano will be part of this, but as a kid,” he added.
Gandolfini’s 19-year-old son Michael has now been cast as a young Tony Soprano. “It’s a profound honour to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Gandolfini said in a statement.
“I’m thrilled that I am 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.”
Gandolfini joins Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Billy Magnussen and Corey Stoll as a confirmed cast member in the movie. Production on The Many Saints of Newark is set to begin later this year, with former Sopranos director Alan Taylor on board to direct. Chase and Lawrence Konner have written the script.
Chase recently admitted that he had been against the idea of a Sopranos prequel movie “for a long time” and that he was still “very worried about it”.
“But I became interested in Newark, where my parents came from, and where the riots took place,” Chase explained. “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 organised crime, and I just got interested in mixing those two elements.
“[The film] 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.”
Asked about whether he had considered the expectations of fans of the original series, Chase replied: “Yeah, I feel they’re out there with shotguns, just waiting.”