"The racial tension of that moment is a big part of the story."
The star of the forthcoming Sopranos prequel has teased what fans can expect from the gangster epic – as well as the integral role of Tony Soprano in the film.
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.
It will follow the story of Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) who is the father of Christopher Moltisanti – already known to fans as Tony Soprano’s protege in the HBO show.
Speaking at a reunion to mark the 20th anniversary of the iconic show, Nivola explained how the show will be set against the backdrop of 1960s America and the terse race relations of the era.
“It’s set in 1967 with the backdrop of the race riots that were happening in Newark at that time, and the racial tension between the Italians and the blacks at that moment is a big part of the backdrop of the story,” Nivola explained to Variety.
Despite facing an uncertain fate at the end of the main TV series, Tony Soprano fans will also be assured to know that the film will explore the younger years of the fearsome mobster.
“Dickie, as he’s mentioned throughout the ‘Sopranos’ series, was an important figure in Tony’s life,” Nivola said.
“He was a real mentor figure, because Tony’s dad was is in prison a lot and Dickie didn’t have any children until later in his life until his early 40s, and so he treated Tony like a surrogate son.”
Production on The Many Saints of Newark is set to begin later this year, with former Sopranos director Alan Taylor on board to direct. Creator David Chase and Lawrence Konner have written the script, with the rest of the casting currently underway.