Before all die-hard Sopranos fans shake their heads to anything Sopranos-related without James Gandolfini in it, I hear you. I mean, what is it nowadays with remakes after remakes, and prequels with forced storylines? This film, however, won’t feel too far from home. Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Many Saints of Newark” revives the Sopranos storyline with a refreshing cast, including James Gandolfini’s own son, Michael Gandolfini. Yes, his own son. 

What’s more, “The Many Saints of Newark” was directed by Alan Taylor, who is known for his work on several Sopranos episodes. Additionally, it follows the script of David Chase (Sopranos creator) and Lawrence Konner (who was also a writer for the Sopranos). 

The Sopranos: A Brief Recap

Sopranos

No spoilers ahead! Just a quick synopsis of the series if you don’t know about it already.

The late James Gandolfini played Tony Soprano, an Italian-American family man and crime family boss in New Jersey. To the mafia world, he is prolific and feared. To the unknowing world, he works in waste management – his cover from working in the mafia. Performing his role as the quintessential tough guy, we are also show another side to Tony: his human side. 

Episode by episode, we are pulled back and forth between hits being assembled, murders taking place, and…Tony visiting his therapist. That’s right, the almighty head honcho takes his mental health seriously. Ultimately, this show carries themes of family values, murder, reputation, death, and morality. From a psychiatrist’s scope, we observe Soprano as he learns to balance life as a mobster and a family man. 

What We Know About “The Many Saints of Newark”

“The Many Saints of Newark” is an origin story about the Soprano crime family (also known as the DiMeo family). This film is set in Newark, New Jersey in the 60’s and 70’s in the midst of city riots. The violence and tensions in these riots were mainly between Italian Americans and African Americans, especially each group’s subsequent gangs. A form-fitting prequel, it follows the crime-drama genre and atmosphere fitting The Sopranos series. 

Michael Gandolfini – son of the late James Gandolfini – is set to play a younger Tony Soprano. The ultimate father-son activity, Michael is truly walking a mile in his father’s shoes by choosing to portray him in this film. This ensemble drama will focus on a young Tony’s relationship with his mentor and his father.

Following His Father’s Footsteps

Michael Gandolfini

The casting team apparently did extensive research to find the perfect actor that could bring the character of ‘young Tony’ to life. How were they going to find someone to play a young Tony? How could they possibly find someone  to follow the nature of James Gandolfini’s devoted acting? 

Sources say to prepare intensely for his role, Gandolfini took extra matters to tune into an angry state that Tony is often in. He would hit himself the night before, drink six cups of coffee and walk around the set with a rock in his shoe. Pretty hard act to follow if you ask me. His tragic death in 2013 sparked sadness in many loyal fans, who felt that there really is no ‘Sopranos’ without Tony.

After many unsuccessful attempts in finding the right contender, they went with Gandolfini’s own son, Michael. Luckily, he has some acting experience under his belt already. What’s more, his physical appearance and familiar looks that he shares with his dad will bring more authenticity to his character. This will confirm the team’s decision to pick the late actor’s son, who is the standout choice. Insiders say “no one understood the character better.”

Star-Studded Cast & Release Date

In an interview with Esquire, the 21-year old actor had actually admitted that he’d never seen the Sopranos. He only began watching it once he was actually cast in the film. This is where he aimed to understand and master his father’s mannerisms and gestures. In an interview with Deadline, Gandolfini discusses his preparation for the role he plays as a younger Tony. “It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Gandolfini expresses. “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.”

Other cast members include, Alessandrio Nivola, Hamilton Star Leslie Odom Jr, The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal, House of Cards’ Corey StollJohn MagaroMichela De Rossi, Goodfellas’ Ray LiotaVera FarmigaJoey DiazNick Vallelonga.

As of now, the film is set to be released on September 21, 2021 in theaters and HBO Max. This date is an entire year after its original plan, thanks to covid.

Bonus

Sopranos Podcast

If you want more fan favorite news, then you won’t want to miss this. Soprano stars Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa joined forces to co-host the Soprano Podcast. In this podcast, they provide commentary and some interviews while reminiscing on each episode. It’s a “must listen” for all Sopranos fans.

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