The Many Saints of Newark, David Chase's upcoming Sopranos prequel movie, has been rounding out its cast over the past few weeks, and now, finally, it looks like the film has found the perfect actor to play young Tony: James Gandolfini's teenage son, Michael, Deadline reports.
Michael Gandolfini recently appeared in a few episodes of HBO's The Deuce and made a small appearance in last year's Ocean's Eight, but The Many Saints of Newark will be his biggest acting role yet. According to Deadline, Chase and the film's producers cast a wide net for actors to play Tony Soprano in the 1960s, but Gandolfini's on-screen similarities to his late father eventually landed him the gig.
Gandolfini is the latest actor to join the film's growing cast that includes Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, and Billy Magnussen, among others, though the other actors' roles are still shrouded in secrecy. The only other actor whose character has been announced is Alessandro Nivola, who will play the film's star, Dickie Moltisanti.
"It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano," Gandolfini told Deadline in a statement. "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."
The prequel movie, which is directed by Alan Taylor off a script co-written by Chase, will be set in 1967 in the shadow of the Newark race riots. “I was interested in Newark and life in Newark at that time,” Chase said of the film during a recent discussion at IFC's Sopranos film festival. “I used to go 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 19-year-old Gandolfini is a bit old to play late-1960s Tony Soprano, since Tony was in elementary school during the Newark riots—at least according to the flashback in the Sopranos season one episode "Down Neck." We'll have to wait and see what kind of retconning Chase has planned to sort that age issue out. The Many Saints of Newark is set to go into production later this year.
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