Family always came first on HBO’s Emmy-winning mob drama “The Sopranos.” Fittingly, Michael Gandolfini—son of the late James Gandolfini—has been cast to reprise his father’s role in series creator David Chase’s upcoming “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark.”
Michael will play a young Tony Soprano in the Alan Taylor-directed feature, set during the Newark, N.J., riots of 1967. He will star opposite Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Billy Magnussen, “Ant-Man” villain Corey Stoll, and Stern Show veteran Jon Bernthal.
Michael’s biggest role to date has been appearing opposite Stern Show veteran James Franco on David Simon’s Times Square-set porn drama “The Deuce,” but the 19-year-old’s actor lack of experience was reportedly more than made up for by his resemblance to his father and his deep understanding of the character.
“It’s a profound honor 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’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 film’s script was written by Chase and his “Sopranos” collaborator Lawrence Konner. The story follows one of Tony's relatives, gangster Richard "Dickie" Moltisanti (Nivola), a character who was frequently mentioned on “The Sopranos” but never actually appeared onscreen. According to the show's lore, Dickie was a fast-talking, charismatic mobster who was gunned down when his son Christopher (played on the series by Michael Imperioli) was still just an infant.
It’s unclear who Farmiga, Bernthal, and other confirmed cast members will play, but according to reports the film will be filled with “Sopranos” callbacks and there’s a strong chance its elder characters—including Livia Soprano (Tony’s mom), Junior Soprano (Tony’s uncle), and Giovanni “Johnny Boy” Soprano (Tony’s dad)—would play a central role in any story about the rise of that crime family.