Bada bing! The upcoming Sopranos prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark, has found its leading man. Michael Gandolfini, the son of late actor James Gandolfini, was cast as a young Tony Soprano in the film adaptation of HBO’s hit television series.
“It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Michael said in a statement to Deadline on Wednesday, January 23. “I’m thrilled that I am going to have the opportunity to work with [creator] David Chase and the incredible company of talent he has assembled for The Many Saints of Newark.”
James originated the role of Tony Soprano on the small screen in 1999 and played the iconic character for almost a decade before The Sopranos ended in 2007. The three-time Emmy winner died of a heart attack in June 2013 while on vacation in Italy with his family. He was 51.
“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” HBO told Us Weekly in a statement at the time. “He was a special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone, no matter their title or position, with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”
A little more than a year later, Michael spoke about his father during a screening of James’ final movie, The Drop. “It was really bittersweet,” the Deuce actor told Us of watching his dad on the big screen. “It was amazing to see him. … I know he was happy — happy acting and happy in that moment. … It was the last time he could be happy filming a movie, so it was very hard.”
The prequel will be set in the era of the late 1960s riots that happened in Newark, New Jersey, after tensions boiled in the African American community due to discrimination in the community. Jon Bernthal, Alessandro Nivola, Billy Magnussen, Vera Farmiga and Corey Stoll are also set to star in the flick, which does not yet have a release date.
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