Sopranos’ prequel Many Saints of Newark ‘will be worth the wait’ says Gandolfini

The Sopranos' prequel The Many Saints of Newark "will be worth the wait" Michael Gandolfini has promised.

The actor, 21, will play a young Tony Soprano as he takes on the character his legendary late father James Gandolfini portrayed in the HBO series from 1999 to 2007.

The film's release date has been delayed due to Covid and will now hit our screens a year after originally planned.

But fans can't wait.

The film has been written by The Sopranos mastermind David Chase and is set in Newark, New Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s.

Here's what we know so far…

When is The Many Saints of Newark being released?

The film will be released on September 24, 2021 – a year after originally planned.

What is the film about?

The plot will centre around the 1967 Newark riots and Tony Soprano's childhood, revealing how his Italian-American dad Johnny Soprano and mum Livia shaped him to be a ruthless mob boss.

It will also focus on the life of Dickie Moltisanti – the father of Soprano mobster Christopher Moltisanti – played by Alessandro Nivola. He acted as a mentor to Tony growing up, while the surname Moltisanti translates as 'many saints' in English.

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Fans of The Sopranos series will know that Christopher's father was killed by a police officer, who Chris went on to murder in revenge.

And it seems that Chris – played by Michael Imperioli in The Sopranos and later killed by Tony – will make an eerie appearance in the film with Michael Gandolfini sharing a picture of the mobster's grave.

Meanwhile writer Chase said: “The movie will deal with the tensions between the Blacks and whites at the time, and Tony Soprano will be part of this, but as a kid.”

He also revealed he was “against the movie for a very long time, and I’m still very worried about it”.

He added about his inspiration: “I was living in suburban New Jersey at the time that happened, and my girlfriend was working in downtown Newark. I was just interested in the whole Newark riot thing. I started thinking about those events and organised crime, and I just got interested in mixing those two elements…But the thing that interested me most was Tony’s boyhood. I was interested in exploring that.”

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Michael Gandolfini also said of the film plot: “It’s an origin story through the eyes of Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher’s father.

“The Tony Soprano we know has this beautiful vulnerability underneath and this rough exterior, but what if we flip that on its side and you watch a creative, hopeful, kind, curious kid get whittled down and formed into what he has to be?”

The Many Saints of Newark cast

  • Michael Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
  • Billy Magnussen as Paulie 'Walnuts’ Gualtieri
  • Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti
  • Leslie Odom Jr. -character name not yet revealed
  • Jon Bernthal as Giovanni "Johnny Boy" Soprano
  • Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano

  • Dragons' Den rejects who went on to make millions – from BrewDog to HungryHouse

  • John Magaro as Silvio Dante
  • Ray Liotta – character name not yet revealed
  • Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano
  • Lesli Margherita as Iris Balducci

  • Gabriella Piazza – character name not yet revealed

  • Alexandra Intrator – character name not yet revealed

What have the actors said about the film?

Alessandro Nivola who plays Dickie Moltisanti said: “David Chase wrote me the role of a lifetime.

"Far and away, filming this movie was the most exciting thing in my career so far. It’s an incredibly nuanced, violent, funny, charming, scary, morally confused person, and it was an absolute joy to play.

“I have really high hopes about the film. What David did was to tell an origin story of Tony Soprano through a character that was dead before the series and that is such a surprising way of going about it. And the late ’60s mob movie is the stuff of dreams. Everyone was at the top of their game. The only infuriating thing is how long we have to wait.”

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Michael Gandolfini, whose father died suddenly in 2013, said of his role: “It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano."

But he also told Esquire in 2019 that “it was a difficult decision” to take the role.

“It was an intense process. Because, as an actor, I had to watch this guy who created the role, to look for mannerisms, voice, all those things I would have to echo. But then I’d also be seeing my father," he said.

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“I think what made it so hard was I had to do it alone. I was just sitting alone in my dark apartment, watching my dad all the time. I started having crazy dreams. I had one where I auditioned for David and I looked down at my hands, and they were my dad’s hands."

He continued: “I had this unspoken trust that David [Chase] wasn’t going to cast me if there was even a shred that this isn’t going to work.”

Leslie Odom Jr, who played Sam Cooke in Regina King’s One Night in Miami, has kept details of his character under wraps but said: “I work for the family.

“It’s about a pivotal summer in young Tony’s life, and we’re looking at the Newark riots.”

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