Michael Gandolfini, the 19-year-old son of the show’s late star, James Gandolfini, will play his late dad’s role of Tony Soprano in creator David Chase’s Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints Of Newark.
‘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 am 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.’
Michael, whose mother Marcy Wudarski was married to James Gandolfini from 1999 thru 2002, was chosen after an extended casting process, insiders told Deadline, saying that his looks, mannerism and understanding of the character got him the coveted part in the film, which will be directed by Alan Taylor.
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Family business: Michael Gandolfini, the 19-year-old son of the show’s late star, James Gandolfini, will play his late dad’s role of Tony Soprano in creator David Chase’s Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints Of Newark. He was snapped in NYC earlier this month
Michael’s previous credits include a role in Ocean’s Eight and a recurring role on HBO’s The Deuce as Joey Dwyer.
Gandolfini joins a cast that includes Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Cory Stoll, Billy Magnussen and Alessandro Nivola.
The prequel to the HBO series is set amid the unrest of the 1967 Newark riots, as tensions erupted between the African-Americans and Italian-American communities, leaving 26 people dead and hundreds more injured.
The film will place the spotlight on Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola) – the father of the show’s Christopher Moltisanti (played by Michael Imperioli) and mentor of Tony – who was frequently mentioned in dialogue on the show.
Spitting image: Michael was chosen after an extended casting process, insiders told Deadline, saying that his looks, mannerism and understanding of the character got him the coveted part
All in the family: Michael posed with the stars who played Tony’s kids on the show, Robert Iler, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, at an event in NYC last month
Dickie was at the center of a storyline in the show’s season four opener, For All Debts Public and Private, as Tony led Christopher to retiring police Detective Lt. Barry Haydu (Tom Mason), who he claimed had been Dickie’s killer.
While Haydu denied involvement, Christopher shot him to death with Tony’s implied orders in mind.
The Sopranos series featured numerous 1960s flashbacks during its run, featuring Joseph Siravo as Tony Soprano’s father Johnny Boy, Laila Robins as a younger incarnation of Tony’s mother Livia Soprano, and Rocco Sisto as the younger Junior Soprano.
Flashback: Michael and his late father James were snapped in 2007 in NYC
New focus: The film will place the spotlight on the character Dickie Moltisanti, the father of the show’s Christopher Moltisanti (played by Michael Imperioli) and mentor to a young Tony
Huge part: Alessandro Nivola will play the key role of Dickie in the motion picture
The casting announcement comes at a time of nostalgic revival for the series – which famously ended on a cliffhanger – amid the 20th anniversary of its January 1999 debut.
Earlier this month, Michael was at Woke Up This Morning: The Sopranos 20th Anniversary Celebration, which was held at New York City’s SVA Theatre, and also attended by Imperioli, Edie Falco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Robert Iler, Lorraine Bracco, Dominic Chianese, Tony Sirico, Steven Van Zandt, Annabella Sciorra, Vincent Curatola, John Ventimiglia and Chase.
At an after-dinner held at the restaurant Del Posto, Imperioli toasted to the show’s late star, saying, ‘Jim, this is for you. Salute,’ Page Six reported, and Michael was given a Letterman jacket with the show’s insignia.
James died June 19, 2013 death in Rome, Italy from a heart attack while on vacation with his son.