David Chase will keep the role of Tony Soprano all in the family in his upcoming Sopranos prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, courtesy of Michael Gandolfini, son of late actor James Gandolfini, who will play a young version of the beloved fictional mobster.
James Gandolfini, of course, famously played the Sopranos mob boss in The Sopranos’ original run on HBO, earning several Emmy and SAG awards, as well as Golden Globe for his work in the series. He died on a trip to Italy with his family in 2013 at age 51.
As Deadline reports, son Michael will take the role of young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark, appearing onscreen alongside co-stars Corey Stoll, Alessandro Nivola, and Jon Bernthal. Gandolfini reportedly auditioned for the role, and was selected after an “extensive” process.
“It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Gandolfini said via 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.”
Set in 1960s Newark, New Jersey, The Many Saints of Newark followers early versions of beloved Sopranos characters as racial tensions mount in the city. According to a plot synopsis, the film with show gangster Dickie Moltisanti showing young Tony the ropes when it comes to the mob.
News of Gandolfini’s addition to the film’s cast comes shortly after The Sopranos 20th anniversary earlier this month. Since then, co-author Alan Sepinwall, co-author of fan book The Sopranos Sessions, recently told the Inquirer, the show has become a ubiquitous cultural touchstone — at least in New Jersey. And that was due in no small part to the elder Gandolfini’s work as Tony.