Michael Gandolfini is stepping into his late father’s shoes to play young Tony Soprano in the “Sopranos” prequel. But first, he had to watch the hit show for the first time ever.
“The funny thing is, before the audition, I had never watched a minute of ‘The Sopranos,’ ” Gandolfini revealed during an interview with Esquire published Tuesday.
Gandolfini, 20, was born in 1999, the same year the “Sopranos” premiered on HBO, led by his father James Gandolfini’s iconic portrayal of an Italian-American mobster.
“I was just a kid when he was making it. I would go to the set and ask him what it was about, and he’d say, ‘Oh, it’s about this guy who’s in the mob and kind of goes to therapy,’ ” he recalled.
‘Sopranos’ prequel:James Gandolfini’s son cast as young Tony
Michael Gandolfini has been cast as the young Tony Soprano in the planned “Sopranos” prequel, “The Many Saints of Newark.” Gandolfini will play a younger version of the iconic character his late father James Gandolfini played on the HBO series. (Photo: Charles Sykes, Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
For Gandolfini, the hardest part was not assuming his father’s role, although he said it was a “difficult decision” to join the prequel, “The Many Saints of Newark.”
“The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time,” Gandolfini said. “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.”
Observing his father proved challenging and sparked “crazy dreams,” Gandolfini revealed. James Gandolfini died of a heart attack at the age of 51 in 2013.
“I’d also be seeing my father,” he continued. “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.”
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This raw video shows scenes from Paterson and Bloomfield where the "Sopranos" prequel movie, "The Many Saints of Newark" filmed, Monday, May 20, 2019.
Kevin R. Wexler, NorthJersey
Gandolfini said his father’s sudden death pushed him to pursue a career in entertainment, after a friend suggested he take an acting class to start healing.
“From the first day, I fell in love with it,” he said. “It actually started my grieving process with my dad.”
“The Many Saints of Newark,” the big-screen “Sopranos” prequel, is scheduled for release in 2020. The film, set in the 1960s, also stars Ray Liotta and Leslie Odom Jr.
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