Prepare to meet young Tony Soprano — played by James Gandolfini's son, Michael Gandolfini, who was cast by The Sopranos creator David Chase for the feature film prequel to the groundbreaking HBO series.
Michael Gandolfini said he was honored to star in 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," Michael said in a statement to Deadline, who was first to report the news. "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."
Alessandro Nivola (Face/Off, American Hustle), Vera Farminga (The Departed, Bates Motel), Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street, Baby Driver), Billy Magnussen (The Big Short, Into the Woods) and Corey Stoll (Ant-Man, House of Cards) will also star in the prequel movie, which will be directed by Alan Taylor, who directed nine episodes of The Sopranos. Chase co-wrote the script with Sopranos producer Lawrence Konner, both of whom are producing.
James Gandolfini, who originated the iconic role of anti-hero Tony Soprano on the HBO series, died of a heart attack in 2013 at the age of 51. Michael, 19, who is best known for his breakout role on The Deuce, snagged the role of a young Tony Soprano after an extensive audition process, insiders told Deadline.
His uncanny resemblance to his father, screen presence and mastery of Tony's mannerisms helped make him the standout choice for filmmakers because no one else understood the character better, the insiders said.
The movie will be set in the era of the 1960s Newark riots, in which the African Americans and Italians of New Jersey's largest city found themselves at each other's throats, with especially lethal violence breaking out among gangsters from each group as 26 people died and hundreds were injured.
The story will focus on Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola), a mentor to young Tony as his own father, Soprano boss Johnny Boy, groomed him for a future in organized crime. Sopranos fans will remember Dickie Moltisanti as Tony's nephew Christopher's father, who was frequently mentioned and glorified but who had died long before the series began, when Christopher was just a child.
While other details about The Many Saints of Newark are being kept under wraps, call-backs and shout-outs to several other series characters are expected throughout the film.
Nicole Lambert (Chase Films) and Marcus Viscidi are executive producing. In addition to directing nine Sopranos episodes, including 2007's "Kennedy and Heidi," for which he won an Emmy award, Taylor has also directed episodes of Game of Thrones and Thor: The Dark World.
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