After more than a decade since its series finale, HBO's groundbreaking series The Sopranos is heading to the big screen with its highly-anticipated prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark. First announced in 2018, the film based on legendary creator David Chase's iconic crime drama follows a young Tony Soprano — played by the late, great James Gandolfini's real-life son, Michael Gandolfini — as he grows up in the midst of the Newark riots during the 1960s and 1970s. With many familiar characters returning while others make their debut, it's no secret such a feat has been a huge undertaking for fans to trust and accept after all this time. But as the film nears its theatrical release this Friday, director Alan Taylor details to PopCulture.com the ease and challenges he faced when slipping back into understanding the profundity behind one of the world's most iconic TV families.
"It was easy to step back into the language of the show and the tone of it. That combination of really dark insights about what it's like to be human, but also with absurd humor and bursts of violence, the bursts of ridiculousness," Taylor, who directed nine episodes of the series from 1999 to 2007, said. "That combination of tones that David created for the show, that felt easy to get back into, but in many other ways, it was not at all easy."
Taylor goes on to share it was a test of sorts to try and find the show's beloved essence without minimizing what they had built over six seasons. "It was a challenge to try and find the spirit of the show when we take away two of the main things that define the show," he said. "The fact that there was no James Gandolfini, was really a big deal. The fact that the show was popular, partly because it was contemporary, tacky New Jersey — and we're going back into a period where it's a kind of more romantic time of the mob and going from the small screen to the big screen. So, in many ways, we were changing radically the terms of it, but trying to keep that spirit of the Sopranos experience true."
While keeping the Sopranos spirit might mean cameos for some, Taylor told NME last week that the film actually had to cut a scene with Edie Falco, who played Carmela Soprano, from the final version. "Not to give away too much but, when you make a movie you're not exactly sure the final shape it's going to be and we, believe it or not, shot a few things that included other cast members," he told the magazine. "We had Edie come in and she dressed up as Carmela and we shot something with her and it wound up not being in the final movie but it was a great excuse to see her again."
Taylor won a Primetime Emmy in 2007 for Outstanding Director for a Drama Series for The Sopranos episode "Kennedy and Heidi." Set to hit theaters on Oct. 1, The Many Saints of Newark will also be available to stream for 30 days on HBO Max.