When the Sopranos return with The Many Saints of Newark this week, viewers will be introduced to a slew of new characters making some very formidable impressions on the world of young Anthony Soprano, played by Michael Gandolfini — the real-life son of the late, great James Gandolfini. Among new characters entering his world are Giuseppina Bruno, played by newcomer Michela De Rossi; and Aldo "Hollywood Dick" Moltisanti, the grandfather of Sopranos character Christopher Moltisanti, played by the living legend Ray Liotta. But as the veteran actor, best known for his work in mafia movies, including Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, will be playing a novel role built from the ground up, his performance will be a relatively "multilayered" one, to say the least.
In an exclusive with PopCulture.com in promotion of the film releasing in theaters on Friday and streaming exclusively on HBO Max for 30 days, Liotta admits his performance is one studio execs and producers don't want him divulging too much about. After all, he plays a significant role for not just his on-screen son, Richard "Dick" Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), but young Anthony Soprano (Gandolfini) as well.
"They don't want me to talk about it, but with the question so eloquent... it was great," Liotta told PopCulture of the experience and his multifaceted performance. "It was fun, and it happened out of the blue. [Sopranos series creator] David [Chase] just one day came up to me and said, 'Do you want to do this?' I said, 'Whoa, yeah, let me take this on. This'll be a fun little challenge."
This isn't the first time Liotta has found himself in the Sopranos world. In an interview with The Guardian last week, the 66-year-old actor revealed he was actually approached by Chase to play another role on the HBO smash hit, which ran for six seasons from 1999 to 2007. Dispelling rumors he was approached to play the lead, Tony Soprano, Liotta admits while he's not sure where that story came from, he was approached to portray Ralphie — a role played by Joe Pantoliano. But it wasn't in the cards just yet. "I didn't want to do another mafia thing, and I was shooting Hannibal. It just didn't feel right at the time," he told the newspaper.
While it might be kismet now for Liotta, De Rossi told PopCulture.com that while she never watched The Sopranos growing up, she knew of it and watched it the moment she was cast. Playing the role of Aldo's bride, Giuseppina Bruno, an ambitious character, fresh from Italy and new to the U.S., was also a role she couldn't pass up thanks to its relation to her own life.
With The Many Saints of Newark being De Rossi's first American film after her Italian breakout in 2018, Boys Cry, she reveals Chase and director Alan Taylor wanted her to channel much of her own experiences in the performance for an authentic, personable flair. "David wanted me to put my experience in the character. So, it's been my first time out of Europe, my first time in America, my first foreign project — and also for Guiseppina, it's been the same. She came for the first time. So it helped me a lot for sure," she said.
Set to hit theaters on Oct. 1, The Many Saints of Newark will also be available to stream for 30 days on HBO Max. For more on the movie and all your Sopranos news, keep it locked to PopCulture.com for the latest.