Michael Gandolfini played Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark, followed by his father in The Sopranos.
Fans of “The Sopranos” have the opportunity to re-enter the show’s universe with the new flick “The Many Saints of Newark” — but with a few key differences.
The film is a prequel to the popular HBO mob drama, with many of the same characters played by newer, younger actors.
Among them is Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, who played the iconic Tony Soprano. Michael, 22, plays his father in the prequel, which was set decades before the 1999-2007 show began, which means there are some things about the soprano that viewers might not recognize.
In conversation with Granthshala News, Gandolfini once discussed the differences between playing his father and his versions of the character.
Michael Gandolfini says playing late father’s character Tony Soprano was ‘the hardest decision ever’
The young star noted that he attempted to portray his father’s similar “physicality”, as if clutching his shoulders similar to the late actor.
“I actually learned how to use my eyes in such a way that her head was down,” he explained.
However, there were also significant differences between their depictions.
Michael Gandolfini prepares for his Tony soprano role by studying his father
“I knew that if I embraced his physicality, the audience would actually see a lot of Tonys,” Gandolfini said. “Then I would have a lot more space emotionally to be completely detached from him.”
Fans also get a look at Alessandro Nivola’s Dicky Moltisanti, the father of the famous “Sopranos” character Christopher Moltisanti. Fans of the show know that Christopher’s father died before the show even started.
“He’s trying to redefine himself in some new way, but he’s not really sophisticated enough to know what that is,” Nivola said. “On the other hand, he is completely part of that cycle of violence from which he cannot really escape.”
Michael Gandolfini shows off his late father’s character during ‘Sopranos’ prequel shoot
For those who avoided the film because they hadn’t seen “The Sopranos,” the cast say it can be enjoyed on its own.
“You don’t have to be a fan or know about the series to appreciate the film,” said Ray Liotta.
Added Leslie Odom Jr.: When [writer] David Chase’s name is attached, you are in the hands of a true autobiographer, a real visionary. So it is exciting that we now have more possibilities with this film.”
Chase, who created “The Sopranos”, also confirmed that future chapters of the story “could happen”.
“The Many Saints of Newark” is playing in theaters now and streaming on HBO Max.