See James Gandolfini's Lookalike Son as Tony in "The Sopranos" Prequel Trailer
Michael Gandolfini is stepping into the role of young Tony Soprano in "The Many Saints of Newark."
After The Sopranos launched on HBO in 1999, it didn't take long for the series to become a beloved seminal piece of TV history. The show continues to gain popularity with younger generations on streaming services and now, The Sopranos is getting the big-screen treatment. A movie prequel is set to be released on Oct. 1—and who better to play a young Tony Soprano than the son of the original star, the late James Gandolfini? The first trailer for the movie, The Many Saints of Newark, was just released, featuring 22-year-old Michael Gandolfini stepping into the shoes of the character that made his dad an icon. To see James Gandolfini's son in action, read on.
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Michael Gandolfini stars as young Tony Soprano in the first trailer for The Many Saints of Newark.
The first trailer for The Sopranos prequel premiered on June 29 to eager fans. The film is set during the Newark riots of 1967, and in the trailer, Michael is seen playing young Tony Soprano as he learns the ropes of the mob as a teenager. One clip shows Tony's mom, Livia (Vera Farmiga), being told that although her son doesn't apply himself in school, he's an intelligent natural-born leader. (Tony's father, "Johnny Boy," played by Jon Bernthal, is also featured.)
The trailer largely focuses on the influence Dickie Moltisanti, played by Alessandro Nivola, has on a teenage Tony. Dickie is the father of Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) from the original series and seems instrumental in embedding Tony into the family business at a young age.
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Michael says he's honored to continue his father's legacy.
It was first reported by Deadline in Jan. 2019 that Michael would take on the role that his father made famous in the upcoming Sopranos prequel. "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. And they really are big shoes to fill: James earned three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Tony. "I'm thrilled that I am going to have the opportunity to work with [Sopranos creator] David Chase and the incredible company of talent he has assembled for The Many Saints of Newark," Michael continued.
James died at the age of 51 in 2013 after suffering a heart attack. Michael was the one who found his father collapsed in a hotel bathroom after the cardiac event.
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Michael hadn't seen The Sopranos until right before his audition.
Michael had never seen The Sopranos until recently. "The funny thing is, before the audition, I had never watched a minute of The Sopranos. I was just a kid when he was making it," he told Esquire in Aug. 2019. "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.'"
Michael said the most challenging part of preparing for the role was watching the show for the first time, and seeing so much of his late father. "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," said Michael. "But then I'd also be seeing my father. 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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James didn't want his son to become an actor.
Although Michael grew up loving acting, he told Esquire that his father never wanted him to follow in his footsteps, so he didn't start getting into the industry until after his death. Deciding to take on the role of Tony was a "difficult decision" for Michael, but Chase pushed him to audition.
Michael said he loved performing as a kid, often acting out scenes from the musical Wicked. "I dressed up as the Scarecrow almost every night, and my dad would videotape me singing," said Michael. "As I got older, he wanted me to play sports. I felt that burden. I wanted to make him proud. And he said, 'Don't be an actor; be a director. They have the power.'"
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