Michael Gandolfini caused the cast and crew of The Sopranos prequel to cry after paying tribute to his late father, James Gandolfini. Director Alan Taylor recalled the exact moment to Empire Magazine, explaining that it happened when Michael expressed his gratitude to the movie’s crew while they were having dinner one night.
“At one point, [Michael] stood up and said, ‘I want to thank everyone for doing this because it was a chance to say hello to my father… and goodbye again,” Taylor said. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.” A prequel to the popular TV series The Many Saints of Newark will see Michael play a younger Tony Soprano and serve as an origin story for the iconic mob boss.
Michael has described the choice to take up the mantle of his father’s best-known character as a daunting one, and probably the hardest decision he’s ever had to make. It was Michael who first found his father after he passed away in 2013 at the age of 51, but he didn’t allow his grief to compromise his performance.
“You know, I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to walk out of this feeling like I’d grown in terms of my feelings towards my dad,” Michael told Empire. “I just wanted to be the best actor I could be, portraying Tony in the way David wanted, scene by scene. I didn’t think about my grief because, well, I would have shit the bed.”
Set during the 1967 race riots, The Many Saints of Newark will follow a young Tony Soprano as he sets out to make a name for himself in the DiMeo crime family. Along the way, Tony will battle rival gangsters who seek to challenge the DiMeo’s for control of the city. Trying to keep Tony on the straight and narrow (well, relatively straight and narrow) is his beloved uncle Dickie (Alessandro Nivola), the father of Christopher Moltisanti.
The film’s writer, and the creator of The Sopranos, has promised that you don’t need to have seen the original series to enjoy the movie. The cast includes Vera Farmiga, Alessandro Nivola, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Leslie Odom Jr., Billy Magnussen, Ray Liotta, John Magaro and Michela De Rossi.