Relative newcomer Will McCormack — who appears in the new Western throwback American Outlaws (opening Friday) — had very little research to do for his recurring role as Dr. Melfi's (Lorraine Bracco) son on The Sopranos. In fact, he hardly had to act at all!

"My mom is a shrink, and lives in New Jersey, and is Italian, and looks alarmingly a lot like Lorraine Bracco," explains McCormack, the brother of actress Mary McCormack (Private Parts). "Plus, the first day I shot for the show was in Verona, N.J., where my father's from. So there's some serendipity around The Sopranos [for me]."

The up-and-comer admits that he's in the dark as to what role — if any — he'll play in the mob hit's fourth season (which may not kick off until September 2002). "Maybe they'll focus on Lorraine's character," he hedges. "[But] you never know what [series creator] David Chase is up to. If they call, I'll be there."

In the meantime, he's looking forward to making his mark on the big screen with Outlaws, which co-stars Colin Farrell, Ali Larter and Scott Caan. And although growing up in the Garden State didn't exactly prepare him for life as a rough-riding cowboy — "We didn't have horses in New Jersey. I grew up working at the mall." — McCormack spent a few weeks at "cowboy camp" prior to filming.

"Now that I've done a western, I can't imagine never having done one," he says. "Robbing banks and riding horses is fun! If anyone gets a chance to do a Western, you gotta do it."