It has been more than 20 years since The Sopranos first introduced the world to Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and the various characters of his New Jersey crime syndicate, but the show's popularity hasn't waned a bit since that divisive fade-to-black ending that may or may not have signaled the mafioso's demise. While fans will have to continue relying on frame-by-frame breakdowns of the final scene and slips of the tongue by creator David Chase to know what really happened to our duck-loving mob boss, Chase will soon take fans back in time to showcase some of the moments we didn't get to see from the Family's history by way of a prequel film The Many Saints of Newark.
Here's a rundown of everything we know so far about the The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark.
It'll involve a character you know... sort of. The Many Saints of Newark will journey back to the 1960s, a time when racial tensions were high in Newark, especially between Italian Americans and African Americans. The movie will be set against the backdrop of the race riot of 1967. Alessandro Nivola will star as Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher's (Michael Imperioli) father and the man who mentored Tony Soprano. Fans will recall that in The Sopranos, Tony and Christopher acted on a vendetta against Moltisanti's supposed killer: a detective who had since retired. Moltisanti was the cousin of Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco), which is why Tony often referred to Chrissy as his nephew.
Michael Gandolfini will play young Tony Soprano. Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late James Gandolfini, will take on the role of young Tony. Deadline reports that extensive auditions were held for the role of Tony, but Michael Gandolfini's ability to copy Tony's mannerisms coupled with his natural resemblance to the character scored him the part. In an interview with Esquire, the younger Gandolfini opened up about the challenges of taking on the role.
"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. But then I'd also be seeing my father," Gandolfini said. "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. I started having crazy dreams. I had one where I auditioned for David and I looked down at my hands, and they were my dad's hands."
The cast is stacked. Details about the additional characters in The Many Saints of Newark are coming together, but fans can expect to see some familiar faces, including Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Corey Stoll, Leslie Odom Jr., John Magaro, and Billy Magnussen. And continuing The Sopranos' tradition of paying homage to Goodfellas whenever possible, Deadline reports that Ray Liotta will appear in the movie. Twenty-seven actors from Goodfellas appeared on The Sopranos, including Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, and Tony Sirico. Liotta, who starred as wise guy Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese's 1990 mob classic, will thus be the 28th.
Chase co-wrote the script. Although this era of reboots, revivals, and recycling projects galore often means taking properties out of the hands of their creators, this film won't make that mistake. David Chase has co-written the script for Newark with Lawrence Konner, who previously wrote three episodes of the original series. Meanwhile, the film will be directed by Alan Taylor, who helmed several episodes of the show and won an Emmy for his work behind the lens of Season 6's "Kennedy and Heidi," which, perhaps not coincidentally, was a pivotal piece of Christopher's story.
Photographers near the New York set captured many members of the cast in action. Production on The Many Saints of Newark took place in the late spring of 2019, and since many scenes were filmed outdoors, these set photos give audiences a first glimpse at what's ahead in film, including young Tony in an ice cream truck, what looks to be Livia with baby Barbara in a bassinet, and Dickie Moltisanti.
The Many Saints of Newark is scheduled to hit theaters on March 12, 2021.