James Gandolfini’s son, Michael, might be playing a younger version of Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark, but that doesn’t mean the 20-year-old actor was familiar with the character prior to landing the role.
In a recent interview with Esquire, Michael opened up about the highly anticipated prequel and revealed that he hadn’t seen a single episode of The Sopranos prior to auditioning for the movie.
“The funny thing is, before the audition, I had never watched a minute of The Sopranos…” he said. “I was just a kid when he was making it. 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 admitted that it wasn’t always easy watching his late father on the small screen, adding, “The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time. 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.”
He even said that there were scenes that “hit hard”—like when Tony apologizes to his son, A.J., after a fight, saying, “I couldn’t ask for a better son.”
“I just knew he was talking to me in that scene,” Michael said.
The Many Saints of Newark is directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) and takes place during the Newark riots in the ’60s. In addition to Michael, the movie also stars Corey Stoll (House of Cards), Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods), Jon Bernthal (Wolf of Wall Street), Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle) and Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel).
All we have to say is…it’s about damn time. The Many Saints of Newark will hit theaters on September 25, 2020.