Entertainment

David Chase Opened Up About Casting Michael Gandolfini in ‘The Many Saints of Newark’

Way back in September 2020—different time, different life—we finally got a good look at The Many Saints of Newark when a delicious batch of set photos from The Sopranos prequel released online. But… that’s about all we had. All we could do was try to emulate the fits.

Now, we have much more to get excited about for our return to New Jersey, as we finally have a full-length trailer for The Many Saints of Newark. The film is set in the 1960s and 1970s, showing a young Tony Soprano’s coming of age against the backdrop of the 1967 riots in Newark. Since we saw the preview back in June, news on the Jersey front has been a a little slow. Thankfully, Vanity Fair just released an in-depth interview with the writer and producer behind The Sopranos—and now, The Many Saints of Newark—the legendary David Chase. In the story, Chase where talks about the decision to cast Michael Gandolfini in the role his father made famous. And before you read on, just know that the trailer culminates in “Woke Up This Morning,” which is on the nose, yes—but exactly what you needed today.

What Happens In the Trailer?

The trailer mostly offers what looks like a highlight reel of what we can expect from young Tony Soprano in the first act of the movie. He’s a rogue brat of a high school teenager, who also happens to rate as a highly intelligent kid—even a leader, much to his mother’s surprise. It’s a moment in the trailer that teases a detailed look at Tony’s toxic relationship with his mother, which he’ll eventually unpack in therapy. We see Tony roving around, hitting Satriale’s, and jamming on his bedroom floor. It seems like we’ll follow his initiation into a life of crime, with all the big players in the family trying to have a say in his future.

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Who Is in the Cast?

This trailer in particular focuses on his relationship with Dickie Moltisanti (Christopher’s father played by Alessandro Nivola), who was killed before the events of The Sopranos. Young Tony is played by Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late James Gandolfini—who starred as Tony in The Sopranos. In 2019, long before The Many Saints of Newark was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, we spoke to Michael Gandolfini about what it was like stepping into father’s shoes.

“It was an intense process,” Gandolfini said. “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. 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.”

In David Chase’s interview with Vanity Fair, he’s asked whether or not he had any hesitation about casting Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Looks like Chase had very little doubt about young Gandolfini’s acting chops.

“I looked at some tape to see if he could put one word in front of the other,” Chase said. “But no, I had no hesitancy. I just had this sneaking suspicion and the DNA was going to be the same, or was going to prevail.”

The cast also includes Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano, Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano, Jon Bernthal as Johnny Boy Soprano, Billy Magnussen as Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, John Magaro as Silvio Dante, Leslie Odom Jr., Ray Liotta, and Joey Diaz.

When Is the Release Date?

After being delayed by Covid-19, the film will be released in theaters and on HBO Max on October 1, 2021.

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