Fans eager for the return of “The Sopranos” got a sneak peek this week at the long-anticipated movie prequel to the beloved HBO series.
On Wednesday, Warner Bros. released a short trailer showcasing its 2021 spate of movie releases. Highlights of the nearly two-minute clip include “Godzilla vs. Kong,” due out in March, and the big screen adaptation of the smash musical “In the Heights.”
Generating the most buzz, however, was the first footage of the “Sopranos” prequel. Slated for a September release, “The Many Saints of Newark” takes place in 1967 and stars Michael Gandolfini as a young Tony Soprano, the fictional Italian American mobster originally played by his late father, James Gandolfini, for six seasons on “The Sopranos.”
Directed by Alan Taylor, “The Many Saints of Newark” is being billed as a look at Tony Soprano’s formative years and, like the original series, takes place in New Jersey. The movie’s 1967 timeframe is noteworthy as it coincides with the real-life Newark riots, which began after a Black cab driver, John W. Smith, was beaten by police officers following a minor traffic infraction.
James Gandolfini won three Emmys for playing Tony Soprano on the HBO series, which ran from 1999 to 2007. The actor died in 2013 at age 51.
His 21-year-old son is no acting novice, having appeared in “Ocean’s 8” and the HBO series “The Deuce.” Still, “The Many Saints of Newark” ― which also stars Ray Liotta, Leslie Odom Jr. and Vera Farmiga ― looks poised to boost Michael Gandolfini’s Hollywood profile.
In a 2019 Esquire interview, the younger Gandolfini revealed that he’d never seen an episode of “The Sopranos” before auditioning for his father’s iconic role.
“The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time,” he said. “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.”
“I think what made it so hard was I had to do it alone,” Michael Gandolfini continued. “I was just sitting alone in my dark apartment, watching my dad all the time.”
Catch a first look at “The Many Saints of Newark” in the clip below.