Michael Gandolfini will play his late father, James Gandolfini as a young Tony Soprano in The Sopranos prequel; The Many Saints of Newark, a film speculated to be released sometime in 2020. Among the top billed cast are heavy hitters like – Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Bates Motel, Up in the Air), Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, The Walking Dead) and Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle, Face/Off). The simple fact that this film is even being made is an exciting experience for devout Sopranos fans everywhere! However, with all of the electricity in the air surrounding the pre-production of this piece, there is an undeniably equal amount of cringe. And some critical concerns arise regarding screenwriter David Chase‘s third film such as, Can any after product of the masterpiece that is The Sopranos really do it any justice?
Or are we doomed to fall victim to the common Hollywood pitfall of films we loved that were ruined by sequels? Granted, The Sopranos wasn’t technically a film but lets be honest here – it was hella cinematic. With an average run time of roughly an hour each episode, the little known cast burst into our living rooms in a way that we’ve never seen before. And just like that, the infamous New Jersey family made us an offer we couldn’t refuse: watch the show and you’ll fall in love. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the cast we fell in love with was spearheaded by the Starkly emotional, often beautifully bestial performance of none other than James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. The larger than life character hoisted the show up on his back for six successful seasons; giving fans an experience like none other.
Unquestionably, the actor (like many greats preceding him) seemed to draw on something substantially personal to reach those iconic pinnacles of aggression he was known for (especially considering the fact that what we knew of the real James was anything but aggressive). That being said, can Michael Gandolfini credibly portray the young mobster on the mean streets of a vintage Newark, NJ? James himself had spent a good chunk of his formative years bouncing at Jersey nightclubs thus solidifying himself as a real life bad ass. Combined with being raised by blue collar Italian immigrant parents and receiving a formal education in acting, the blocks were certainly laid that would eventually build America’s favorite anti-hero in the late 90s.
The million dollar question is; Does Mikey Boy have the chops? According to an IndieWire article, the grim portrayal of Tony Soprano took a heavy emotional toll on James creating an uncomfortable rift in his personal/private affairs. Consequently, celebrating the role of that character wasn’t exactly a household event for the Gandolfini family. See a young Michael Gandolfini explain to TMZ that he wasn’t allowed to be exposed to the show.
And understandably so, as any loving patriarch would do, James sought the ideal environment for his tribe – Wholesome, safe, happy, and quite possibly implemented the quasi-sheltered existence that many families of celebrities are subjected to in order to preserve their privacy. And hey, I can’t fault the guy, I’d likely do the same thing. But let’s get down to brass tax. How will this type of background serve Michael Gandolfini as he embarks on the role of a lifetime: Brick City terror, young Tony Soprano. I don’t know. However, what I do know is that Michael is playing with the big boys now. Do you guys think he’ll run home with his tail tucked between his legs? Let us know. See what they have to say about it on the John Campea show.