In January 2019, news broke that Michael Gandolfini had been chosen to play the younger version of his father’s most iconic character. His resemblance to James Gandolfini obviously worked in his favor, but Sopranos showrunner David Chase (who is behind the prequel movie, titled The Many Saints of Newark) didn’t give Michael a free pass. Auditions were held, but Tony Soprano’s flesh and blood was the best of the lot, reported Deadline.
“His resemblance to Tony Soprano is uncanny,” Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. said. “The filmmakers engaged in an extensive audition process to find the young Tony before Gandolfini won the role. Insiders said that his screen presence, mastery of Tony’s mannerisms, coupled with his resemblance to the elder Gandolfini made him the standout choice for the role because no one there understood the character better.”
Michael joins a cast that already includes Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Billy Magnussen, and Corey Stoll. Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World, Game of Thrones) is directing the prequel, which is set in “the era of the ’60s Newark riots, when African Americans and Italians of that city were at each others throats,” Fleming said. “The story focuses on Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola), a mentor to young Tony as his own father, Johnny Boy, was grooming his son on a pathway to organized crime prominence.”
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