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James Gandolfini’s Son Prepared To Play The Young Tony Soprano In A Very Intensive Way

No one could ever duplicate James Gandolfini’s turn as Tony Soprano — except perhaps his own son. When the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark drops in theaters and on HBO Max in late September, viewers will get to see Michael Gandolfini, the late actor’s own spawn, playing young Tony, as he was all the way back in 1967. But Michael didn’t rest on his father’s laurels; to prepare he went above and beyond.

In a new interview with Vanity Fair (in a bit sussed out by IndieWire), the young Gandolfini admits he never watched the legendary HBO show before taking the role. It wasn’t because he wasn’t interested. His father didn’t want him see him as Tony. “I never knew Tony Soprano,” Michael said. “I only knew my dad.”

Finally seeing his father hurt and kill people — or just shlubbily grab the morning or carefully read the back of a cereal box — wasn’t easy. “It was really hard to watch my dad,” Michael told VF. But he didn’t only watch the show’s six seasons. “I recorded four hours of his monologues with [Dr.] Melfi and walked around New York with them constantly, constantly, constantly playing in my ear.”

It’s impossible to imagine what it was like for Gandolfini’s son to live with that in his ears for so long, but, Michael told VF, he had the confidence of his director: “I had this unspoken trust that David [Chase, also the show’s creator] wasn’t going to cast me if there was even a shred that this isn’t going to work.”

In the meantime, you’ll get to see Michael act a little earlier than September 24, when The Many Saints of Newark is released: he also has a plum role in Cherry, Anthony and Joe Russo’s opioid drama starring Tom Holland.

(Via Vanity Fair and IndieWire)