Tony Soprano is one of those TV roles you just can't imagine any other actor playing. James Gandolfini's performance as the New-Jersey-based mob boss is the main reason why The Sopranos was such a smash success.
That's not to take away from the stellar performances of Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, and a slew of amazing guest stars and supporting characters, but finding someone to take up the mantle of Tony is tough.
Which is probably why producers picked James' own son, Michael, for the job.
The Many Saints of Newark is a Sopranos prequel film that centers around the New Jersey mob world Tony ends up ruling. And playing the young, up-and-coming gangster is James Gandolfini's son, Michael. The show's creator, David Chase, picked the late star's son for the role, and it sounds like the 19-year-old actor is thrilled to take up the part of Tony Soprano.
In a statement he gave to Deadline, Michael said, "It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano. I’m thrilled that I’m going to have the opportunity to work with David Chase and the incredible company of talent he has assembled for The Many Saints of Newark."
Michael is naturally a dead ringer for his father, which'll be interesting and emotional for a lot of fans to view once the film hits theaters, and there are other familiar faces attached to the project as well. Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, The Walking Dead, Wolf of Wall Street) is in it, along with Billy Magnussen (Game Night), Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), and Corey Stoll (House of Cards).
The Many Saints of Newark plot tells the story of mobsters on the rise.
The film's story is set around 1967 during the Newark riots, one of 159 race riots during the "Long Hot Summer" that lasted five days and resulted in 26 deaths and hundreds of injuries. With that as the backdrop, the film tells the story of a rising group of mobsters cutting their teeth on violence and theft and jostling for territorial control in a time period of profound social change.
James Gandolfini's acting credits were staggering: His tenure on The Sopranos earned him three Emmys, three SAG Awards, and a Golden Globe. He passed away after suffering a heart attack in Rome when he was 51 years of age in 2013.
David Chase, when asked by GQ writer David Brent how important Gandolfini's work was to the success of the show, didn't mince words, "'It meant everything.' What he brought to that role, the depth and the humanity and the kind of soulfulness, as well as the ugliness and the anger. It changed television forever, really."
James Gandolfini's son Michael is no stranger to Hollywood.
Michael, although young, already has some impressive acting credits on his resume. He has a featured role in The Deuce as Joey Dwyer, not bad for one of your first acting gigs. He had a small role as a busboy in Ocean's Eight, and has two other projects currently in post-production following the release of The Many Saints of Newark in 2020.
He also wrote, produced, and acted in a short film titled Flower that received critical acclaim on the independent circuit. Pretty cool for someone who isn't even legally allowed to consume alcohol yet.
The release date for The Many Saints of Newark is currently slated for September 25, 2020. I'd imagine that a lot more buzz will be circulating around Michael's name come this time next year.
As for The Deuce, it's third and final season will be airing September 9, 2019, and you can see Michael perform throughout. Here he is below against a very Deuce-ey looking backdrop courtesy of HBO.
Are you excited to see Michael take on his father's role on the big screen? Or are you Sopranos-ed out at this point?