It's been more than a decade since the classic TV series The Sopranos aired its last (and arguably most contested) episode, but that doesn't mean fans are quite ready to let go of the family.
The Many Saints of Newark is a prequel film to the series, following the Soprano family before the events of the television series. Janice and Tony Soprano get younger on-screen counterparts in the upcoming film.
Actress Mattea Conforti, who plays young Janice, spoke exclusively with Distractify about preparing for the iconic role and her real-life family's connection to the series.
Mattea's family grew up watching 'The Sopranos.'
When Mattea began filming for The Many Saints of Newark, she was only 12 and wasn't yet allowed to watch The Sopranos, but her family were big fans of the show.
"They were like, no offense, no pressure or anything but yeah you gotta do this well, because there's a lot riding on you," she says.
But having a family who loved the original series so much, she says, really helped her get into character. (It also helped that she's from New Jersey, so she says the accent was easy to nail.)
"My grandparents actually grew up in the exact same time period in the exact same town that the Sopranos grew up in," she says. "They told me about riots happening during that time and pretty much everything that was going on, so that helped me get into character and feel how they were feeling during that time period."
Mattea says she had to balance the tough exterior of the Janice everyone knows and loves with the knowledge that she was portraying a much younger version of her.
"I actually think that she was definitely a bit of a mess," Mattea says of Janice. "I wanted to give a little bit of that persona, but also, I was the younger version of her — I wasn't the teen version or the adult version of [Janice], so she was still like a little kid to me. I wanted to balance out her exterior persona and still get that little kid innocence about her."
Mattea worked alongside William Ludwig to portray young Janice and Tony Soprano, respectively.
Mattea and young actor William Ludwig worked together to portray the younger version of the famous brother and sister duo, Janice and Tony Soprano. She says it helped that Michael Gandolfini — the son of James Gandolfini, who played Tony in the original series — was on set with them. She says she and William worked very well with Alexandra Intrator and Michael, who play teenage Janice and teenage Tony.
"The resemblance was so alike — we all had the same personalities and we all delivered lines so similarly onset," Mattea says. "I was definitely like, 'Oh my God. Are you sure you're not the future version of me right now?'"
She says the relationship between Tony and Janice is very similar to her relationship with her own brother.
"They're brother and sister, they're going to banter a couple of times, but they're always still gonna be there for each other," she says. "There's a really strong sense of family and togetherness in the Sopranos and you definitely feel that energy coming off of the movie."
The Many Saints of Newark premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on Oct. 1.