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(Credit: HBO)

Film

Michael Gandolfini talks about playing Tony Soprano

The Sopranos changed television forever. Usually, when a blanket statement like this is made, there’s a good chance that it’s an exaggeration. In The Sopranos’ case, it is an understatement. Starring the late legend James Gandolfini as a depressed mobster who talks about his mommy issues in therapy and ruthlessly kills people in the streets, The Sopranos created an intimate balance between the destabilised psychology of a criminal and the inherent glorifications that were rampant in the genre.

A prequel film titled The Many Saints of Newark is in the works, with a working release date of October 1. Starring James Gandolfini’s son Michael as the complex character of Tony Soprano as well as the likes of Ray Liotta and Jon Bernthal among others, The Many Saints of Newark is set in New Jersey during the race riots of 1967.

When asked about the decision to cast Michael Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, the show’s creator David Chase said that it was a no-brainer since Michael had exactly what was needed: “Right away. Mostly because he looks like his father, and moves a little bit like him. He is his father’s son. So for a movie that’s supposed to be the same character, I thought, that would be the best.”

Adding. “It felt miraculous. And sometimes when things are miraculous or astounding, you start laughing, because it’s so incredible. But I remember looking across the room at the table read. And he was sitting there like this [re-creates adult Tony’s suspicious posture], and it wasn’t his scene. He was doing this thing and I thought, ‘Holy shit. That’s incredible.'”

Recently, Michael opened up about his reservations about playing Tony Soprano to Empire Magazine and called it “the toughest decision” he has had to make: “You know, I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to walk out of this feeling like I’d grown in terms of my feelings towards my dad.

“I just wanted to be the best actor I could be,” Gandolfini continued. “Portraying Tony in the way David wanted, scene by scene. I didn’t think about my grief because… well, I would have shit the bed… My dad’s character had all this beautiful sensitivity underneath this aggression. This version of him is the reverse. His curiosity and sensitivity comes first. He’s not a gun-wielding gangster. He’s a kid who gets whittled down and pulled in.”