Michael Gandolfini: Playing Tony Soprano was 'therapeutic for me as an actor' (exclusive)

·3 min read
(L-r) MICHAEL GANDOLFINI as Teenage Tony Soprano and ALESSANDRO NIVOLA as Dickie Moltisanti in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
(L-r) MICHAEL GANDOLFINI as Teenage Tony Soprano and ALESSANDRO NIVOLA as Dickie Moltisanti in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The Many Saints of Newark sees 22-year-old Michael Gandolfini inherit the larger-than-life role of Tony Soprano, a part made famous by his father in the HBO hit The Sopranos.

Throughout six series, James Gandolfini redefined the modern mobster with his iconic take on the troubled mafia Don struggling to juggle his crime family and his actual family.

Now, 14 years after the show ended and eight years after his father’s untimely death, the actor’s son takes up the Soprano mantle, playing a younger but no less troubled version of Tony.

For the movie’s breakout star, inhabiting the character that shot his father to worldwide acclaim was one that was ultimately therapeutic: just not in the way you might think.

Read more: Where are the cast of The Sopranos now?

“I don’t know if it was therapeutic in regards to me and my dad but I’d definitely say it was very therapeutic to me as a young actor,” he told Yahoo.

Watch the cast of The Many Saints of Newark talk to Yahoo

“To feel that I am worthy enough to be a part of this industry and can give things to my fellow actors and really be an actor - and a valuable one in regards to helping tell a story and telling David’s [Chase, series creator] vision and telling the story with the other actors - that part was really, really helpful,” admits Gandolfini. 

“I learned a ton.”

Read more: James Gandolfini will be 'the proudest guy in Heaven'

Meanwhile for Director Alan Taylor — the same filmmaker who helmed many of the show’s most popular episodes — jumping back into The Sopranos world was a decision he didn’t take lightly.

(L-r) VERA FARMIGA as Livia Soprano and MICHAEL GANDOLFINI as Teenage Tony Soprano in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
(L-r) VERA FARMIGA as Livia Soprano and MICHAEL GANDOLFINI as Teenage Tony Soprano in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

“There was a tremendous trepidation, partly because the show was so good and the fans were so dedicated to it,” he tells us, commenting on the enduring legacy of a show that’s only become more beloved over time. “The danger of screwing it up loomed large.”

Thankfully, Chase and Taylor’s gamble in telling a story revolving around the much talked about but never seen Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), father to Christopher and mentor to young Tony, paid off.

(L-r) MICHAEL GANDOLFINI as Teenage Tony Soprano and ALESSANDRO NIVOLA as Dickie Moltisanti in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
(L-r) MICHAEL GANDOLFINI as Teenage Tony Soprano and ALESSANDRO NIVOLA as Dickie Moltisanti in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

For Taylor, the same filmmaker who directed Thor: The Dark World, Terminator Genisys and episodes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones, it was an equally therapeutic moment.

Read more: The greatest ever Sopranos moments

“I had sort of grown up on that show,” he tells us, casting his mind back to when he first joined the show in 1999, steering the sixth episode in The Sopranos’ first series. “I started not long after film school and learned a lot on that show and since then I’ve gone off into the world and had good experiences and terrible experiences. Coming back to that show to do the movie after all of that felt like a great homecoming,” he smiles. 

“It felt like a great place to be as a filmmaker.”

The Many Saints of Newark is in cinemas now. Watch a trailer below.

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