Michael Gandolfini, star of the upcoming film The Many Saints of Newark, admits that he had never seen an episode of The Sopranos before auditioning for the role of Tony Soprano. Gandolfini is the son of the late James Gandolfini, who originally played Tony in HBO’s hit series. The elder Gandolfini brought the iconic character to life as the Italian-American mob boss attempted to balance his family and lead a criminal organization in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Tony Soprano is back in The Many Saints of Newark, this time being portrayed by Gandolfini’s son, Michael. HBO’s upcoming movie takes place during the 1960s and 1970s, serving as a prequel to the original series. The film finds Tony as a teenager in the midst of a gang war his family is involved in. Though Michael is the son of the late Gandolfini, he wasn’t immediately cast as Tony. However, after auditioning for the role, the movie’s creators knew they made the right decision in casting him when he thanked the team for allowing him to “say hello and goodbye again” to his dad. While the younger Gandolfini may seem right for the role, it appears he may be behind on a few episodes of the original show.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon posted a clip to its YouTube page of an interview with the younger Gandolfini about his role in The Many Saints of Newark. During the clip, Gandolfini admits to an astonished Fallon and audience that he had never seen an episode of The Sopranos before being cast as Tony. On his first-ever late night talk show interview, the up-and-coming actor had to assure his host that he has seen the classic show since auditioning and landing the role. Watch the full clip below:
The younger Gandolfini has several good excuses for never watching The Sopranos before taking on his father’s character. For one, Gandolfini was born just four months after the HBO series first aired, which means by the time the show ended he was only eight years old. Additionally, the untimely death of this father in 2013 likely created another reason for him to avoid the show, which Gandolfini elaborates on during the interview, saying, “The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time.” What’s more, the younger Ganfolfini is not the only The Many Saints of Newark star who hasn’t seen The Sopranos, with Alessandro Nivola (who plays a young Dickie Moltisanti) also admitting he’s never seen an episode. Also, Ray Liotta still says to this day that he’s only ever seen a few episodes of the series.
While Gandolfini has more of an excuse for avoiding the show than Nivola or Liotta, the younger Tony Soprano actor has, thankfully, since seen the entire show. In fact, he is now so familiar with it that during filming The Many Saints of Newark the actor says he would have to occasionally reshoot a scene if he acted too much like his father from the original series. Nonetheless, casting the younger Gandolfini in the role made famous by his father is a fitting choice to honor the legacy of The Sopranos, and it will be very interesting to see how he interprets the late James Gandolfini’s iconic character.