A First Look at How Tony Soprano Became Tony Soprano: Watch the New Trailer for The Many Saints of Newark

When The Sopra­nos drew to a close four­teen years ago, its ambigu­ous yet some­how defin­i­tive final scene hard­ly promised a con­tin­u­a­tion of the New Jer­sey mafia saga. Since then, fans have had to make do with reflec­tions, his­to­ries, and exege­ses, up to and includ­ing re-watch pod­casts host­ed by the actors them­selves. As time has passed the show has only drawn high­er and high­er acclaim, which can’t be said about every prod­uct of the ongo­ing “gold­en age of tele­vi­sion dra­ma” The Sopra­nos got start­ed. A return to the well was per­haps inevitable, and indeed has just been announced: The Many Saints of Newark, a pre­quel film co-writ­ten by David Chase, the cre­ator cred­it­ed with con­tribut­ing to the orig­i­nal series a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of its genius.

Onscreen, The Sopra­nos drew its pow­er from one Sopra­no above all: local mob boss Tony Sopra­no, as por­trayed by James Gan­dolfi­ni in what has been ranked among the great­est screen act­ing achieve­ments of all time. Whether or not Tony sur­vived that final scene, Gan­dolfi­ni died in 2013, and ever since it has been impos­si­ble to imag­ine any oth­er actor por­tray­ing the char­ac­ter — or at least por­tray­ing the char­ac­ter in a mod­ern-day set­ting.

Telling the sto­ry of a Tony Sopra­no in his youth, with a young actor nec­es­sar­i­ly play­ing him, has remained a viable propo­si­tion. Into that role, for the 1960s and 70s-set The Many Saints of Newark, has stepped Gan­dolfini’s real-life son Michael.

For the then-20-year-old Michael Gan­dolfi­ni, tak­ing over his father’s role had to be a daunt­ing prospect, espe­cial­ly since he’d nev­er seen The Sopra­nos before. At least one binge-watch of the series (among oth­er rig­or­ous forms of prepa­ra­tion) lat­er, he deliv­ered the per­for­mance of which you can take a first look in The Many Saints of Newark’s new trail­er above. “As rival gangs try to wrest con­trol from the DiMeo crime fam­i­ly in the race-torn city of Newark,” Con­se­quence Film’s Ben Kaye writes of its sto­ry, the young Antho­ny Sopra­no, a promis­ing but indif­fer­ent stu­dent with an eye on col­lege, “gets swept up in the vio­lence and crime by his uncle Dick­ie Molti­san­ti.” As Sopra­nos fans know full well, “Antho­ny becomes the feared mob head Tony Sopra­no and treats Dickie’s son, Christo­pher, as his pro­tégé.” Evi­dent­ly, an anti­hero of Tony’s stature is made, not born.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How David Chase Breathed Life into the The Sopra­nos

Rewatch Every Episode of The Sopra­nos with the Talk­ing Sopra­nos Pod­cast, Host­ed by Michael Impe­ri­oli & Steve Schirri­pa

David Chase Reveals the Philo­soph­i­cal Mean­ing of The Sopra­nos’ Final Scene

Why James Gandolfini’s Tony Sopra­no Is “the Great­est Act­ing Achieve­ment Ever Com­mit­ted to the Screen”: A Video Essay

The Nine Minute Sopra­nos

James Gan­dolfi­ni Shows Kinder, Soft­er, Gen­tler Side on Sesame Street (2002)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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