Fans of “The Sopranos” have an opportunity to re-enter the show’s universe with the new flick “The Many Saints of Newark” – but with some major differences.
The film is a prequel to the popular HBO mob drama, featuring many of the same characters played by new, younger actors.
Among them is Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, who played the iconic Tony Soprano. Michael, 22, plays his father’s character in the prequel, set decades before the 1999-2007 show picks up, meaning there are some things about Soprano that viewers might not recognize.
In a conversation with Fox News, Gandolfini discussed playing the role once inhabited by his father and the differences between their versions of the character.
MICHAEL GANDOLFINI SAYS PLAYING LATE FATHER’S CHARACTER TONY SOPRANO WAS ‘TOUGHEST DECISION EVER’
The young star noted that he made an effort to portray the same “physicality” as his father, such as holding his shoulders in a manner similar to the late actor.
“I really learned how to use my eyes in a way that he had his head down,” he explained.
However, there were key differences between their portrayals as well.
MICHAEL GANDOLFINI PREPPED FOR HIS TONY SOPRANO ROLE BY STUDYING HIS DAD
“I knew that if I embraced his physicality, the audience would really see a lot of Tony,” Gandolfini said. “Then I would have much more room emotionally to completely be different from him.”
Michael Gandolfini in ‘The Many Saints of Newark.
Fans also get a look at Alessandro Nivola’s Dickie Moltisanti, the father of famed “Sopranos” character Christopher Moltisanti. Fans of the show know that Christopher’s father died before the show began.
“He’s kind of trying to redefine himself in some new way but he’s not really sophisticated enough to know what that is,” Nivola dished. “On the other hand, he’s totally part of that cycle of violence that he can’t really escape.”
MICHAEL GANDOLFINI CHANNELS HIS LATE FATHER’S CHARACTER WHILE FILMING ‘SOPRANOS’ PREQUEL
For those avoiding the movie because they didn’t watch “The Sopranos,” the cast says it can be enjoyed on its own.
Left to right: Gabriella Piazza, Alessandro Nivola, Ray Liotta and Michela De Rossi in ‘The Many Saints of Newark.’
“You don’t have to be a fan or even know about the series to appreciate the movie,” said Ray Liotta.
Added Leslie Odom Jr.: When [writer] David Chase’s name is attached, you’re in the hand of a real auteur, a real visionary. So it’s exciting that we have more possibility now with this movie.”
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Chase, who created “The Sopranos,” also confirmed that there “could be” future chapters to the story.
“The Many Saints of Newark” is now playing in theaters and is streaming on HBO Max.