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How The Many Saints Of Newark Landed On Its Surprising Narrator, According To Director Alan Taylor

Major spoilers for The Many Saints of Newark lie ahead. 

Fans of The Sopranos are sure to be pleased with The Many Saints of Newark, as the film adds a number of fresh elements to the iconic franchise. It’s also filled with a number of big surprises that are sure to please audiences. One of the biggest shockers is likely the fact that the movie is narrated by Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). It’s an interesting creative choice, especially considering the fact that Christopher (who died near the end of the HBO series) is narrating from beyond the grave. But according to director Alan Taylor, the idea came together in a relatively organic way. 

The film opens at Christopher’s grave and, from there, he regales viewers with key details regarding the lives of his relatives. He also remarks on his own death at the hands of his “uncle,” Tony Soprano. Having Moltisanti serve as the narrator is a nice way to further link the movie to the original show but, believe it or not, the idea wasn’t developed until much later in the creative process. Alan Taylor revealed to me that he and his collaborators always imagined the story being led by a narrative voice, but David Chase didn’t land on the exact character until the nationwide quarantine last year:

...if I can spoil the process a little bit, because it was interesting to me that this was one more case that happens all the time where one of the key features of the movie came in at the very, very end. We had other ways of beginning this movie, and then we broke for COVID. And David had some time to think, and he invented the narrator idea you're mentioning. There was always a kind of narrative voice taking us into the movie, but who that was going to be and how it was going to be imagined came in very late in the process. And I was very happy with it because it sort of pulled the movie together in a way that was new, I think. And when you think about it in our relationship to the show, there's something right about who this guy [or] person is, and what his relationship with the story is that we're telling.

Alan Taylor does make a good point. Considering The Many Saints of Newark centers on Dickie Moltisanti (Christopher’s father), it makes plenty of sense that his son would be the one to tell the tale. And of course, the creative decision is even more compelling due to Chris’ fiery relationship with Tony Soprano. 

Micahel Imperioli, who won a Primetime Emmy for his performance as Christopher on The Sopranos, does a masterful job in his reprisal of the role. Here, his work is a lot more understated, but no less powerful. His final line in the film, in which he refers to young Tony Soprano as “the man he went to hell for,” is particularly chilling. 

Christopher’s inclusion is somewhat bittersweet, though, because it may have been the reason that another OG Sopranos character was cut from the movie. Alan Taylor recently revealed that Edie Falco’s Carmela Soprano was set to return, and he later exclusively revealed to CinemaBlend that she was meant to appear in the movie’s opening. Although Christopher was arguably the more logical character to use, it would’ve been awesome to see Falco return to her own Emmy-winning role.

Future projects related to The Sopranos have yet to be confirmed but, following David Chase’s new deal with HBO, there could be more on the way. And if they do happen, let’s hope they include more veteran characters like Christopher. Sure, Chase and co. probably aren’t interested in retreading old ground, but Michael Imperioli’s inclusion in this film proves that fan favorites can indeed be integrated into new stories in seamless ways. 

The Many Saints of Newark is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max until October 31.

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.