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What The Many Saints Of Newark’s Michael Gandolfini Was Most ‘Concerned’ About While Preparing To Play Tony Soprano

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After more than 14 years, fans of HBO’s The Sopranos will finally be able to dive back into David Chase’s mafia-filled world through The Many Saints of Newark. Set in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the film primarily focuses on new characters, but it also features a number of familiar faces from the original series, including the one and only Tony Soprano. However, this incarnation of the character is much younger and played by Michael Gandolfini, who’s taking over for his late father, James Gandolfini. As you can imagine the up-and-coming actor did a lot to prepare for the role, and there was one aspect of the process that made him particularly “concerned.”

Tony Soprano is one of the most recognizable characters in all of pop culture, so Michael Gandolfini had the challenging task of nailing the various aspects of the role his father made famous. Through watching the series, Gandolfini was able to get a sense of Tony’s mannerisms, from his posture to facial expressions (which probably wasn’t hard given how much the actor resembles his dad). However, when I spoke to the rising star about his preparation for The Many Saints of Newark, he explained that the character’s accent proved to be a real challenge:

I think the accent was one of the things I was most concerned with, at first. Just, I look so much also like my dad… but I could just watch it and sort of like his gestures and the nose and the way he stands, like all that comes sort of just by watching it and learning how to hold his eyes and how he looks up and all that. But the accent took a long time to develop. One, because it really doesn't exist. Like, it's kinda like a Jersey accent, but it's like really nasally high and the lisp... and it changes throughout the seasons. So working with Kohli [Calhoun], who was the acting coach and really like perfecting that was going to be something that was really important to the fans and really important to me. So I said that was one of the more daunting things to sort of embody this character.

Those who’ve seen The Sopranos know that Tony Soprano does indeed have a distinct way of speaking. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s actually a major piece of continuity, one that Michael Gandolfini clearly put a lot of thought into.

Though there were certain elements of the character that needed to remain consistent, Michael Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano is quite different from his father’s. The Many Saints of Newark presents Tony as a jovial -- and somewhat mischievous -- young man, who is still years away from becoming the hardened mob boss viewers watched on The Sopranos. You can check out the entire series by streaming it on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.

Michael Gandolfini deserves a lot of credit for choosing to take on the job. Of course, he’s stepping into the shoes of an iconic character, but there’s also the fact that he’s taking over for his own dad, which one would imagine is somewhat bittersweet. But having seen the film, I can say that Gandolfini certainly nails the role and deftly honors his father’s legacy in the process.

The Many Saints of Newark hits both theaters and HBO Max on October 1.

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.