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James Gandolfini's son to star in 'Sopranos' movie prequel

Michael Gandolfini is best known for playing Joey Dwyer in HBO's 'The Deuce'

Michael Gandolfini attends the "The Sopranos" 20th Anniversary Panel Discussion at SVA Theater on January 09, 2019 in New York City. Getty Images James Gandolfini in The Sopranos. Hbo/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Michael Gandolfini attends the "The Sopranos" 20th Anniversary Panel Discussion at SVA Theater on January 09, 2019 in New York City. Getty Images James Gandolfini in The Sopranos. Hbo/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

In a quite literal case of keeping it in the family, The Sopranos creator David Chase has cast Michael Gandolfini, son of the late actor James Gandolfini, as a young Tony Soprano in his coming feature film prequel to the long-running hit HBO series.

Michael’s father made the role of Tony his own over The Sopranos' six-season run, which lasted from 1999-2007, and the show set a precedent for HBO’s now-signature diet of high-quality, long-running TV dramas, including more recent shows such as The Wire and Game of Thrones. James died in 2013.

Michael will now take on the role of young Tony in Chase’s prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, which will be directed by Palookaville director Alan Taylor, who also directed nine episodes of The Sopranos. The film’s producers reportedly underwent an extensive audition process to find the perfect Tony, though they could have saved themselves the effort by simply popping round to chez Gandolfini. Michael already bears a striking resemblance to his father, and insiders on the set have claimed that the young actor has also mastered his father’s mannerisms and screen presence.

Michael is best known for his role in the HBO drama The Deuce. His new role will see him line up alongside the likes of Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Billy Magnussen and Corey Stoll in an ensemble drama that is set in the era of the 1960s Newark riots, when tensions soared between African Americans and Italians in New Jersey.

The story focuses on Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola), a mentor to young Tony. There are expected to be callbacks and shout-outs to numerous other series characters in the film.

Michael told Deadline: “It’s a profound honour to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano. I’m thrilled that I’m going to have the opportunity to work with David Chase and the incredible company of talent he has assembled for The Many Saints of Newark.”

Updated: January 24, 2019 01:43 PM

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