The Sopranos are back! Tony, Paulie, Junior and Livia make their long-awaited return to screens – but as their younger selves in prequel film The Many Saints of Newark
- The Many Saints of Newark is set nearly 40 years before The Sopranos series and tracks the rise of Tony Soprano from troubled teen to powerful mob boss
- The series was plagued with push backs due to the coronavirus pandemic. The prequel was slated for a 2020 release but will now be released on October 1 in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max
The release of The Many Saints of Newark trailer on Tuesday left fans of the original Sopranos delighted as they reminisced about the iconic Nineties drama series.
Set nearly forty years before the show, the prequel film reveals how a young Tony Soprano went from a scrappy teenager to a hardened mob boss against the backdrop of the 1967 race riots in Newark, New Jersey.
Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolises, Dickie Moltisanti, who struggles to manage both his professional and personal responsibilities and whose influence over his nephew helps make the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss we’ll later come to know.
The Sopranos centered around mob boss Tony Soprano and his dealings with his family and The Family while also seeking treatment for panic attacks. The hit show was one of the first of it’s kind and ran for six seasons on HBO from 1999 to 2007.
It made a star of actor James Gandolfini, won numerous awards including Golden Globes, Emmys and SAG Awards, and is often credited for the kicking off the stellar trend of television dramas in the 2000s and 2010s.
Like most recent projects, The Many Saints of Newark, was plagued with push backs due to the coronavirus pandemic. The prequel was slated for a 2020 release but will now be released on October 1 in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max.
Now, as the first trailer for the prequel has finally dropped, MailOnline takes a look at who has replaced the original castmembers, which includes two sons of the former stars.
Father and son: Originally played by James Gandolfini (right) the leading role of the Italian American mob boss is being taken over by his son, Michael. James won’t see his son take on his famous role, as he died of a heart attack at the age of 51
SERIES: James Gandolfini
PREQUEL: Michael Gandolfini
Originally played by James Gandolfini, the leading role of the Italian American mob boss is being taken over by his son, Michael.
The 22-year-old followed in his father’s acting footsteps taking on small roles in Ocean’s Eight and HBO’s The Deuce last year. Tragically, James won’t see his son take on his famous role, as he died of a heart attack at the age of 51.
Michael prepared for the role by watching The Sopranos’ first season for the first time, learning his father’s many monologues for the audition.
Ties that bind: The role of Dickie – a charismatic but violent man who falls in love with his own father’s much-younger bride – is being taken over by Alesandro Nivola (left) it was orginally played by Michael Imperioli (right)
SERIES: Michael Imperioli
PREQUEL: Alessandro Nivola
The role of Dickie – a charismatic but violent man who falls in love with his own father’s much-younger bride – is being taken over by Alesandro Nivola, who previously described the gig as a ‘role of a lifetime’.
Speaking to EW, Alessandro revealed: ‘[Showrunner] David Chase wrote me the role of a lifetime. Far and away, filming this movie was the most exciting thing in my career so far.
‘It’s an incredibly nuanced, violent, funny, charming, scary, morally confused person, and it was an absolute joy to play.’
Mother knows best: Taking on the iconic role of Livia, the mother of Tony Soprano, is The Conjuring star Vera Farmiglia (left) it was a role originally played by Nancy Marchand (right)
SERIES: Nancy Marchand
PREQUEL: Vera Farmigli
Taking on the iconic role of Livia, the mother of Tony Soprano, is The Conjuring star Vera Farmiglia.
It’s a role close to creator David’s heart, as he’s admitted he based the character on his own mum, Norma Chase. He described her as being paranoid, sharp-tongued, abusive, and disregarding of her son’s career achievements.
The character is so iconic that in 2016, nine years after the series ended, Rolling Stone ranked her #3 of their 40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time’.
Younger years: Tony’s sister Janice Soprano will be featured in the prequel played by 15-year-old Mattea Conforti who has met the role’s previous actress Aida Turturro (right) in real life
SERIES: Aida Turturro
PREQUEL: Mattea Conforti
Taking on the role of Janice – the elder sister of Tony – is 15-year-old Mattea Conforti, who has a tough role ahead of her as the original series already saw child actors take on the younger role in flashback scenes played by Madeline Blue and Juliet Fox.
Aida recently filmed a Cameo message for the grandfather of Mattea and recalled telling him: ‘I heard your eldest one is playing me — well, not me, the character Janice in the movie. I think I met her? Lovely, beautiful girl. Bravo to her.’
While Mattea may only be 15, she’s already landed a few big roles, notably in the TV series Power and as the voice of Young Elsa in Frozen II.
Johnny Boy Soprano
Room to play: As Tony’s father, Giovanni ‘Johnny Boy’ Soprano, only featured in flashbacks newcomer Jon Bernthal (left) has some room for interpretation in the role. In the series he was portrayed by Joseph Siravo
SERIES: Joseph Siravo
PREQUEL: Jon Bernthal
As Tony’s father, Giovanni ‘Johnny Boy’ Soprano, only featured in flashbacks and dream sequences in the original series, newcomer Jon Bernthal has some room for interpretation in the role.
The role will be an interesting one, however, as in the various times Johnny Boy popped up in the series it was clear that he had a tense and fractured relationship with Tony.
Jon has said that he was ‘grateful’ to be given the role. Telling EW: ‘I was enormously grateful to be able to do it alongside Mikey Gandolfini, and the personal journey that he’s on and what it meant for him and his father’.
Legendary: Tony’s uncle and the official boss of the DiMeo crime family will be making a return for the prequel with Corey Stoll (left) stepping into the role. He was originally played by Dominic Chianese (right)
SERIES: Dominic Chianese
PREQUEL: Corey Stoll
Tony’s uncle and the official boss of the DiMeo crime family – originally played by Dominic Chianese – will be making a return for the prequel. Although the character was portrayed in flashbacks by Rocco Sisto, the prequel will see Corey Stoll step into the role.
It will be interesting to see the younger dynamics between Junior and Tony, as the characters frequently butted heads in the series.
The character has a special place in creator David’s heart, who previously said: ‘I was always very satisfied with the stories about Junior, what Junior became and how it started. He was everybody’s favorite character to write.’
Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri
Unpredictable! Taking on the role of Tony’s violent, impulsive, and paranoid chief henchmen Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri is Billy Magnussen. The role was played by Tony Sirico in the series
SERIES: Tony Sirico
PREQUEL: Billy Magnussen
Taking on the role of Tony’s violent, impulsive, and paranoid chief henchmen Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri is Billy Magnussen.
The unpredictable yet loyal henchman killed nine people in the series, the largest total of any character on the show, so it will be interesting to see when his murderous tendencies first began.
In the series, Tony originally auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior, but after Dominic landed the role he agreed to take on Gualtieri under the condition that his character would not ‘become a rat’.
WHO HAS YET TO BE NAMED?
Who are you? Ray Liotta has landed a role in The Many Saints of Newark, but his character has been kept tightly under wraps, as has actress Michela De Rossi playing an ‘ambitious’ Italian immigrant who comes to America to settle in New Jersey
Ray Liotta has landed a role in The Many Saints of Newark, but his character has been kept tightly under wraps. He was the first person to be cast in the prequel by creator David, who had previously considered the star for the part of Ralph Cifaretto on The Sopranos. The role ended up going to Joe Pantoliano.
Actor and screenwriter Nick Vallelonga has been cast in the prequel but his character is yet to be announced. Interestingly, his real life father, Tony Lip had a starring role in The Sopranos, playing crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi.
Italian actress Michela De Rossi has also landed a part in the prequel, playing an ‘ambitious’ Italian immigrant who comes to America to settle in New Jersey – her character has not been named.
Leslie Odom Jr. has been cast as a character named Harold McBrayer while Germar Terrell Gardner stars as Cyril, but no further information has been released on these roles.
Wait and see: Actor and screenwriter Nick Vallelonga (left) has been cast in the prequel but his character is yet to be announced. His real life father, Tony Lip (right) had a starring role in The Sopranos, playing crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi
Details incoming: Leslie Odom Jr. (left) has been cast as a character named Harold McBrayer while Germar Terrell Gardner (right) stars as Cyril, but no further information has been released on these roles
WHAT ABOUT THE CREW?
While the cast members may be all new, there are key alumni of the original show returning.
David Chase, The Sopranos‘s creator, showrunner, head writer and producer is back on board for the movie and co-wrote the script with Sopranos staff writer Lawrence Konner.
A former Sopranos director, who helmed nine episodes of the series, Alan Taylor, has returned for the movie.
THE SOPRANOS CAST: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
By CHRIS PLEASANCE FOR MAILONLINE
It was the series that remade TV – scooping dozens of awards and making stars out of its cast along the way.
The Sopranos first aired 22 years ago this January, before wrapping up 86 episodes and six seasons later, in 2007.
Now, as Michael Gandolfini – son of leading man James Gandolfini – prepares to play his father’s character Tony Soprano in a prequel film, Mail Online examines what happened to the cast since the curtain dropped.
Iconic: The Sopranos first aired 22 years ago this January, before wrapping up 86 episodes and six seasons later, in 2007; the entire cast pictured in 1999
James Gandolfini – Tony Soprano
Playing an anxiety-prone mob boss juggling the demands of his figurative family – the Mafia – with his literal family was breakout star of the show, James Gandolfini.
Balancing the ruthlessness expected of a mob boss with a repressed emotional side and the tenderness requires of a family patriarch, Gandolfini’s portrayal earned him three Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Golden Globe.
James Gandolfini (right in 2013) played leading many Tony Soprano
Sadly, the actor passed away in 2013 aged 51 while on holiday with his family in Rome from a heart attack.
He was found unconscious on his hotel floor by son Michael who alerted the emergency services, but was pronounced dead in hospital.
Michael, now aged 22, is currently portraying a young Tony Soprano in prequel film The Many Saints of Newark, due for release in 2021.
Michael Gandolfini, now aged 22, is currently portraying a young Tony Soprano in prequel film The Many Saints of Newark (left in 2019) due for release in 2021
Edie Falco – Carmela Soprano
Tony’s trophy wife who decided to turn a blind eye to his many affairs and means of income and focus instead on the income itself.
Living a life of luxury did not solve all of Carmela’s problems, however, as she struggled to raise her two children against a backdrop of immorality and violence.
Carmela Soprano, Tony’s long-suffering wife, was played by Edie Falco who has appeared often on TV since (pictured left in character, right in 2020)
Falco, who won three Emmys, two Golden Globes and five Screen Actors Guild Awards as Carmela, went on to star as the eponymous hero in series Nurse Jackie.
She also worked alongside Louis C.K. in web series Horace and Pete, and as attorney Leslie Abramson in Law & Order True Crime.
In 2011 she also won a Tony Award for her role in the Broadway revival of The House of Blue Leaves. Edie stayed in the HBO family as the title character in Nurse Jackie from 2009-2015.
She will portray Hillary Clinton in season three of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series American Crime Story in September 2021 which follows President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal and impeachment.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler – Meadow Soprano
Growing up as the child of a notorious mobster comes with its challenges, especially for the principled Meadow – who struggles to reconcile how her father makes his money with the benefits it brings her.
Aged 17 when The Sopranos first aired, she carved out an acting career for herself in parallel with the TV series.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler was 17 when she was cast as Meadow Soprano (left), and has appeared in TV shows since, including HBO’s Entourage (pictured right in January 2020)
She appeared in a Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast as Belle between 2002 and 2003, and played the titular character in Cinderella at Madison Square Garden in 2001.
Since the series wrapped she has made sporadic TV appearances, including as herself in two series of HBO’s Entourage.
She has also featured in episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Ugly Betty, and appeared in the music video for The Lonely Island’s song Jizz In My Pants.
Sigler dabbed in other fields – releasing an album in 2001 that flopped and she later said had embarrassed her – and modeled in FHM.
Robert Iler – AJ Soprano
The youngest child of Tony and Carmela, he starts the series as the innocent if badly-behaved tearaway of the family who fails to live up to his father’s many expectations.
As the series goes on his innocence is shattered and he begins to exhibit all of Tony’s negative traits, leading to a battle with depression.
Robert Iler was just 13 when he was selected to play Tony’s son AJ (left) after working on commercials. He got into trouble with the law during filming, and has worked in TV seldom since (pictured right in January 2019)
Robert had featured in commercial for Pizza Hut and bit-parts on SNL before he was cast as AJ aged just 13.
He appeared sporadically in other TV roles while the show was on air – including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – and just one since, also in Law & Order.
In 2001, Robert was arrested for armed robbery of two Brazilian tourists in the Upper East Side and possession of marijuana and was given three years’ probation. After suffering from substance abuse he became sober in 2013.
Lorraine Bracco – Jennifer Melfi
Tony’s psychiatrist and outlet for his anxiety and deeply repressed emotions, Jennifer was both fascinated and repulsed by the mobster.
Advised by her colleagues, loved ones and her own better nature to part ways with Tony, she never-the-less commits to helping him through his troubles.
A star of Goodfellas, Bracco (right in 2019) agreed to work on The Sopranos only if she could play Tony’s morally conflicted psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (left). She has continued to appear in films and TV since (pictured right this year), and did some voice acting in Bojack Horseman
Bracco was a former model, the wife of Harvey Kietel, and starred in mobster mega-hit Goodfellas alongside Robert de Niro before landing her Sopranos role.
While creator David Chase wanted her to play Carmela, Bracco said she would only sign on if she was allowed to take the role of Dr Melfi.
She appeared extensively in other shows and films during The Sopranos’ run, including Riding In Cars With Boys and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
Since the series wrapped, she has starred in TV movie Long Island Confidential, series I Married a Mobster and Blue Bloods, and as a voice actor in Bojack Horseman.
Most recently, Bracco purchased a 200-year-old home in Sambuca di Sicilia, Italy for just one euro which she went on to renovate for the HGTV series My Big Italian Adventure.
Michael Imperioli – Christopher Moltisanti
Tony’s distantly-related cousin, fellow mobster, and chosen protege – Christopher is driven by a desire for success and notoriety that sees him at odds with Tony’s ‘strong, silent type’ image and butting heads with his older ‘colleagues’.
His character is also a drug addict who is frequently abusive to his partner, and is ultimately whacked.
Michael Imperioli was a veteran of Goodfellas before being cast as Christopher Moltisanti (left) in The Sopranos, and has continued his careers as an actor and screenwriter since (right in April 2019)
He scooped a Primetime Emmy for his portrayal in 2004.
An experienced actor before the series began – starring alongside Bracco in Goodfellas, along with appearances in Jungle Fever, Bad Boys and Malcolm X – he has appeared extensively in film and TV since.
Imperioli played Detective Ray Carling in the US adaptation of British cop show Life On Mars, and followed fellow Sopranos cast members into the Law & Order series, playing NYPD Detective Nick Falco.
He played Detective Louis Fitch in the ABC police drama Detroit 1-8-7 until it was cancelled, and in 2008 he achieved character Christopher’s dream of writing a feature film, entitled The Hungry Ghosts.
Michael had stints on several series since The Sopranos like Californication, Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods.
Andrea Donna de Matteo – Adriana La Cerva
Christopher’s girlfriend-turned-wife, she is vain, obsessed with money and material goods, and desperate for fame.
Often a victim of violence at Christopher’s hand, she turns mole in the later series but refuses to give up the family’s deepest secrets.
Shallow, materialistic, stupid and vain – Andrea Donna de Matteo (right in 2019) won a Primetime Emmy for her portrayal of Adriana la Cerva (left). She has continued acting since, and played Joey Tribbiani’s sister on Friends spin-off series Joey
Matteo won a Primetime Emmy award for the role in 2004, alongside Imperioli.
She used her Sopranos fame to launch a silver screen career, including appearances in Swordfish, Assault on Precinct 13, Dark Places, and Sex, Death and Bowling.
Matteo has also appeared in numerous TV shows since The Sopranos ended, including as Joey Tribbiani’s sister Gina in Friends spin-off Joey.
She also starred in Sons of Anarchy, Desperate Housewives, CSI: Miami, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Dominic Chianese – Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano
Tony’s petulant, resentful, power-hungry uncle who conspires with his mother early on to have him whacked so he can assume control of the family.
Out-played at the game of power by Tony he is ultimately left frail and confused after suffering from dementia.
A good friend of Al Pacino, Dominic Chianese (right in 2019) was an experienced film actor when he took the part of Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano (left) in the series. He has continued acting since, including in Boardwalk Empire, and still finds work aged 90
Good friends with Al Pacino, Chianese was well-known before The Sopranos started having starred in The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, …And Justice For All, and Looking for Richard.
He continued to find work well into his 80s, including voice acting in Mr. Popper’s Penguins as well as TV appearances in Boardwalk Empire and The Good Wife.
He appeared this year in new NBC drama The Village, about a Brooklyn apartment block and the people who live in it. The star celebrated his 90th birthday in February 2021.
Aida Turturro – Janice Soprano
Tony’s older, new-agey sister who fled her family’s troubles rather than stay and confront them, she returns to New Jersey and immerses herself in mob life.
Work-shy, manipulative and amoral, she has a love-hate relationship with Tony, born out of their shared childhood trauma.
Aida Turturro (right in 2017) appeared once as Tony’s selfish, manipulative sister Janice (left) in the first series of The Sopranos but was then brought back for a permanent role. She has appeared in Blue Bloods and Law & Order since then, along with many of her former colleagues
Following the series finale in 2007, Turturro has appeared sporadically in film and TV, following many Sopranos alumni into roles in Blue Bloods and Law & Order.
In 2012 she was reunited with Edie Flaco in an episode of Nurse Jackie, while also appearing in ER, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Brooklyn Nine Nine.
Aida debuted a weight loss transformation in 2020 when she appeared much slimmed down in the Blacklist.
Tony Sirico – Paulie Gualtieri
One of Tony’s right-hand men, Paulie is as vicious as he is paranoid, often carrying out hits on his boss’s enemies and disloyal friends alike.
His loyalty to Tony – alongside his killing temperament – see him rise through the ranks to become underboss of the DiMeo crime family.
Sirico was born in Brooklyn and as a teenager he was part of a real-life street gang, and was once seen associating with Colombo family Caporegime Jimmy ‘Green Eyes’ Clemenza, along with fellow Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore.
A real-life gangster who spent parts of his youth in jail, Tony Sirico (right in 2019) agree to play paranoid mobster Paulie Gualtieri (left) on one condition – he never becomes a snitch
A real-life gangster who spent parts of his youth in jail, Tony Sirico (right in 2016) agree to play paranoid mobster Paulie Gualtieri (left) on one condition – he never becomes a snitch
He served time in jail for robbery and felony arms possession before deciding to give acting a try after being visited by a troupe of reformed convicts behind bars.
He initially tried out for the role of Junior was was persuaded into taking on Paulie on one condition – the character would never become a snitch.
Following The Sopranos he has made sporadic appearances in TV and films, including Family Guy, American Dad!, and Lilyhammer.
Steve Van Zandt – Silvio Dante
Silvio is the calm, collected, and ever-stylish owner of the gang’s hangout spot and headquarters – a strip club called the Bada Bing!
Another of Tony’s trusted advisers, he is often selected to carry out high-level assassinations, including on Christopher’s girlfriend, Adriana.
Zandt was famous long before The Sopranos though for a profession other than acting. He was, and still is, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band where he plays guitar and mandolin.
Bandanna-wearing Van Zandt (right in 2019) has since admitted that mobster Silvio’s luscious locks (left) were a hairpiece. He has a successful career as a musician and in 2014 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with Springsteen, he also founded his own band – Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul – in the 1980s.
Zandt continued to pursue acting after Sopranos, starring in and co-writing Netflix series Lilyhammer, which also starred Tony Sirico.
He also appeared in Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles in 2018.
Steve R Schirripa – Bobby Baccalieri
An unusual character within the mob world, Bobby Baccalieri was portrayed as lovable, kind-hearted, loyal to his wife, and caring of others.
A senior member of Junior’s crew, he ends up caring for his former boss when he suffers from cancer, and marries Tony’s sister Janice.
Bobby Baccalieri (left) played by Steve R Schirripa (right in 2019) was the rarest of things – a lovable mobster. He has continued to work in TV since the series, but has also written children’s books and launched his own range of vegan pasta sauce
Schirripa has appeared regularly in both film and TV since his role as Baccalieri ended, including on series Blue Bloods.
He has also diversified away from acting and writes books playing on his mob persona, as well as children’s stories.
Schirripa made a Nickelodeon film from his kid’s book Nicky Deuce and in 2014 launched his own range of vegan pasta sauces.
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