In Many Saints of Newark, Michael Gandolfini plays the teenage Tony Soprano. He succeeds his father, who played this emblematic character in the 6 seasons of the cult series.
Before being a crime legend, Tony Soprano studied with his uncle, Dickie Moltisanti. In an explosive context of gang warfare, this intractable godfather opened the doors of the Mafia to his nephew. This is the story told by Many Saint of Newark, prequel to the cult series that revealed to the world an exceptional actor: James Gandolfini.
Died in 2013, the comedian left an invaluable legacy, perpetuated by his son, Michael. The latter managed to convince David Chase, creator of the Sopranos, and Alan Taylor, director of the film, to let him take over the mythical role played by his father.
PLAY TONY SOPRANO
However, the young man did not have it easy. He had to face a heavy audition process. “I felt on another planet when I found out I had the part. I auditioned over a 3 month period so I spent a lot of time with the accent, the physicality and the emotions of the character”, he confided to our microphone.
Getting into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano was not easy. David Chase made it clear that the character was not at all the one we know in the series, so it was not necessary to imitate the game of James Gandolfini but to appropriate the personality of the mafia boss at a specific period of his life. life.
It wasn’t easy for Michael, he had to take a lot of himself to take on the role.
“His performance is excellent. It was not easy for him, he had to take a lot on himself to make the part his own. But for me, I didn’t see him as James Gandolfini’s son, it was just right. the right actor for this specific role “, explains David Chase.
DO NOT IMITATE JAMES GANDOLFINI
Initially, Michael Gandolfini tried too hard to imitate his father. He was playing young Tony in the manner of the older character and it just didn’t fit. Alan Taylor and David Chase therefore urged the comedian to forget about his father’s performance and focus on his own version of Tony, who was not yet a formidable Mafia godfather at that time. Even if he absolutely wanted to satisfy the fans by playing a Tony worthy of the name, Michael had to change course and completely revise his performance.
My instincts prompted me to play the character the same way my father did.
“My instinct was to play the character the same way my father did, so fans would recognize the Tony of the show. But David Chase and Alan Taylor dissuaded me from going in that direction. They told me. to go back, explained to me that the character was not yet the Tony we all know. “You can’t yell at someone like you’re 30,” they explained to me. . I put too much pressure on myself to give the fans what they wanted. But I had to do a lot of work to go back and come up with my own Tony. “, said Michael Gandolfini.
AN ICONIC CHARACTER
Indeed, the actor must have had a lot of pressure on the shoulders to slip into the costume of such an iconic character. In addition, Tony Soprano is inseparable from his father’s performance and the mistake would have been to imitate him. Chase and Taylor were therefore right to push the young man to forget the heritage of his father in order to achieve the character of the most authentic possible.
For Michael, growing up alongside the one who played Tony hasn’t really been of much help in getting into character. “I wouldn’t say growing up with him helped me get a better handle on Tony. Obviously the show has helped me tremendously. It has allowed me to know his manners, his postures, put his gaze and hold my head. in a specific way. But also my body language, and the accent “, explains the young actor.
“But what helped me the most was that I had roughly 86 hours of shrink sessions with the character I was going to play. I really managed to understand all aspects of that character but also how Tony thinks and what makes him react. However, this role didn’t really teach me anything about my dad and my dad didn’t teach me anything about Tony. Because my dad wasn’t Tony. are different people “, he concludes.