The Sopranos changed TV. But it did because it ran on a place that proclaimed it wasn’t TV, HBO. It premiered in 1999, ran six seasons and won 21 Emmys. The series about the glorified Jersey crew also starred Edie Falco as Tony’s wife Carmela, Steven Van Zandt as his consigliere, Jamie‑Lynn Sigler, Dominic Chianese, Steve Schirripa, Bracco, Imperioli, and Sirico. Martin Scorsese’s go-to guy, the late Frank Vincent, wound up as the don of a New York family.
Newark (originally known as The Many Saints of Newark) will come out via New Line. “David is a masterful storyteller and we, along with our colleagues at HBO, are thrilled that he has decided to revisit, and enlarge, the Soprano universe in a feature film,” New Line Chairman Toby Emmerich said in a statement when the project was first announced.
“I’ve said it from the beginning: if I had a really good idea and I thought it could be really entertaining and it wouldn’t upset what was done I might do it,” Chase told Deadline in 2016. “I could conceive of maybe a prequel of The Sopranos,” he told Entertainment Weekly last year.
The screenplay for The Many Saints of Newark was written by Chase and Lawrence Konner, who also wrote for the show and for Boardwalk Empire. Since The Sopranos ended, Chase, who was a rock musician when he was young, wrote and directed the 2012 music drama Not Fade Away.
The Sopranos Prequel Film Release Date
According Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter, The Many Saints of Newark is now going by simply Newark…and it also has a release date. David Chase’s Sopranos prequel will premiere on September 25, 2020.
The Sopranos Prequel Film Cast
Leslie Odom Jr. is the latest addition to the cast of The Many Saints of Newark for what’s sounding like a major role, reports Deadline. While the name and specific details of said role were not provided, it appears that Odom Jr.’s character will be a prominent part of the 1960s-set conflict between the titular city’s African-Americans and Italian-Americans.
Odom Jr. broke big on the Broadway stage playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton, a role for which he won a Tony and a Grammy. He recently fielded a TV run on CBS All Access’s One Dollar and appeared in last year’s star-stacked film, Murder on the Orient Express, coming off TV runs on Law & Order: SVU, Person of Interest, Smash, and played a crossroads demon on Supernatural. He may also be remembered from a film role in the George Lucas-produced 2012 Tuskegee Airmen movie, Red Tails.
He joins the following cast…
James Gandolfini’s son Michael Gandolfini will play young Tony Soprano. Michael, who resembles his father, recently played the role of Joey Dwyer on HBO’s The Deuce. “It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Gandolfini told Deadline. “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.”
Ray Liotta, who played Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster classic Goodfellas, will be playing an as-yet-unnamed character. Liotta isn’t only the centerpiece character in Goodfellas, he was born in Newark. Liotta is in talks to join Newark. Omerta has been declared on what role he might play.
“I am thrilled to be working with David Chase and Alan Taylor on The Many Saints of Newark,” Liotta said in a statement. “David’s talent is unmatched and the directing of Alan Taylor makes this even more exciting. I respect them both immensely and look forward to making this special project with New Line.”
Liotta isn’t the first alumni of the Martin Scorsese gangster classic to join the family. Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Frank Vincent, Joseph R. Gannascoli, Vincent Pastore and Tony Sirico all starred on HBO’s innovative and influential gangster family series The Sopranos.
Alessandro Nivola, who made his bones in the independent features Weightless, The Neon Demon, American Hustle, and A Most Violent Year, will star as Dickie Moltisanti , the father of Christopher Moltisanti, played by Michael Imperioli in the series.
Jon Bernthal will mete out punishment in a mystery role, according to Variety. Bernthal was always right as Shane Walsh on the first few seasons of The Walking Dead. He kept his mouth shut as Brad in Martin Scorsese‘s Wolf of Wall Street, and carjacked laughs in Edgar Wright‘s Baby Driver. He played Frank Castle, the Punisher, on Daredevil Season 2, and starred as the superhero on Netflix’s The Punisher, starting with its second season.
Vera Farmiga, who is nominated for an Oscar for her role in Up in the Air and starred on A&E’s Psycho prequel, Bates Motel has also been cast, Variety reports. She also plays Lorraine Warren in the Conjuring movies.
Corey Stoll and Billy Magnussen were also added to the cast, according to Variety. Stoll played Buzz Aldrin in the space race film First Man. He will next be seen in Ratched, Netflix’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-inspired series. Magnussen was seen in Netflix’s Velvet Buzzsaw and the upcoming Aladdin movie from Disney.
John Magaro, who starred in Chase’s 2012 feature directorial debut, the semi-autobiographical rock and roll movie Not Fade Away, was cast in an as-yet-undisclosed role, according to Deadline. Magaro most recently played Leonard in Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy.
The Sopranos Prequel Film Director
Alan Taylor, who directed several episodes of the series’ original run on HBO, will direct the prequel, according to Variety. Taylor directed nine episodes of The Sopranos. He won the 2007 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for “Kennedy and Heidi” episode. He last directed the 2015 film Terminator: Genisys, as well as episodes of Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire.
The Sopranos Prequel Film Back Story
The script is set during the era of the 1960s riots in Newark, N.J., which means the story would focus on Tony Soprano’s uncle Junior, who was played by Dominic Chianese on the series, Tony’s father, Giovannia “Johnny Boy,” and his wife Livia, who was played by the late Nancy Marchand. Long before the mob was torn apart by cunnilingus and psychiatry, it faced off against racial divisions. While Frank Sinatra was personally pushing for Civil Rights inclusion, the gangsters in his home state of New Jersey fought turf wars with African American rivals. Garden State native David Chase will take on the era in Newark, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The 1967 Newark riots lasted for four days and left 26 people dead. It was sparked by an act of police brutality against a black taxi driver.
“The movie will deal with the tensions between the blacks and whites at the time, and Tony Soprano will be part of this, but as a kid,” Chase told Deadline. Tony would have been about eight at the time of the riots. He, his sister Janice, his father and uncle Junior were at Rideland during the Newark riots, according to an episode on the series. Johnny Boy was already fairly well known both in criminal circles and to the cops. The people on the street recognized Tony’s father, saying “hey, that’s Johnny Boy Soprano,” a local antihero. He didn’t know his son was with him that day because Tony hid in the trunk of his Caddy while the old man drove Janice out.
The timeline means the story will focus on Tony Soprano’s uncle Junior, who was played by Dominic Chianese on the series, Tony’s father, Giovannia “Johnny Boy,” played by Joseph Siravo, and Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli), who will be played by Alessandro Nivola in the film, according to Variety. “It is going to depict when it was good,” Chase told Deadline. “The mafia was very polished at that time, how they dressed and what they did,” he said. “Those traditions were followed more loosely in the series. These weren’t guys who wore tracksuits, back then.”
Tony considered Dickie Moltisanti “a friend, a guy you could look up to, that you could count on. And the hope is that you can pass that shit on, the love.” Dickie started the family with Tony’s father and his uncle Junior when New York treated them like a crew. He had balls, Tony remembered. And all they had was the memories, because Dickey got iced by a cop named Detective Lt. Barry Haydu in the 1970s. Though no details have been released about the plot or characters, Dickey Moltisanti is reportedly being described as a made man who falls in love with a young immigrant, just in from Italy. She came in to marry Dickie’s father. Tony Soprano will be a teenager during the period and Moltisanti will be his mentor while the kid’s father does some time, for some things.
Of course, Tony’s memory is gilded because he looked up to Dickie. “Let’s be honest about the great Dickie Moltisanti, my father, your hero,” Christopher Moltisanti reminded the head of the Jersey mob. “He wasn’t much more than a fucking junkie.”
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.