‘His father would be very proud’: James Gandolfini’s widow Deborah Lin says it was ‘surreal’ to see late star’s son Michael playing a young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark
The widow of actor James Gandolfini has said it was ‘surreal’ to see his son Michael appearing as a young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark.
A trailer for the upcoming prequel film to The Sopranos was released earlier this month and showcased Michael Gandolfini, 22, appearing as a younger version of his father’s iconic character.
Deborah Lin, 53, Michael’s step-mother and James’ widow, was speaking to The Post when she said: ‘It was almost surreal to see Michael in the trailer.
‘His father would be very proud’: James Gandolfini’s widow Deborah Lin has revealed it was ‘surreal’ to see his son Michael appearing as a young Tony Soprano in the trailer for The Many Saints of Newark. Pictured: James, Deborah and Michael together in 2011
‘I know it took a lot of courage for him to take this role. It was very emotional. But the whole family is just so proud of him. His father would be very proud.’
Michael, who was 14-years-old when his father died from a heart attack while on holiday in Rome, previously admitted he hadn’t even watched The Sopranos until he came to audition for the role of Tony.
However, after watching the series for research into his upcoming role, Michael told Esquire he started having dreams about his father: ‘I had one where I auditioned for David and I looked down at my hands, and they were my dad’s hands.’
He added: ‘[Tony] yells at A.J., and he gets a pizza to apologize, and he sits by his son’s bed and says, “I couldn’t ask for a better son”,’ Michael said. ‘I just knew he was talking to me in that scene.’
Like father like son: A trailer for the upcoming prequel film to The Sopranos was released recently and showcased Michael Gandolfini, 22, appearing as a younger version of his father’s iconic character
Additionally, Michael told Vanity Fair that he found inspiration from his father’s role while coping with his death and recorded hours of monologues between his father’s character and Dr Melfi which he would listen to while walking around New York.
James’ former co-stars are also confident his son will be able to fill in the shoes he left behind.
Lorraine Bracco said that the entire former cast are behind Michael and want him to succeed – but she also hopes people don’t try to compare him with his father.
Michael wasn’t always destined to work as an actor, having initially earned a place on his high school football team.
Cast photo: L-R Corey Stoll (Junior Soprano), Joey Diaz (still unnamed) Vera Farmiga (Livia Soprano), Jon Bernthal (Johnny Soprano), Lesli Margheriti (Iris Balducci) and Alessandro Nivola (Richard ‘Dickie’ Moltisanti)]
However, after appearing on The Deuce, he said he ‘fell in love’ with acting and found it helped with his grieving process for his father.
The Many Saints of Newark was originally filmed back in 2019, but its release has been delayed until October 1 this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The film is a prequel to the beloved TV series, which acts as an origin story seen through the eyes of Tony Soprano’s uncle Dickie Moltisanti.
The Many Saints of Newark also stars Alessandro Nivola Vera Farmiga, Ray Liotta, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, and John Magaro.
Legacy: Michael, who was 14-years-old when his father died, previously admitted he hadn’t even watched The Sopranos until he came to audition for the role of Tony (pictured in 2007)
Jon Bernthal pays Tony’s dad Johnny Soprano who is referenced in the HBO series but his death predated the timeline of the show
Tony’s parents were originally played by Laila Robins and Joseph Siravo, and featured in flashback scenes. Nancy Marchand played an older version of Livia for the first two seasons. Marchard died from cancer in 2000 before filming on the third season began; the script was reworked to include the death of her character.
Alessandro plays Dickie Moltisanti, a familiar surname to any fan of the iconic HBO show who knows all too well Christopher Moltisanti, played by the incomparable Michael Imperioli.
The story is set during the 1960s Newark Riots, following the violent conflict between the Italian mobsters and African-American gangs.
Filming began on April 3 in Brooklyn, New York, with production shifting to Newark in early May.
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.
One to watch: The Many Saints of Newark was originally filmed back in 2019, but its release has been delayed until October 1 this year due to the coronavirus pandemic
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.
Earlier this year, Michael discussed his initial reservations about taking the part with Vanity Fair, claiming he learned to have ‘unspoken trust’ in creator David Chase’s decision to cast him.
While he first felt he was unsuitable to play Tony, the actor said of the audition: ‘I had this unspoken trust that David wasn’t going to cast me if there was even a shred that this isn’t going to work.’
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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