Michael Gandolfini is keeping it in the family.
The 22-year-old actor is stepping into his late father James Gandolfini’s shoes to play a young Tony Soprano in the upcoming prequel film “The Many Saints of Newark”.
In an interview with Empire, the actor talked about the difficulty of taking on the iconic role, admitting it was “probably the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.”
Gandolfini explained, “You know, I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to walk out of this feeling like I’d grown in terms of my feelings towards my dad. I just wanted to be the best actor I could be, portraying Tony in the way David wanted, scene by scene. I didn’t think about my grief because… well, I would have s**t the bed.”
The actor also talked about his depiction of Tony Soprano differs from what his dad did on “The Sopranos”.
“My dad’s character had all this beautiful sensitivity underneath this aggression,” Gandolfini explained. “This version of him is the reverse. His curiosity and sensitivity comes first. He’s not a gun-wielding gangster. He’s a kid who gets whittled down and pulled in.”
The film’s director Alan Taylor also shared a story of how touching it was to have Michael take on the role originated by his father.
“We all had dinner one night,” Taylor said. “At one point, [Michael] stood up and said, ‘I want to thank everyone for doing this because it was a chance to say hello to my father… and goodbye again.’ There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
“The Many Saints of Newark” hits theatres Oct. 1.