The Many Saints of Newark: first trailer for Sopranos prequel arrives

Film prequel to the landmark series, starring James Gandolfini’s son Michael as the young mobster, has revealed its first trailer

Fourteen years after the divisively ambiguous series finale, the first look at new Sopranos content has arrived.

The first trailer for The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel film to the series largely considered to be the touchstone of prestige cable television, reveals a young Tony Soprano – played by the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael – developing into the steely mob boss of the future against the backdrop of the 1967 race riots in Newark, New Jersey.

The first look at the New Line Cinema and Warner Bros film, produced in part by series creator David Chase and directed by Alan Taylor, finds young Tony floundering in school (not a surprise to his mother, played by Vera Farmiga) but flourishing under the wing of his beloved uncle, Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola).

The film depicts Young Tony “growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark’s history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters begin to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family’s hold over the increasingly race-torn city”, according to the official synopsis. “Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti, who struggles to manage both his professional and personal responsibilities – and whose influence over his impressionable nephew will help make the teenager into the all-powerful mob boss we’ll later come to know.”

The trailer also evinces a stacked cast, including Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Michela De Rossi and Goodfellas’ star Ray Liotta.

True to Sopranos form, the trailer hints at a range of violence, from guns to punches to what appears to be a saw, as well as racial tensions between black and white gangs in Newark, where the 1967 riot killed 26 people and injured over 700 others over the course of four days as one of 159 race riots during America’s tense “Long Hot Summer of 1967”.

Chase, who told Deadline in February 2019 that he was “against the movie for a very long time, and I’m still very worried about it”, has said he was interested in exploring Tony’s boyhood against the backdrop of racial tension that exploded during his own youth in New Jersey. “I was living in suburban New Jersey at the time that happened, and my girlfriend was working in downtown Newark,” he said. “I was just interested in the whole Newark riot thing. I started thinking about those events and organized crime, and I just got interested in mixing those two elements.”

“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. Those traditions were followed more loosely in the series. These weren’t guys who wore tracksuits, back then.”

Michael Gandolfini, who was 14 when his father died of a heart attack in 2013 while on vacation in Rome, told Vanity Fair earlier this year that the film is “an origin story through the eyes of Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher’s father. The Tony Soprano we know has this beautiful vulnerability underneath and this rough exterior, but what if we flip that on its side and you watch a creative, hopeful, kind, curious kid get whittled down and formed into what he has to be?”

In preparation for stepping into his father’s legendary shoes, the 22-year-old actor, who had never seen an episode of the Sopranos, watched all six seasons in six weeks and listened to hours of his father’s monologues. “I had this unspoken trust that David [Chase] wasn’t going to cast me if there was even a shred that this isn’t going to work,” he told Vanity Fair.

Originally slated for a September 2020 theatrical release, the pandemic-delayed film delayed will drop in US theaters on 1 October and be available to stream on HBO Max for 31 days afterwards. A UK date is to be confirmed.


Adrian Horton

The GuardianTramp

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