Even though James Gandolfini may be gone, his son, Michael, is doing his best to keep his memory alive — even playing a younger version of his most memorable character, Tony Soprano in an upcoming movie.

The 19-year-old will be starring as young Tony in The Many Saints of Newark, a film prequel to the iconic HBO series The Sopranos. However, Michael recently revealed that his late dad didn’t exactly want him to go down the acting route like he did. “It was a difficult decision,” Michael told Esquire of taking on the role, adding that he enjoyed performing as a child, as he would act out scenes from the musical Wicked.

Michael Gandolfini
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“I dressed up as the Scarecrow almost every night, and my dad would videotape me singing,” Michael recalled. “As I got older, he wanted me to play sports. I felt that burden. I wanted to make him proud. And he said, ‘Don’t be an actor; be a director. They have the power.'”

However, Michael eventually took on acting, and it had quite the impact on him, especially after his father passed away from a heart attack in 2013. “From the first day, I fell in love with it,” he said. “It actually started my grieving process with my dad.”

Even though The Sopranos is arguably one of the greatest shows ever, Michael wasn’t too familiar with it. “The funny thing is, before the audition, I had never watched a minute of The Sopranos. I was just a kid when he was making it,” he told the outlet. “I would go to the set and ask him what it was about, and he’d say, ‘Oh, it’s about this guy who’s in the mob and kind of goes to therapy.’ The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time.”

Michael Gandolfini

“It was an intense process. Because, as an actor, I had to watch this guy who created the role, to look for mannerisms, voice, all those things I would have to echo,” he continued. “But then I’d also be seeing my father. I think what made it so hard was I had to do it alone. I was just sitting alone in my dark apartment, watching my dad all the time.”

Michael added that watching The Sorpranos had a lasting effect on him. “There’s a scene where Meadow comes home late at night, and he’s sitting with a drink, and he’s like, ‘You know I love you, right?’ That hit hard,” he revealed. “The other one that crushed me was when he 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.’ I just knew he was talking to me in that scene.”

Michael Gandolfini James Gandolfini
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The Many Saints of Newark will be released on Sept. 25, 2020. We can’t wait to see Michael’s incredible performance!