It’s not exaggerating to say that HBO’s The Sopranos is one of the most influential television series of this generation. Focusing on the family and la familia of Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (the late James Gandolfini), it’s a show that sprung from the imagination of writer/producer David Chase (who got his start on Bill Bixby’s The Magician and the Darren McGavin horror series Kolchak: The Night Stalker), and it’s understandable why he was reluctant to revisit this material following the show’s end in 2007. Until now.
The movie prequel to The Sopranos starts shooting in March in the form of The Many Saints of Newark. Directing is Alan Taylor (who handled nine episodes of the series as well as the feature films Thor: The Dark World and Terminator: Genisys), with a script by Chase and frequent series collaborator Lawrence Konner. As far as casting is concerned, so far we only know that Alessandro Nivola will be playing Dickie Moltisanti, who is the father of Michael Imperioli’s Christopher.
The setting will be during the race riots in Newark that took place in the 1960s. In an interview with Deadline, Chase explained, “I was interested in Newark and life in Newark at that time. I used to go down there every Saturday night for dinner with my grandparents. But the thing that interests me most was Tony’s boyhood. I was interested in exploring that.”
That exploration will take place against the backdrop of rising tensions between whites and blacks during that period, which the young Tony Soprano will be a part of. Chase admits that he was against the idea of a movie and is actually still uncomfortable with doing this prequel, but the combination of exploring Newark at the time coupled with that era’s organized crime proved irresistible to him. As was the idea of taking a look at the Mafia of that time.
“It is going to depict when it was good,” he revealed. “The mafia was very polished [then]; 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.”
No word yet on a release date.