With The Sopranos celebrating the 20th anniversary of its debut this month, thoughts are turning towards The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel movie that creator David Chase announced last year. Now, Chase is sharing details about what might take place in the film.
According to a Deadline interview with Chase, the film will indeed include a young Tony Soprano as a character.
“I was interested in Newark and life in Newark at that time,” Chase said in the interview. “I used to go to down there every Saturday night for dinner with my grandparents. But the thing that interested me most was Tony’s boyhood. I was interested in exploring that.”
Chase was speaking to Deadline for an oral history that will published later this week.
As has been reported before, the film will be set in 1967, and will focus on both the mafia — which was ascendant at the time — and racial tensions between Italian-Americans and African-Americans in the city. Race riots took place in the Newark area in 1967, per the New York Times.
The main character will be Dickie Moltisanti — the father of Sopranos character Christopher Moltisanti — and he’ll be played by actor Alessandro Nivola.
While a continuing theme of the series was that the mob was in decline by the late ’90s and early 2000s, the movie will show organized crime during their heyday. The late 1960s time period was occasionally glimpsed in flashbacks on the show, going back to Tony Soprano’s childhood in Newark’s Down Neck area.
Alan Taylor, who directed many episodes of The Sopranos, will direct the film — while Chase will write it. Casting is in progress, with an eye being cast towards production this year, Deadline said.
The film will represent Chase’s first new project of any kind since the 2012 film Not Fade Away, which itself was his only project since The Sopranos went off the air in 2007.
There are numerous celebrations this month for the 20th anniversary of The Sopranos. The first-ever Sopranos Film Festival is taking place at the IFC Center in New York, and will feature screenings of episodes in the series, showings for films that inspired it — and appearances by Chase, former writers, and cast members.
This week also sees the publication of The Sopranos Sessions, a lengthy history and analysis of the series. The book is written by film critics Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall, who covered the series for the Newark Star Ledger and went on to popularize episode-by-episode television criticism.