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Michael Gandolfini Had to Pull Back an Overzealous Tony Soprano Performance

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter
 2021-09-13
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Michael Gandolfini felt a lot of pressure to play a version of the ruthless mafia boss his late father turned into a television legend on The Sopranos .

In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning , the 22-year-old actor opened up about his youth Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark . The prequel film sets in motion the characters and events leading to the groundbreaking HBO series.

The beloved James Gandolfini won several awards for playing Tony, a character considered by many to be among the greatest in the history of TV. His son Michael told Jim Axelrod that he was well aware of the enormous undertaking from the start.

“If anything, my instinct was to give in scenes more of the Tony [the fans] had known, and it was [director] Allen [Taylor] and [ Sopranos creator] David [Chase] who would come in and be like, ‘Pull it back. He’s not that yet. You can’t yell at the principal like you’re 30,'” Gandolfini said. “So that is a way I felt the pressure, and I wanted to give [the fans] the Tony they had all seen. But I had to remember to pull back, too.”

For the most part, the younger Gandolfini said he enjoyed watching and then studying the HBO series, but, some moments could be rough for him.

“It wasn’t my dad. It wasn’t the dad who I knew,” Gandolfini said. “So in many ways, it was fun to watch him explore this complete character. But, there are scenes that are very tough; anything with his kids is tough and when he gets shot in the fifth season, the hospital stuff is tough.”

The Many Saints of Newark will arrive in theaters and HBO Max on Oct. 1.

Watch the full Michael Gandolfini interview below.

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