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Corey Stoll Prepared for ‘West Side Story’ by Watching 1961 Original and Then Forgetting All About It

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter
 2021-10-15
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[This story contains a spoiler for The Many Saints of Newark .]

Corey Stoll knows that fans of The Sopranos can be hardcore, so he was somewhat expecting those displeased over the twist in The Many Saints of Newark to approach him on the street with a bone to pick. But, so far, so good.

The Hollywood Reporter recently caught up with the TV and film actor to discuss a variety of topics, including the reaction to the David Chase prequel film, in which he played Corrado “Junior” Soprano, what it is like to be on a Netflix show that’s all the rage — South Korea’s Squid Game now, his series House of Cards then — and his experience working with Steven Spielberg in the role of Lt. Schrank in the upcoming West Side Story .

Any thoughts on the day and date release of The Many Saints of Newark and the film’s box office struggle?

I think these last few years have taught me a lesson I have known for a while which is I don’t know anything. I did my job and there’s so much going on beyond my control that I am not going to stick my nose in there.

What has the reaction been like from Sopranos fans over that Junior twist?

It’s been great. I was sort of expecting people on the street to be shouting at me, but there hasn’t been any of that. But I have gotten great feedback from friends, family and strangers alike. And being able to see it in a theater with an audience — I was shocked at the gasp that erupted from the crowd when that happened. The sequence of how that story was told changed a lot in the writing and editing and reshoots. There was a whole sequence that we filmed showing him ordering the hit, but it works better as a surprise. Junior’s involvement was planned the whole time, but it went through different iterations of motivations.

Squid Game is all the rage for the moment. What was it like being on House of Cards when that was the must-see Netflix show?

When we shot it, we didn’t know how it was going to be released. They didn’t even start promoting it until it was already on Netflix, which I thought was a bold move. They were like, “Why start promoting it if people can’t partake?” But to the reaction, I was shocked! I remember getting emails and seeing Facebook posts, people talking about things that happened in episode 10 less than 24 hours when it was available. People really dug in and quickly. Binge-watching had been a part of DVDs, but binging something that had never been out there before and the fever that can overtake people — that was amazing.

You played Buzz Aldrin in First Man . Any interest in taking a ride on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin commercial flight?

I’d want to really wait until it is routine. When there are statistics that show it’s safe, I would be interested. I am a huge space nerd. When I went to Houston to prepare for First Man , it was like I hit the lottery.

How is a Marvel Cinematic Universe production different from a Steven Spielberg production?

The MCU is a much more collaborative thing, as in there are a lot of people, those who are on set with you and those unseen. It’s a few people trying to make a moment work and then millions of people in post making it look really cool. Whereas when you have Spielberg, all the authority is right there. So it is much more a 1:1 experience.

How did you approach Lt. Schrank for Spielberg’s West Side Story ? Any element of the late, great Simon Oakland in there?

It’s a different role. I watched the 1961 film once before we started working and then I tried to throw it away. Tony Kushner who wrote this film is coming at it from a slightly different angle. It is a different task.

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