While it’d be reasonable to think the actors featured in “The Many Saints of Newark” were already familiar with “The Sopranos” when they were cast in the film, that wasn’t actually the case with Michael Gandolfini. As a matter of fact, the young actor hadn’t watched the series prior to auditioning to play Tony Soprano in the upcoming prequel. “I remember asking my dad, maybe at 13, what the h**l is this? Why do I hear about this all the time? What is this about? He’s like, ‘It’s about this mobster who goes to therapy, and I don’t know, that’s about it,'” Gandolfini revealed to The New York Times.
The actor, who was born four months after “The Sopranos” took television by storm in 1999, auditioned for “The Many Saints of Newark” after having lunch with Chase and his wife. Unsatisfied with the other young actors who were trying out for the role of the adolescent Tony Soprano, Chase asked Gandolfini to try out for the part. The young actor immediately found himself in a quandary, though, because prior to that he had apparently only seen pieces of the “Sopranos” pilot.
Left with no choice, Gandolfini watched the entire first season of “The Sopranos” by himself, an experience that he found to be quite emotional. “It was hard to watch my dad alone and then having no one to lean onto,” the actor admitted.