Michael Gandolfini is reflecting on the difficulty of his new role in “The Sopranos” prequel film “The Many Saints of Newark.”
“Maybe I could know how to play my dad,” the 22-year-old actor said. “But I don’t know how to play Tony. I have to create my own Tony from my life and still play the things that made him Tony.”
Michael elaborated on the difficulty of taking on such an iconic role.
“The pressure is real…There’s fear. But the second layer, that a lot of people don’t think about, which was actually harder, is to play Tony Soprano…not only was it the feeling of my dad — it was like, Tony Soprano is a [expletive] hard character.”
He continued, “The only insight that I think I gained was deep pride in him. I’m exhausted after three months — you did that for nine years?”
The film is an origin story of the “Sopranos” patriarch as he grew up in a tumultuous era in Newark, N.J., history. Throughout the film, fans will see the young star getting pulled into the mafia life as he rises up and challenges the then-dominant DiMeo crime family.
"I just wanted to be the best actor I could be, portraying Tony in the way [series creator] David [Chase] wanted, scene by scene,” he told the magazine.
"My dad’s character had all this beautiful sensitivity underneath this aggression," explained Michael, adding, "This version of him is the reverse."
Gandolfini also revealed that he hadn’t watched the HBO drama until he was cast to fill his father's shoes.
The actor, who played Joey Dwyer on “The Deuce,” admitted that he didn’t think about his grief at all because he knew it would negatively impact his performance.