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Just like his father: Watch Michael Gandolfini play young Tony Soprano in movie prequel

James Gandolfini's son is playing Tony Soprano in the "The Main Saints of Newark," a prequel to the classic HBO series.
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/ Source: Reuters

It's been more than a decade since audiences caught a final glimpse of Tony Soprano munching on onion rings with his family while listening to "Don't Stop Believing" before the screen abruptly cut to black.

The legendary mob boss from "The Sopranos" is back in "The Many Saints of Newark," a prequel to the HBO series that focuses on the early years of Tony and his close relationship with Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Michael Imperioli's Christopher Moltisanti. Tony, or at least his teenage iteration, is front-and-center in a new trailer for "The Many Saints of Newark," which dropped on Tuesday. And he's played by Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, who died in 2013.

The two-minute and change trailer begins with James Gandolfini's narration as his younger self demonstrates Tony's hair-trigger temper by beating up a friend. "When I was a kid, guys like me were brought up to follow codes," the older Tony intones.

There's also a glimpse of a middle-aged Livia Soprano, played by Vera Farmiga, who appears to have channeled the late Nancy Marchand's corrosive brand of parenting. Told that her son has a high IQ by a guidance counselor, Livia snaps back "You can't prove it...he's got a D-plus average." There's that TLC!

This is the intriguing story of Tony Soprano’s early years, explored through his relationship with his mobster uncle, Dickie Moltisanti -- a man who would steer Tony toward the underworld life, despite his best intentions to the contrary.Barry Wetcher / HBO Max

We also get our first extended look of Alessandro Nivola's Dickie, who mentors a young Tony, just as Tony will later do for Christoper (at least until things take a turn for the worse). Here Dickie is seen offering Tony some "hot" speakers, with Tony worried that accepting the stolen gift will hurt his chances of going to college.

"You take the speakers right at the same time, you say to yourself 'This is the last time I'm ever going to steal something,'" counsels Dickie. "It's that simple."

James Gandolfini during "The Sopranos" on August 21, 2006 at St Rita's Church in New York City, Queens. Michael Gandolfini is seen on the movie set of "The Many Saints of Newark" on March 12, 2020 in New York.Getty Images, Bauer-Griffin

Well, long-time watchers of "The Sopranos" know how well Tony would follow that advice over six seasons of criminality. "The Many Saints of Newark" was produced in part by "The Sopranos" creator David Chase and directed by Alan Taylor, who previously oversaw several episodes of the series. The movie is set against a backdrop of the Newark riots, which are dramatized in the trailer, and deals with an emerging crop of gangsters who challenge the DiMeo crime family's control of the Jersey underworld.

The spot features a killer cover of Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody," which has telling lyrics for a show that deftly weaves in avarice and Catholic guilt, such as this gem: "Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody." There's also a brief snippet of "The Sopranos'" unforgettable theme,"Woke Up This Morning" by Alabama 3.

The film opens on Oct. 1 in theaters and on HBO Max, where it will stream for 31 days following its debut in cinemas. That's in line with other recent Warner Bros. films such as "In the Heights" and "Wonder Woman 1984," which deployed a hybrid distribution strategy as a COVID-era concession.

In addition to Nivola, Farmiga and Gandolfini, the cast of "The Many Saints of Newark" includes Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, Michela De Rossi, John Magaro and Ray Liotta.

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