Deborah Lin shares how her late husband, James Gandolfini, would be so “proud” of his son, Michael Gandolfini, playing young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark.
Lin boasted her 22-year-old stepson’s work in the film, which chronicles Tony’s humble and dangerous beginnings before the events of The Sopranos.
“It was almost surreal to see Michael in the trailer,” she said. “I know it took a lot of courage for him to take this role. It was very emotional.”
Added Lin, who married James in 2008, six years after his divorce from Michael’s mom Marcy Wudarski, “But the whole family is just so proud of [Michael]. His father would be very proud.”
The upcoming prequel film is set in Newark, New Jersey in the 1960s, which will feature younger versions of the series’ iconic characters.
Directed by Alan Taylor, The Many Saints of Newark features Ray Liotta, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Michela De Rossi and Vera Farmiga. The Sopranos series creator David Chase co-wrote the screenplay, with Alan Taylor directing.
The original series followed the life of New Jersey mob boss Tony (James) while he also battled personal and professional issues in his home and business. It ran for six seasons before ending in 2007.
Michael was just 14 years old when James died of a heart attack at age 51 during a family vacation in Rome in 2013. But it was that tragic event was that pushed Michael to choose a career in acting. And while he admitted prior to getting the role how he never watched a minute of the show, he was committed to doing the work that went into preparing for the role.
“From the first day, I fell in love with it,” Michael said. “It actually started my grieving process with my dad.”
“It was an intense process,” Michael said of watching the show.
“Because, as an actor, I had to watch this guy who created the role, to look for mannerisms, voice, all those things I would have to echo. But then I’d also be seeing my father. I think what made it so hard was I had to do it alone. I was just sitting alone in my dark apartment, watching my dad all the time. I started having crazy dreams. I had one where I auditioned for David [E. Chase] and I looked down at my hands, and they were my dad’s hands.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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