The ‘Sopranos’ Prequel May Have Just Found Its First Star

Was The Sopranos the greatest series in television history? If not, it has to be up there. Over the course of six seasons of 86 episodes, fans rarely (if ever) got a bad show. More often than not, The Sopranos delivered humor, action, and something to think about every time the credits rolled.

Put another way: After such an incredible run, the only way the show’s reptuation can go is down. That’s what the producers behind the Sopranos prequel Many Saints of Newark risk with the upcoming feature film. Fortunately for fans, things seem to be getting off to a good start.

Alessandro Nivola expected among the stars

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Alessandro Nivola attends a screening of "To Dust" during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theatre on April 22, 2018 in New York City.
Alessandro Nivola | Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

According to Variety, Alessandro Nivola has been in negotiations with New Line to star as Dickey Moltisanti in the film. The character was spoken of during the HBO series but never seen because he died when Christopher Moltisanti (his son, played by Michael Imperioli) was a young boy.

Nivola, who appeared previously in American Hustle and Disobedience, may have his most high-profile role to date with this film. Judging by the title — “many saints” is English for Moltisanti — his role would be central to the story, which takes place during the late 1960s. Reports from various outlets indicate Newark’s race riots of 1967 will factor heavily in the plot.

As viewers may recall, the elder Moltisanti lived a violent life and died just as violently. Prison stints, gang warfare, and a stint in Vietnam were mentioned in conversations between Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and other characters.

In other words, Nivola has a character he can sink his teeth into here. But he will also have key members of the original series there to guide him as well.

Key members of original Sopranos team behind the production

Exploring The Life Of A Modern-Day Mob Boss, The Exclusive New Series The Sopranos Combines Drama And Comic Irony, Debuting Hour-Long Episodes Sundays (9:00-10:00 P.M. Et) On Hbo. Pictured: Tony Sirico, Steve Van Zandt, James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli And Vincent Pastore.
Tony Sirico, Steve Van Zandt, James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli And Vincent Pastore in a promotional photo for Season 1 of ‘The Sopranos.’ | Getty Images

According to TheWrap, director Alan Taylor already signed on to the Many Saints project. Taylor directed episodes in four of six Sopranos seasons and landed an Emmy for his work during the final season. Lawrence Konner, who also worked on the original show, will be working on the project as a writer.

Most importantly, creator and showrunner David Chase will be back as producer. (New Line bought Chase’s script to launch the deal for the current film.) Naturally, Chase already had a handle on many of the characters through his extensive use of flashbacks in the HBO show. Younger versions of Johnny Boy Soprano (Tony’s father), Livia, and Uncle Junior are sure to turn up in the prequel.

A young version of Tony should also make an appearance. For fans who wonder whether Dickey Soprano really was killed by a crooked cop (later avenged by Christopher), we may get our answer in this movie.

Hopefully, we’ll also get another look at the excellent production design The Sopranos team pulled off in flashbacks. There will be waiting, however. Considering the film does not have its cast set yet, we’d expect to see the film sometime in 2020.

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