Why the Start of the ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Shoot Has Been So Encouraging

There’s always a danger when filmmakers attempt to reboot a classic TV show or movie. When you’re dealing with a series on the elite level of HBO’s The Sopranos, it’s easy to understand why creator David Chase resisted making a follow-up for so many years.

Once Sopranos star James Gandolfini passed away, it seemed even less likely that Chase would revisit the New Jersey crime saga again. However, he solved that problem by looking to the era right before Tony Soprano ruled Newark.

That’s how the Sopranos prequel, titled The Many Saints of Newark, was born. By the looks of the cast, which includes gangster-film veteran Ray Liotta, Alessandro Nivola, and Michael Gandolfini playing his father’s character, the film has real promise.

But you can never tell until the shoot begins and you see the characters in action. Checking in with the actors in costume and locations of the shoot’s first days, the Sopranos prequel looks like it’s off to a great start.

Michela de Rossi and Michael Gandolfini on location

Michela De Rossi waits on set during Day 1 of ‘Sopranos’ prequel ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ on April 3, 2019 in New York City. | Bobby Bank/GC Images

Until a few weeks before shooting began, we had no news about a female lead for The Many Saints of Newark. That changed with news of 23-year-old Italian actress Michela de Rossi landing a major role.

Seeing de Rossi on set in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, you can tell Chase and his team again have the best in hair and makeup on the job. Revisiting the HBO series today, you always notice what a strength these areas (along with wardrobe) were for the show.

Seeing Michael Gandolfini on set in New Jersey (playing the young Ton Soprano) also offers encouragement.

Michael Gandolfini on set for ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ as a young Tony Soprano on April 11, 2019 in New York City. | Bobby Bank/GC Images

Considering Gandolfini doesn’t have a great deal of acting experience under his belt, all eyes will be on the young actor in a challenging spot. By the looks of him on set, he appears to be playing a late-teen, early-20s Tony.

That would bring the action into the late 1970s. While we know the 1967 Newark riots are a major plot point in the film, this sighting confirms the film spans at least a decade.

Meanwhile, the casting of Nivola looks to be paying dividends already as well.

Nivola looks convincing as the leading man of ‘Many Saints.’

Alessandro Nivola plays Dickie Moltisanti on set Day 1 of the ‘Sopranos’ prequel ‘The Many Saints of Newark on April 3, 2019 in New York City. |Bobby Bank/GC Images

While Alessandro Nivola doesn’t have the name of someone like Liotta, his work in films like American Hustle showed the actor is up for the part of Dickey Moltisanti. That character is the father of Christopher, played so memorably by Michael Imperioli in the HBO show.

On the Bay Ridge set, Nivola sported a dark gray sharkskin suit and appeared locked into the part of Moltisanti. Again, you can see the difference a top-notch wardrobe team makes on a film.

You can also see the strength of the production design with the Brooklyn locations. Watching The Sopranos on HBO, it was easy to forget you weren’t watching a feature film broken up into hour-long segments.

When the film prequel hits theaters in 2020, we’ll get to see the genuine article.

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