James  Gandolfini in the role that catapulted him to stardom — mob boss Tony Soprano.
James Gandolfini in the role that catapulted him to stardom — mob boss Tony Soprano. Supplied

Shock Sopranos casting choice

It's a clever piece of casting that will have fans of the cult series The Sopranos on the edge of their seat.

Michael Gandolfini, the son of the show's late star James Gandolfini, will play mob boss Tony Soprano - the role that made his father a superstar - in the much-anticipated prequel film.

The 19-year-old was chosen to to play the young Tony in creator David Chases's prequel film The Many Saints of Newark after an extensive casting process. Michael Gandolfini bears an uncanny resemblance to his late father James, who died in 2013 from a heart attack at the age of 51.

Insiders said that his screen presence and mastery of Tony's mannerisms made him the standout choice for the role.

Michael Gandolfini, on right, with Robert Iler at The Sopranos 20th anniversary party in New York earlier this month. Iler played AJ Soprano, the son of Tony, in the long-running series.
Michael Gandolfini, on right, with Robert Iler at The Sopranos 20th anniversary party in New York earlier this month. Iler played AJ Soprano, the son of Tony, in the long-running series.

"It's a profound honour to continue my dad's legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano," Gandolfini said in a statement.

"I'm thrilled that I am going to have the opportunity to work with David Chase and the incredible company of talent he has assembled for The Many Saints of Newark."

Actor James Gandolfini made the character of Tony Sopranao a TV legend.
Actor James Gandolfini made the character of Tony Sopranao a TV legend.

Gandolfini, the son of Gandofino and his first wife Marcy Wudarski, joins a cast that includes Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Cory Stoll, Billy Magnussen and Alessandro Nivola.

The prequel to the HBO series is set amid the 1967 Newark riots and will place the spotlight on Dickie Moltisanti, played by Nivola.

The character of Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Christopher Moltisanti, was a mentor of Tony and was frequently mentioned in dialogue on the show.

The casting announcement comes at a time of nostalgic revival for the series - - which famously ended on a cliffhanger - amid the 20th anniversary of its January 1999 debut.

James Gandolfini sadly died in June 2013 while on holiday in Rome. Tragically, his son found him dead in his hotel room.

The respected actor died in 2013 while on holiday in Rome.
The respected actor died in 2013 while on holiday in Rome.

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