More than 10 years after The Sopranos ended its six-season run, the drama remains one of HBO’s most popular series of all time — so much so, in fact, that a prequel movie is now in the works. The project’s working title is The Many Saints of Newark., and it’s been adding some high-profile cast members.
Sopranos creator David Chase teamed up with one of the show’s former writers, Lawrence Konner, to pen the script for The Many Saints of Newark. Together, the two Sopranos vets have written a story that takes place in Newark, New Jersey, during the 1960s, with Game of Thrones and Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor behind the camera.
Like The Sopranos, The Many Saints of Newark will focus on Tony Soprano, the mob patriarch who was played by James Gandolfini in the original series.
In November 2018, Weightless and Disobedience actor Alessandro Nivola was cast in the role of Dickey Moltisanti, Tony’s uncle and mentor. Moltisanti never appeared in the series, as he was killed before the show’s timeline began, but he was referenced repeatedly as one of the primary figures who assisted Tony Soprano’s rise to power.
Moltisanti’s son, Christopher Moltisanti, was played by Michael Imperioli in the original show.
In January, Oscar-nominated actress Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Conjuring) reportedly joined the project, along with The Punisher and The Walking Dead actor Jon Bernthal. The two actors’ roles in The Many Saints of Newark remain a mystery at this point.
“The thing that interested me most was Tony’s boyhood. I was interested in exploring that,” Chase told Deadline during an interview commemorating The Sopranos‘ 20th anniversary.
The Many Saints of Newark will see Tony get swept up in the race riots that plagued Newark in July 1967, which ultimately killed 26 people and injured hundreds of others. “The movie will deal with the tensions between the blacks and whites at the time,” Chase said. “I was just interested in the whole Newark riot thing. I started thinking about those events and organized crime, and I just got interested in mixing those two elements.”
The mob will play a big role in the film, too, although unlike The Sopranos, The Many Saints of Newark takes place during the mafia’s glory days. “The mafia was very polished at that time, how they dressed and what they did,” Chase said. “These weren’t guys who wore tracksuits, back then.”
The initial announcement of the prequel movie wasn’t entirely surprising. Chase told Entertainment Weekly in June 2017 that he didn’t want to remake or revive the series, but revealed he wasn’t opposed to revisiting it in some capacity. Specifically, he said he “could conceive of maybe a prequel of The Sopranos.”
With the project gaining traction, The Sopranos creator is set to produce the film, according to Deadline, in addition to co-writing it.
Early unconfirmed reports indicate that The Many Saints of Newark will feature younger versions of Tony Soprano’s parents, Giovanni (aka Johnny Boy) and Livia, who were played by Joseph Siravo and Nancy Marchand in the HBO series. Additionally, Tony’s uncle Corrado Soprano (aka Junior) may also be back; he was portrayed by Dominic Chianese.
“David is a masterful storyteller and we, along with our colleagues at HBO, are thrilled that he has decided to revisit, and enlarge, the Soprano universe in a feature film,” Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement.
There’s no release date set for the film at this point.
Updated on January 14, 2019: Added Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga casting news.