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Sopranos prequel film casts James Gandolfini's son as young Tony

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

In a casting decision that perfectly embodies the phrase "like father, like son," The Sopranos creator David Chase has tapped Michael Gandolfini to portray young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel movie to the multi-Emmy-Award-winning crime drama series. 

Gandolfini is, if you couldn't tell by the last name alone, the son of James Gandolfini, who originated Tony on The Sopranos.

This news comes to us courtesy of Deadline

"It's a profound honor to continue my dad's legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano," said Gandolfini in a statement provided to the outlet. "I'm thrilled that I'm 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."

For The Many Saints of Newark, Gandolfini joins Jon Bernthal (Marvel's The Punisher) and Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring franchise), who were recently cast in undisclosed roles. He will also share the screen with Billy Magnussen, Corey Stoll, and Allesandro Nivola (You Were Never Really Here), who is set to portray Richard "Dickie" Moltisanti, the father of recurring Sopranos character Christopher Moltisanti. Nivola is said to lead The Many Saints of Newark, which will, according to Chase, explore Tony Soprano's childhood growing up in late-1960s Newark, New Jersey. 

"The movie will deal with the tensions between the blacks and whites at the time, and Tony Soprano will be part of this, but as a kid," Chase told Deadline in a past discussion. "I became interested in Newark, where my parents came from, and where the riots took place. I was living in suburban New Jersey at the time that happened, and my girlfriend was working in downtown Newark. 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 film] is going to depict when it was good. The mafia was very polished at that time, how they dressed and what they did. Those traditions were followed more loosely in the series. These weren't guys who wore tracksuits, back then."

According to sources with inside knowledge of the casting process, the Many Saints of Newark team "engaged in an extensive audition process to find the young Tony" before ultimately settling on Gandolfini for the part. The 19-year-old actor, who has appeared as Joey Dwyer on several episodes of The Deuce and held a small role in last year's Ocean's 8, demonstrated a magnetic screen presence and a "mastery of Tony's mannerisms." That, when compounded with his uncanny resemblance to his father, "made him the standout choice for the role because no one there understood the character better," sources stated.

Gandolfini portraying young Tony in The Many Saints of Newark is doubly momentous because his father sadly died in 2013 at the age of 51. Though the elder Gandolfini is no longer with us, it's warming to know that his son hopes to keep his legacy alive. And what better way to do that than by embodying the role that earned him countless accolades and a pack of adoring fans around the world?