James Gandolfini's son stars as Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' prequel trailer

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Watch: The Many Saints Of Newark trailer heralds return of Tony Soprano

Michael Gandolfini, son of the late actor James Gandolfini, steps into his father's shoes to play Tony Soprano in the first trailer for The Many Saints Of Newark.

Fans get a glimpse into what made Tony Soprano a feared mob boss in the first look at the prequel film to HBO's The Sopranos.

The movie serves as a return to the cutthroat world of the hit mob show for the first time since the trailblazing series cut to black in 2007.

It stars Michael Gandolfini as a younger Tony learning his criminal ways in 1960s Newark, New Jersey.

James Gandolfini (l) and Michael Gandolfini (r) in The Sopranos and The Many Saints of Newark (HBO/Warner Bros)
James Gandolfini (left) in The Sopranos and Michael Gandolfini in The Many Saints Of Newark. (HBO/Warner Bros)

The younger Gandolfini recently revealed he had never seen his father's hit show before auditioning for the film, and found watching it tough.

“The funny thing is, before the audition, I had never watched a minute of The Sopranos,” he told Esquire. 

I was just a kid when he was making it. I would go to the set and ask him what it was about, and he’d say, ‘Oh, it’s about this guy who’s in the mob and kind of goes to therapy.’ 

"The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time.”

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15:  Actor James Gandolfini is shown on the set of
James Gandolfini on the set of The Sopranos with son Michael in October 2003. (Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images)

He described the experience of focusing so much on his dad for so long as “intense".

“Because, as an actor, I had to watch this guy who created the role, to look for mannerisms, voice, all those things I would have to echo,” he said. 

“But then I’d also be seeing my father. I think what made it so hard was I had to do it alone. I was just sitting alone in my dark apartment, watching my dad all the time. 

"I started having crazy dreams. I had one where I auditioned for [Sopranos creator] David [Chase] and I looked down at my hands, and they were my dad’s hands.”

Guest, Arthur Nascarella, Frank Giordano, James Gandolfini, Steve Schirripa, John Ventimiglia, Vincent Curatola and Robert Iler **EXCLUSIVE** ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
James Gandolfini and the cast of The Sopranos on a yacht. (Bobby Bank/WireImage)

“When I was a kid, guys like me were brought up to follow codes,” a voiceover from the elder Gandolfini says, as the trailer opens to his son attacking someone outside a payphone.

Read more: HBO boss open to Sopranos prequel series

The young Tony is seen interacting with several characters who either featured in The Sopranos or were key parts of the series’ backstory – including Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti, father of Christopher.

(L-r) Billy Magnussen as Paulie Walnuts, Jon Bernthal as Johnny Soprano, Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano (in back), John Magaro as Silvio Dante, Ray Liotta as “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti in The Many Saints of Newark (Warner Bros)
(L-R) Billy Magnussen as Paulie Walnuts, Jon Bernthal as Johnny Soprano, Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano (in back), John Magaro as Silvio Dante, Ray Liotta as “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti in The Many Saints Of Newark. (Warner Bros)

“Legends aren’t born,” the trailer states. “They’re made.”

Jon Bernthal stars as Giovanni "Johnny Boy" Soprano, Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano, Vera Farmiga as Tony’s mother Livia, Billy Magnussen as Paulie Gualtieri and John Magaro as Silvio Dante.

NEW YORK - MAY 07:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Actor James Gandolfini sits with Michael Gandolfini during his 6th birthday party at Remote Bar on May 7, 2005 in New York City.  (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images)
Actor James Gandolfini sits with Michael Gandolfini during his 6th birthday party at Remote Bar on May 7, 2005 (Brian Ach/Getty Images)

Goodfellas star Ray Liotta will also appear.

The Many Saints Of Newark, co-written by Sopranos creator David Chase, is set during the Newark riots and features rival gangs challenging the rule of the DiMeo crime family over the city.

Michael, 22, was 14 when his father died after suffering a heart attack in Rome in 2013.

387931 01: From left to right: Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante, James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano and Tony Sirico as Paulie Walnuts star in HBO's hit television series,
387931 01: From left to right: Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante, James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano and Tony Sirico as Paulie Walnuts star in HBO's hit television series, "The Sopranos" (Year 3). (Photo by HBO)

The Sopranos premiered in 1999 to instant acclaim and is credited with shifting the TV landscape and opening the door to more prestige productions.

The Many Saints Of Newark is set to be released in the UK on 22 October.

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