David Chase sheds insight on The Sopranos prequel film
As The Sopranos prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, moves forward, series creator David Chase has started sharing some of his creative motivations for exploring this very specific time in the history of Newark, New Jersey. Speaking with Deadline about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the long-running mob drama’s HBO premiere, Chase said he wanted to zero in on a period of time that the series only hinted at a few times during its six-season run.
“The thing that interested me most was Tony’s boyhood. I was interested in exploring that,” said Chase, who’s producing the prequel film. While the series regularly featured the occasional flashback sequence, the modern-day story often fixated on the idealized fondness Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) had for the days when his father was a mafioso. But Chase clarified that this won’t be the same rose-colored Newark from Tony’s memory. “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.”
The idea of Chase even doing a movie set in the world of The Sopranos came as a surprise, as he felt the show’s legacy stood on its own. But he began to rethink the idea in recent years when reminiscing about his own childhood experiences in the city of Newark.
“I was against [a movie] for a long time and I’m still very worried about it, but 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.”
Still, Chase said that there will be some feeling that these were ‘the good old days,’ at least as far as the mafia’s concerned. This could possibly give some deeper insight into Tony’s starry-eyed recollections that he so often shared with his therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco).
“It 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.”
The Many Saints of Newark is currently in the casting process atWarner Bros’ New Line Cinema. Veteran Sopranos director Alan Taylor will be helming the project, based on a script from Chase and Boardwalk Empire scribe Lawrence Konner.