In an interview with Esquire, Gandolfini revealed that he had never seen an episode of The Sopranos before creator David Chase called him about taking on the role in new film The Many Saints of Newark.
“The funny thing is, before the audition, I had never watched a minute of The Sopranos,” he said. “The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time.”
He revealed that there were two scenes that were particularly tough to watch, both involving Tony’s children Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and AJ (Robert Iller).
“There’s a scene where Meadow comes home late at night, and he’s sitting with a drink, and he’s like, ‘You know I love you, right?’ That hit hard,” he said. “The other one that crushed me was when he yells at AJ, and he gets a pizza to apologise, and he sits by his son’s bed and says, ‘I couldn’t ask for a better son.’ I just knew he was talking to me in that scene.”
Gandolfini found watching his father while researching the role to be such a unique experience that he started having dreams that wouldn’t be out of place in one of The Sopranos’ more trippy sequences.
“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 David and I looked down at my hands, and they were my dad’s hands.”
The Many Saints of Newark will be released on 5 September 2020. You can find a compilation of everything we know about the prequel here.