The much-awaited The Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, features many Easter eggs and references to the critically-acclaimed HBO series. From 1999 to 2007, The Sopranos, which ran for a total of 86 episodes across 6 seasons, was a pop-culture touchstone that is often credited with launching the prestige TV movement. More than a decade later, the follow-up The Many Saints of Newark continues to expand the fictional universe, taking audiences back to Tony Soprano’s origins — and introducing several pivotal role models from his youth.
The Sopranos is set in the ‘90s and 2000s and focuses on New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) — a middle-aged family man struggling to maintain his marriage, mental health, and criminal empire. Meanwhile, The Many Saints of Newark is set in the late ‘60s to the ‘70s. Although the prequel film touches on the formative years of young Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) and his relationships with members of his immediate family, it actually focuses on Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), the man whom young Tony looks up to as a mentor and father figure.
The Many Saints of Newark is a standalone film that uses the 1967 Newark race riots as its backdrop in telling the story of Dickie’s rise and fall. That being said, the film is undoubtedly made for long-time fans of The Sopranos. Here are the many Sopranos Easter eggs and references that can be found throughout The Many Saints of Newark.
Click here to watch The Many Saints Of Newark: Everything You Missed at YouTube.
Returning Sopranos Characters In The Many Saints of Newark
Most of the main cast of The Many Saints of Newark are younger versions of characters from The Sopranos, and are themselves Easter eggs that reference the show. While young Tony Soprano nails the role, not only in terms of appearance but also middle-aged Tony’s mannerisms and personality, his father Giovanni “Johnny Boy” Soprano (Jon Bernthal aka The Punisher) reveals many of the qualities that Tony would later exhibit as the boss of New Jersey. Meanwhile, Tony’s mom Livia Soprano (Vera Farmiga), apart from having a stark resemblance to Tony’s wife Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) in the series, serves as a harrowing throwback to actor Nancy Marchand’s dominating portrayal of the erratic and hot-headed family matriarch from The Sopranos. Younger Junior Soprano (Corey Stoll) is also a convincing portrayal of the curmudgeonly Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese), and his relationship with his brother Johnny Boy and the other DiMeo capos in The Many Saints of Newark reveals the roots of the character’s bitterness in The Sopranos. Moreover, Tony’s sister Janice Soprano (Alexandra Intrator), Tony’s close friend and future DiMeo crime family acting boss Giacomo “Jackie” Aprile (Chase Vacnin), Tony’s future wife Carmela De Angelis (Lauren DiMario), and Tony’s childhood best friend Artie Bucco (Robert Vincent Montano) all appear in The Many Saints of Newark as returning Sopranos characters as well.
Tony’s old Sopranos crew members are also in the prequel movie. This includes Dickie’s son and Tony’s future headache Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli), who appears briefly as a baby and whose original actor serves as the film’s narrator. There’s also Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri (Billy Magnussen), whose presence confirms older Paulie’s (Tony Sirico) claims that he was indeed a dashing young charmer. Although “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero (Samson Moeakiola) has very few speaking lines in The Many Saints of Newark, his presence helps establish older Pussy’s (Vincent Pastore) backstory as a former cat burglar and DiMeo crime family associate. Meanwhile, future Soprano family consiglieri Silvio Dante (John Magaro), who is shown balding in the first half of the film, is later shown wearing the hairpiece famously sported by older Silvio (Steven Van Zandt), and also very convincingly portrays the original character’s exaggerated mannerisms and impeccable style.
The Death Of Tony Soprano’s Uncle Dickie Moltisanti
The Many Saints of Newark culminates in the assassination of Dickie Moltisanti, which is the biggest Sopranos Easter egg in the entire prequel film. Contrary to what Tony told Christopher in the first episode of season 4 of The Sopranos, the hit on Dickie wasn’t ordered by just some criminal with a bone to pick. In fact, The Many Saints of Newark reveals that Dickie Moltisanti was killed under Junior Soprano’s orders. Junior has always been jealous of how his older brother Johnny Boy and the other gangsters looked up to Dickie. However, what sealed Dickie’s fate was when he laughed at Junior slipping in the rain and breaking his back during Dickie’s father’s funeral.
Satriale’s Pork Store From The Sopranos
Satriale’s pork store is a regular hangout for members of the DiMeo crime family in The Sopranos, with Tony and his main crew often shown sitting outside. In The Sopranos season 3, episode 3, a young Tony witnesses Johnny Boy and Junior cutting off the finger of Mr. Satriale, who owns the pork store, because of a gambling debt, in a memorable flashback sequence. The DiMeo crew are shown counting money in the store’s backroom in The Many Saints of Newark.
Holsten’s Ice Cream Shop From The Sopranos Finale
Holsten’s ice cream shop has a single appearance in the entire series — as the setting for The Sopranos’ cut-to-black series finale. The Many Saints of Newark finally explains why the location is significant, as Holsten’s was a childhood and teenage hangout for young Tony Soprano. More importantly, when Tony and Dickie had a small falling out after Dickie refused to see his nephew several times, they were supposed to meet at Holsten’s to touch base and reconcile. Apart from this planned reconciliation, the meeting seemed to be when Dickie might finally bring Tony into the DiMeo fold. But as Dickie gets assassinated the night prior to the arranged meeting, Tony is left standing at Holsten’s doorway, waiting in vain for his uncle and mentor to show up.
Johnny Boy Soprano Shooting Through Livia’s Beehive Hair
Several stories from The Sopranos characters are used in The Many Saints of Newark. Apart from Dickie’s death, the most shocking among these stories is when Livia Soprano was ranting nonstop during a car ride, which prompted Johnny Boy Soprano to draw his gun and shoot a bullet through Livia’s beehive hair. Although Livia was physically unharmed, the incident further widened the gap and raised the tensions between Tony’s parents, which are key drivers in Tony’s motivations throughout The Sopranos.
Johnny Boy Soprano Getting Arrested In Front Of Tony And Janice
The Sopranos season 1, episode 7 features a flashback in which young Tony follows Johnny Boy and his sister Janice to a carnival, which turns out to be a meeting place for members of the DiMeo crime family. In this flashback, the two young Sopranos witness their father Johnny Boy and his associates get arrested by the police. And in The Many Saints of Newark, the police bring Tony and Janice back home to Livia Soprano, who gets riled up by the news of his husband’s arrest and takes it out on the kids.
Young Tony Soprano Not Having The Makings Of A Varsity Athlete
Junior Soprano’s remarks about Tony not having what it takes to become a varsity athlete in his youth is not only a Sopranos running joke, it’s also become a famous meme. In The Many Saints of Newark, during the scene in which Johnny Boy returns home from prison, Junior remarks to Janice that Tony doesn’t have the makings of a varsity athlete — which echoes the famous line from The Sopranos.
Tony Meeting Baby Christopher Hints At Sopranos Death
The same scene that references Junior’s “varsity athlete” remarks also has Christopher Moltisanti briefly appear as a baby. Christopher cries when Tony tries to hold him, and the young man muses that the baby seems scared of him, he is told this might be because babies are sometimes born with knowledge of the future. This is an indirect reference to how Tony kills Christopher in The Sopranos season 6.
Livia Soprano’s Struggle With Depression And Dickie Moltisanti’s Mental Problems
In The Many Saints of Newark, young Tony approaches Dickie Moltisanti for help with acquiring mood-stabilizing medication for his mother Livia, whom Tony has noticed to be unable to sleep. While Dickie refuses to help at first, Tony convinces him that it would be for the best. However, before Dickie can give Tony the medication, which might’ve happened at Holsten’s during their ill-fated scheduled meeting, Dickie gets killed, and the medication is found in his pockets. This is a reference to not just Livia Soprano’s mental health, which is a key Sopranos plot point, but also Dickie’s, as the pills that were left in his pocket led to speculations about his mental wellbeing.
Sopranos Theme Song Over Final Scenes And End Credits
Dickie’s funeral is the setting for the final scenes of The Many Saints of Newark. As teenaged Tony looks upon his uncle and mentor’s corpse, he imagines them making a pinky swear – a callback to an earlier pinky swear they made when Tony was just a child. During this scene, the iconic theme song from The Sopranos – “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3 – fades in, and then plays through the epilogue, which shows that it’s business as usual in Newark. Apart from tugging at the nostalgia of long-time Sopranos fans, this could suggest that this prequel is just the first part of a series of prequel films, and that the succeeding films will finally tackle how Tony becomes an actual member of the DiMeo crime family, which wasn’t shown in The Many Saints of Newark.