The Sopranos

Many Saints of Newark Star Warns The Movie Is Different From The Sopranos

Jon Bernthal, who plays Tony Soprano's father, Johnny Boy, in The Many Saints of Newark, warns that the prequel movie is unlike the HBO show.

Jon Bernthal, star of The Many Saints of Newark, warns that the prequel movie will be different from The Sopranos. Known for his past roles on AMC’s The Walking Dead and Netflix’s The Punisher, Bernthal will be playing Johnny Boy, the father of the iconic mob boss Tony Soprano, in the upcoming prequel film. The character was previously portrayed by Joseph Siravo in flashbacks throughout the original HBO series. As the film needed to cast an appropriate actor, Bernthal stepped in to fill his shoes.

Johnny Boy will be one of many characters returning in the prequel portrayed by younger actors. Michael Gandolfini stars as a younger version of Tony, the character originated by his late father, James. Other returning Sopranos characters include Livia (Vera Farmiga), Uncle June (Cory Stoll), Paulie Gualtieri (Billy Magnusson), and Silvio Dante (John Magaro). Alessandro Nivola stars as the film’s central character, Dickie Moltisanti, who was mentioned numerous times as Christopher’s father, but never actually seen throughout the HBO series.

RELATED: How The Sopranos Prequel Sets Up Tony & Christopher’s Story

During an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers (via THR), Bernthal shared his excitement for audiences to see Many Saints of Newark on October 1, but he also warned the prequel film will be different from the HBO series that inspired it. Read what Bernthal had to say below:

I will say that it’s different. I think people are going to go in expecting The Sopranos — it’s not that. I think that it was very smart that they set it in the past and it’s a genuine prequel. You will see that when [Chase] was writing this show, he clearly understood the full history of who these characters were. And for the real super-fans, I think it is going to be so much fun.

Dickie squeezes Tony's cheek in The Many Saints of Newark

Bernthal did note that “real super-fans” will have a lot of fun with the film, but he was also made sure to temper expectations for those expecting the film to be in the same vein as The Sopranos. For starters, Many Saints flashes back to a completely different time period, as it is set against the backdrop of the 1967 Newark riots. The racial strife of this era will be explored through the introduction of Leslie Odom Jr.’s character, Harold McBrayer, the leader of a rival gang that opposes Dickie.

While many are likely expecting Many Saints to be a full-fledged origin story for Tony Soprano, Chase and Taylor have both been transparent about the fact that Dicke, not Tony, is the film’s central character. This is also why his son Christopher (Michael Imperioli) narrates parts of the film. In addition, the title of the film actually refers to the Moltisantis, given that the name translates to “many saints,” indicating how it shifts the focus away from the Soprano family. Even though The Many Saints of Newark will be different from the HBO series, it will likely still provide an equally meaningful experience for those willing to invest in its immersive story.

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