The Many Saints of Newark director Alan Taylor says directing The Sopranos prequel movie is the hardest job he has ever done. The Emmy winner has directed numerous episodes of critically acclaimed series like The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones. The director returned to the mobster milieu with his latest project for Warner Bros., The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to the hit HBO series starring James Gandolfini.
From original series creator and writer David Chase, the prequel film will be set during the 1960s and 1970s and chronicle Tony Soprano’s (played by Gandolfini’s son Michael) rise from a rebellious teenager to New Jersey crime boss. The Many Saints of Newark will also bring back various Sopranos characters played by different actors, such as Livia Soprano (Vera Farmiga) Paulie Gualtieri (Billy Magnussen), Silvio Dante (John Magaro), and Junior Soprano (Corey Stoll). The film will also introduce Tony’s wiseguy uncle Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) as a central character. He was previously mentioned throughout the series as Christopher’s father. Additional new characters are played by Jon Bernthal, Ray Liotta, and Leslie Odom Jr.
Now, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director Alan Taylor opened up about his experience returning to the New Jersey mob world on The Many Saints of Newark. Taylor discussed how David Chase’s original goal with The Sopranos was to take the classic gangster genre and contemporize it on the small screen. Now here they are, ironically translating it back to the big screen, creating a Sopranos movie in the style that The Sopranos was pushing back against. This, as Taylor describes, was “the hardest job” he has “ever done.” Read what he had to say below:
Doing this in a way that would work for David’s vision was a huge challenge, something I would lie awake at night thinking about. This is the hardest job I’ve ever done.
For Taylor, this is really saying a lot considering his status as one of the most esteemed TV directors of all time. In addition to his work on The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones, he has directed episodes of The West Wing, Sex and the City, and Deadwood, but his experience is not just limited to television. Taylor has also helmed blockbusters like Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys.
One doesn’t have to look deep to see why The Many Saints of Newark was such a challenge for Taylor. For starters, expectations are naturally high given The Sopranos‘ status as one of the greatest dramas to ever grace the small screen. The film also takes place during a completely different time period, set against the backdrop of the 1967 Newark riots, and focuses on an entirely new character in Dickie. These are all notable deviations from the parent series which Taylor previously worked on, so it’s understandable why he found The Many Saints of Newark to be such a challenge.