(CBS Local)– Sopranos fans, the moment you’ve all been waiting for is finally coming this week. The young versions of Tony Soprano, Paulie Walnuts, Livia Soprano, Silvio Dante and Junior Soprano are all back in the new movie “The Many Saints of Newark.” The film from the creator of “The Sopranos” David Chase takes a look at the formative years of Tony in Newark, New Jersey during the 1960s.
Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late James Gandolfini, plays Tony and the movie features other big names actors like Vera Farmiga, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll and Ray Liotta. The film revolves around the story of Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Christopher Moltisanti, and Tony Soprano’s mentor in the business of the mafia.
Actor Gabriella Piazza plays Joanne Moltisanti, who is the wife of Dickie and the mother of Christopher. CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith recently spoke to Piazza about her breakout role in the movie, what it was like to work with Chase, Gandolfini and Liotta and what kind of reactions she thinks fans of “The Sopranos” will have to this prequel movie. “The Many Saints of Newark” is in theaters and on HBO Max on Friday, October 1.
“I had just serendipitously started watching The Sopranos series,” said Piazza. “I was never allowed to watch it growing up. My father is an ex-FBI agent. I had just started it and when I got to the audition, they changed the names and everything on it, so you had to do your own investigation. I was reading it and I was like this sounds like the The Sopranos. It was wild and I went in and felt kind of at home. I was yelling about food at a dinner table, which was was the audition.”
Unlike many of the other characters in this movie, Joanne Moltisanti only appears a few times in “The Sopranos,” but Christopher Moltisanti talks about her every once in a while. Piazza loves that she had the blank canvas to create a new character.
“I thought a lot about who would create Christopher,” said Piazza. “Who would be the mother of Christopher in the series. I wanted to bring that matriarch and a true Italian wife in the 1960s and 1970s and it was a blessing to play with David Chase’s writing and Lawrence Konner’s writing. It was awesome.”
While there were many memorable moments from the experience, one of the best for Piazza was getting the chance to work with Liotta. The New Jersey native and the star of “Goodfellas” plays Aldo Moltisanti in the film. Piazza learned a lot from Liotta, Chase and Michael Gandolfini during her time on the set of this movie.
“You walk onto the set and it’s these heavy hitters who are incredibly talented and Ray is one of those people,” said Piazza. “I got to be in a few scenes with him and he is just so focused and so hilarious. His takes are just magic. In between takes he is freakin’ hilarious. He makes you feel comfortable and he is such an exceptional actor. I felt like I was watching a masterclass when I worked with him.”
“The day of the table read, Michael Gandolfini came up to me and introduced himself and made me feel so comfortable to be there. He just sort of paved the way for us and it was just such a beautiful experience watching him work. He brought it and did it so beautifully. He made us all want to bring it. It was such an honor and he has become such a dear friend of mine. I’m so happy for him to have this experience and he knocks it out of the park.”