‘Many Saints of Newark’ Director is Convinced Tony Soprano Died in Final Scene of ‘The Sopranos’

by Suzanne Halliburton

Count Alan Taylor, the director of Many Saints of Newark, among those who think Tony Soprano died in the diner at the end of the series.

There is no right answer. But 14 years later, that’s kind of the point. Taylor was in charge of telling the prequel to The Sopranos. That’s Many Saints of Newark, a movie that premieres Friday in theaters and on HBO Max. But if you want to tell the proper story about how Tony Soprano got his beginnings as a mob king, then it’s important to know how it all came to an end.

And Taylor believes that the cut-to-black scene, which ended the show in 2007, meant Tony died.

“There’s just too many signifiers [in the final season],” the Many Saints of Newark director told the Hollywood Reporter. “The biggest one for me is, I think in the entire history of The Sopranos, there’s only one line of dialogue that has ever been played back a second time as voiceover. And that’s when Bobby Baccalieri says that you don’t hear the bullet (when you die). So the fact that was said in an earlier episode, then repeated in voiceover later, I have to go with Tony’s dead.”

The Sopranos ran on HBO from 1999-2007. Critics and fans of the show are in general agreement. The Sopranos still is one of the best TV dramas ever. The final scene of the finale still is controversial, mostly because it’s so ambiguous. Tony meets his family for dinner. Tony keeps looking at the door. Someone walks in, The screen goes black. Then a few seconds later, the credits start rolling. In other words, you don’t hear the bullet when you’re shot. You just die.

According to Taylor, Sopranos creator David Chase told him the final scene allows for “every possibility (to be) alive in that room.”

(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

Since it’s a prequel, there probably won’t be answers to what happened to Tony in the Many Saints of Newark. Instead, you’ll get many answers as to how Tony became a mob boss in New Jersey, trying to juggle his family life and the family business. The late James Gandolfini won three Emmys for Best Actor for portraying Tony Soprano. He died in June 2013. He would’ve celebrated his 60th birthday two weeks ago.

But Gandolfini is very much represented in the Many Saints of Newark. Michael Gandolfini, James’ 22-year-old son, plays the young Tony. The casting is perfection, since the two look so much alike, especially in the eyes. The prequel takes place in the 1960s and 70s in Newark, N.J. The younger Gandolfini got his movie start in 2018 with Oceans 8.

Michael was born the same year as The Sopranos premiered on HBO. As a kid, he’s visit the set all the time. Chase, who created the show and the prequel, said he always wanted Michael for the Many Saints of Newark.

“I could not run out of superlatives to describe Michael,” Chase told NJ Advance Media. “If Michael had been terrible, I believe I would still have shot the movie with him and then cut the part down or something. But he wasn’t.”