‘Many Saints of Newark’ Star Michael Gandolfini Isn’t Worried About Getting Typecast

by Josh Lanier

Michael Gandolfini says he’s very different from his dad, the late, great James Gandolfini. His dad was a commanding figure who mastered the art of playing tough guys. Michael is thin and slight, and he says he wants to explore some sensitive roles.

He doesn’t worry that Hollywood will typecast him as a wise guy in mobster movies. The 22-year-old recently played a teenaged Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel to The Sopranos, the character and show that made his father a household name.

He’ll next appear in The Offer, the upcoming Paramount+ miniseries about the making of The Godfather. Miles Teller, Juno Temple, Colin Hanks, and Giovanni Ribisi will star in the series. Michael Gandolfini said he plays a Texas millionaire who tries to buy Paramount studios.

That’s back-to-back mobster movies for him. But he doesn’t think about things that way. He just wants to work.

“I just love my job,” he told TooFab. “So whenever I get to do it, I’m happy to do it.”

He added that producers can tell the difference between him and his dad, and they’ll cast him accordingly. He’s also open to exploring all genres.

“I mean, I think that casting directors are really talented at what they do and whatever I fit in,” he explained. “I’m obviously physically and emotionally very different than my dad, so wherever I fit, man. I’m happy to be a part of anything.”

James Gandolfini died in 2013 after suffering a heart attack while on a trip with his family to Rome. Michael found him on the bathroom floor of his hotel suite after a day of sightseeing.

‘Sopranos’ Co-star Says James Gandolfini ‘Stepped Up’ To Help Her

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played Meadow Soprano, the daughter of Tony Soprano, said James Gandolfini was not like his character. He was a man who cared deeply for his friends and castmates. Someone who would do whatever he could to help them.

In the new book Woke Up This Morning, an oral history of The Sopranos, Sigler recalls a time when he “stepped up” for her when she needed it. In 2005, doctors had diagnosed her with the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis just as her marriage to AJ DiScala was coming apart. She kept her problems to herself, but he could tell she was struggling.

“There was a time in the maybe fourth or fifth season where I was dealing with my divorce privately and my diagnosis of MS and a lot of other stuff that I wasn’t talking to people about, and he really stepped up,” she said. “… He sent his acting coach, Susan Aston, to work with me, just to make sure I was taken care of. Little things like that, that he really just stepped up in amazing ways.” 

Sigler said Gandolfini’s death devastated her. She told Oprah Winfrey last year that she still struggles to make sense of it.

“James Gandolfini was one of the most humble human beings I’ve ever met, but also just one of the most powerful presences I’ve ever been around,” she said. “He didn’t even realize, I think, the strength and light that he brought into every room that he walked into.”