Michael Gandolfini on stepping into his father’s shoes for ‘Sopranos’ movie

Click to play video: 'James Gandolfini’s son to play ‘Tony Soprano’ in prequel' James Gandolfini’s son to play ‘Tony Soprano’ in prequel
WATCH: Tony Soprano, the iconic character popularized by James Gandolfini, is set to be reborn by the late actor's son, Michael Gandolfini – Jan 23, 2019

Michael Gandolfini is ready to continue his father’s legacy.

The actor, son of late The Sopranos star James Gandolfini, is playing a young Tony Soprano in the upcoming movie prequel The Many Saints of Newark.

READ MORE: ‘The Sopranos’ prequel movie officially casts young Tony Soprano

Gandolfini is featured in the new issue of Esquire, and he opened up about taking on the iconic role and how his father actually encouraged him to get into directing, not acting.

“As I got older, he wanted me to play sports. I felt that burden,” the 19-year-old recalled. “I wanted to make him proud. And he said, ‘Don’t be an actor; be a director. They have the power.’”

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Gandolfini also spoke about going in to audition for The Many Saints of Newark and made a surprising confession.

“The funny thing is, before the audition, I had never watched a minute of The Sopranos,” he revealed. “I was just a kid when he was making it. I would go to the set and ask him what it was about, and he’d say, ‘Oh, it’s about this guy who’s in the mob and kind of goes to therapy.’”

READ MORE: ‘Sopranos’ feature film prequel gets Fall 2020 release date, new title

“The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time,” he continued. “It was an intense process. Because, as an actor, I had to watch this guy who created the role, to look for mannerisms, voice, all those things I would have to echo. But then I’d also be seeing my father. I think what made it so hard was I had to do it alone. I was just sitting alone in my dark apartment, watching my dad all the time.”

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