Michael Gandolfini struggled to watch his late father as he researched Tony Soprano role

Michael Gandolfini called watching his father in The Sopranos "the hardest part of this whole process."

Michael Gandolfini had a hard time watching his late father on TV to get into character for The Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark.

The 19-year-old, who was with his dad James Gandolfini when he died on holiday in Italy in 2013, plays his father's most famous character as a young man in the new project, and admitted it was painful watching him as he tried to get into character as a mob boss in the making.

"Before the audition, I had never watched a minute of The Sopranos," Michael told Esquire. "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'.

"The hardest part of this whole process was watching the show for the first time. 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."

Michael admitted some scenes in the TV show, which ran from 1999 to 2007, were particularly tough to watch.

"There’s a scene where (his daughter) Meadow comes home late at night, and he’s sitting with a drink, and he’s like, 'You know I love you, right?' That hit hard," he explained. "The other one that crushed me was when he yells at A.J., and he gets a pizza to apologise, and he sits by his son’s bed and says, 'I couldn’t ask for a better son'. I just knew he was talking to me in that scene."

The Many Saints of Newark is due to be released in September 2020.

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