The Many Saints of Newark writer David Chase and stars Ray Liotta and Alessandro Nivola discussed the Sopranos prequel Saturday at Contenders Film: New York. Speaking with Deadline’s Mike Fleming, Chase and Nivola zeroed in on the explosive rage of Nivola’s character, Dickie Moltisanti, while Liotta had a different perspective on his role.
“In his case, I would say, I’m being Freudian about him, a lot of it has to do with his father,” Chase said. “His mother is mentioned. During the start of the thing we talked about his mother more. She didn’t appear but there was something there between the mother and his father.”
Reacting to a scene in which Dickie beats his father, Hollywood Dick (Liotta), by ramming his head over and over onto the steering wheel of a car, Nivola said portraying anger has never been a challenge.
“To me, it was about finding this complete person and trying to illuminate these two polar opposite sides of a personality,” he said. “One which is, as David said, due to the cycles of violence, fathers and sons and something that he can’t control and then the other that is somebody else entirely that is kind of confused and baffled by his own proclivity to violence. Seeing him vacillate between those two extremes was what was more exciting about the role for me.”
After hearing Nivola’s take, Chase admitted, “I’ll come clean about the rage. It comes from inside me.”
Liotta also plays Hollywood Dick’s twin brother, Salvatore, who spends the movie in prison. His visitors smuggle in jazz records for him to listen to, giving Liotta a way into the dual roles.
“I saw it based on David’s writing,” Liotta said. “To me it’s all about the script and this is what he put in the script to wanting to listen to Miles Davis, about reading Buddha. So it wasn’t a choice by me as much as what he wanted me to do. I just followed that.”
Liotta also distinguished his two roles with weight gain and loss.
“The toughest thing was just switching the way I looked,” Liotta said. “I must’ve been 30 pounds up. Then I lost 30 pounds to do that. It’s a great diet. But other than that, to me it’s always about the story and the script. That’s what I go by.”
Chase also said he does want to make more Sopranos movies but doesn’t have a timeline. “I don’t know how long,” he said. “I just don’t know. I’d like to do something else.”
Along with Nivola and Liotta, the film directed by Alan Taylor stars Michael Gandolfini as the young future mob boss Tony Soprano — the role his late father James Gandolfini made legendary — as well as Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen and John Magaro. It premiered at Tribeca in September and opened October 1 day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max.
Check out the panel video above.
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