EXCLUSIVE: New Line has set Tony-winning actor Leslie Odom Jr. for a starring role in The Many Saints Of Newark, the prequel film to David Chase’s iconic HBO series The Sopranos. He joins Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Ray Liotta, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro and Michael Gandolfini, the latter of whom is reprising the Tony Soprano role originated by his late father, James Gandolfini.
No one is saying what role Odom Jr. will play, but the film is set in the era of the Newark riots in the 60s, when the African-Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats. Among the gangsters of each group, that clash became especially lethal. I have heard that Odom figures directly into that conflict which involves Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola), who is the father of Tony Soprano’s lieutenant Christopher (played in the series by Michael Imperioli). Insiders are under an omerta pledge not to divulge plot details, but New Line has acknowledged that some of the beloved characters from the show will appear in the movie.
Chase wrote the script with Lawrence Konner and Alan Taylor is directing. Along with Thor: The Dark World and Game of Thrones, Taylor directed numerous Sopranos episodes and won a 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for the episode Kennedy and Heidi. That was one of 21 Primetime Emmys won by the show when it ran from 1999-2007.
Chase is producing the film with Konner, while Nicole Lambert is exec producing for Chase Films with Marcus Viscidi and The Disco Factory’s Michael Disco.
Odom, Jr. is a star in the making. His breakout turn was playing Aaron Burr Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, which won him the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. He made his Broadway debut in Rent, is an author and Grammy-winning recording artist and is separately set to star in and be executive produce of an untitled ABC pilot with Simpson Street and Kerry Washington about joint pastors at a young, hip and diverse Los Angeles church. His last screen turn came in the Kenneth Branagh-directed Murder On The Orient Express, and he has four films in the can: the Takashi Doscher-directed Only, the Sia-directed Music, the John Ridley-directed Needle in a Haystack and the Kasi Lemmons-directed Harriet.
Odom, Jr. is repped by Creative Artists Agency, Untitled Entertainment and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer.
New Line releases The Many Saints of Newark on September 25, 2020. That is the film’s official title — at one point, information was erroneously put out with a title of Newark, but it was never going to be that title, thank goodness.