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Michael Gandolfini reveals he only watched 'The Sopranos’ before being cast as younger version of his late father’s character in forthcoming prequel movie


Michael Gandolfini and James Gandolfini as the younger and older versions of Tony Soprano.

Like father, like son — but with a few conditions.

Michael Gandolfini is set to portray a younger version of father James Gandolfini’s seminal character in the forthcoming prequel of “The Sopranos,” but recently revealed he never watched HBO’s hit show until he got the role.

The spitting image of his late father — who died of a heart attack in 2013 – had to audition for a role in the David Chase-scripted film, which also stars Jon Bernthal, Ray Liotta, Vera Farmiga and Tony Award-winner Leslie Odom Jr. among others.

In an interview with Esquire magazine for its September issue, getting prepared for the role of 19-year old Tony Soprano in “The Many Saints of Newark” meant he had to watch “The Sopranos” for the first time.

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"It was an intense process," says Gandolfini, who also appears on HBO's “The Deuce.” "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."

He added, "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...I started having crazy dreams. I had one where I auditioned for David [Chase] and I looked down at my hands, and they were my dad’s hands."

His father’s death encouraged him to give acting a try — and subsequently helped him deal with his loss.

"From the first day, I fell in love with it," he says of acting. "It actually started my grieving process with my dad."

“The Many Saints of Newark” — looking at the formative years of New Jersey gangster Tony Soprano — is currently shooting around New York and New Jersey.

The 1960s-based drama is set to hit theaters sometime in 2020.