Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Many Saints of Newark. And for The Sopranos.
The Many Saints of Newark, the long-awaited Sopranos prequel, arrived last weekend, and it was probably not what most people expected. “Who made Tony Soprano?” read the ads, but we didn’t really learn that much about the mob boss when he was younger (except that he had a surprisingly high IQ). We actually learned more the Moltisanti family, specifically Alessandro Nivola’s Dickie, father to Michael Imperioli’s Christopher.
Imperioli, meanwhile, realized something dark about the character he played across six seasons. As per The Hollywood Reporter, the acclaimed actor and filmmaker recently went on Talking Sopranos, the podcast hosted by fellow alum Steve Schirripa. Imperioli serves as Many Saints’ narrator, with Christopher reflecting upon the past from the grave. But upon seeing the finished product, and upon seeing how Dickie wasn’t some monster dooming his son to an unpleasant life, he had a big realization.
“Dickie is a mobster and criminal, you can’t deny that — but he seems like a good guy,” Imperioli told Schirripa. “There are some noble qualities to him. I imagined him before the movie as more like Christopher, more hot-headed, but he wasn’t. He was a more composed character, which made me think that a lot of Christopher’s defects and addictive-compulsive nature actually came from not having a father.”
In other words, Christopher wasn’t a whole lot like his father. They both had demons, but Dickie was mostly functioning, and could mostly — but not always — keep it together. Christopher is damaged for other reasons.
Perhaps it’s the world he grew up in. Imperioli talked about the ending of Many Saints, in which his father is whacked on the orders of a key member of the crime family, and for petty reasons.
“It shows how f*cked up the Sopranos are,” Imperioli said. “It made me think that Christopher was doomed from the start, from birth. It is almost like it is imprinted in his genetics.”
The Many Saints of Newark is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max.