Jimmy Kimmel is a major fan of The Sopranos, and one of the lucky few who has already been able to catch a screening of The Many Saints of Newark, the upcoming movie that delves into Tony Soprano’s life before, well, The Sopranos. On Tuesday, The Sopranos creator David Chase—who co-wrote the film—popped by Jimmy Kimmel Live to chat about the movie and the ways in which its star, Michael Gandolfini, is like his late father. Chase also shared the very special nickname that James Gandolfini bestowed on the creator during their time on The Sopranos: Satan.
It was meant lovingly, of course, but Chase wasn’t the only one to earn a slightly morbid moniker from the late actor. “He called all the writers ‘vampires,’ because we would steal from the actors’ real lives,” Chase explained. “We never stole anything from him, but we stole a lot from Tony Sirico.”
Sirico famously played Peter Paul Gualtieri, a.k.a. Paulie Walnuts, on The Sopranos. While he made his acting “debut” as an extra in 1974’s Crazy Joe, a fictionalized account of the murder of infamous mobster Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo, up until that point, Sirico had a longer rap sheet than he did a filmography. He was arrested more than two dozen times and spent 20 months of a four-year sentence at Sing Sing before turning to acting.
While Sirico’s life offered lots of fodder for the writers, The Sopranos (and, by extension, The Many Saints of Newark) is somewhat autobiographical for Chase, particularly as it relates to Tony’s relationship with his mother, who was based on Chase’s own mom.
Chase and Kimmel discussed a particular scene in The Many Saints of Newark in which Tony fondly recalls a very “warm night” he spent with his mother, which was not the not the norm in the Soprano—or Chase—household.
“That happened to me,” Chase explained of the origins of the scene. “My father was painting in the other room, in the living room, and my mother read me this book. And she was very sweet and nice… she was not like that often. So that’s why that’s in the movie… It wasn’t that she was a mean person. She just wasn’t affectionate.”
You can watch the full clip above, starting around the 4:50 mark.
The Many Saints of Newark will open in theaters and be available to stream on HBO Max on October 1.