Undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed TV series ever produced, HBO’s The Sopranos aired from 1999 to 2007. In the main role, James Gandolfini starred as Tony Soprano, with Michael Imperioli co-starring as Christopher Moltisanti. Newark will reportedly feature Christopher’s father, Dickie Moltisanti, with the narrative exploring racial conflict between Italian-Americans and African-Americans. Earlier this month, the prequel cast The Umbrella Academy star John Magaro and previously cast Goodfellas star Ray Liotta and Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late Sopranos star, who passed away in 2013 at age 51.
Per Deadline, Odom Jr. will have a starring role in Newark. Though plot details haven’t fully been revealed, the casting suggests the American actor and singer will indeed have a crucial role. At 37 years old, Odom Jr. is mostly known for portraying Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical Hamilton, for which he won a 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor. Since 2003, Odom Jr. has appeared in numerous television series, including a lead role in NBC’s short-lived musical drama Smash. In recent years, Odom Jr. has also had recurring roles on CBS’ Person of Interest and NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. On the big screen, Odom Jr. portrayed Dr. Arbuthnot in 2017's Murder on the Orient Express, and has a starring role in John Ridley’s upcoming film Needle in a Timestack, along with a role in Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet.
Last week, Newark received its official title and release date. Previously, Chase’s film had been known as “The Many Saints of Newark,” however New Line ultimately decided to keep it simple. As of March 2019, no other films have been scheduled for Newark’s release date, and the film’s hype continues to increase as new details emerge about the scope of the project. For years, it seemed unlikely that a Sopranos prequel would ever be produced, but that all changed when Newark was officially announced in March 2018. Last October, the first story details were revealed, and a young Tony Soprano character was announced in January. Since then, numerous high-profile names have been added to the cast, beginning with Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga, and then Corey Stoll and Billy Magnussen.
At this point, we know that Newark has a great cast, and that fans can expect an explosive narrative, at least considering the historical context. With that said, it will be interesting to see how much violence Chase includes, as times have changed since the The Sopranos ended, and viewers have different expectations. In other words, Newark will most likely be an effective genre film, rather than one that’s targeted at numerous demographics. With that said, Jordan Peele has proven that the right mix of narrative polish and restraint can be highly effective when trying to connect with modern, mainstream audiences.