Actor Allesandro Nivola, best known for co-starring in Face-Off with Nicolas Cage and American Hustle with Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, will play Dickey Moltisanti in The Sopranos movie being produced jointly by Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema. Moltisanti was never seen on screen, only referenced in the landmark HBO drama which ran from 1999 to 2007 and chronicled the life of fictional suburban middle-aged New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano portrayed brilliantly by James Gandolfini in career and genre-defining fashion.

Nivola is the first actor cast in the heavily-hyped prequel project announced earlier this year. Gandolfini died suddenly of a heart attack in 2013.

Titled The Many Saints of Newark, the film was penned by Sopranos creator David Chase. It will be directed by Alan Taylor (The Sopranos, Mad Men, Game of Thrones), responsible for helming a number of classic episodes of the original series and is slated to begin production in March eying a late 2019 release.

The movie’s timeline will cover the late 1960s and 1970s. The Tony Soprano character is a young boy and then a teenager juggling high school football and mob ambitions simultaneously. With his mafia capo dad “Johnny Boy” behind bars in the mid-1970s, Dickey Moltisanti steps into the picture to groom him as a wiseguy. During the original series, Tony mentored Dickey’s son, drug-addled Christopher (Michael Imperioli) and the two would often talk about Tony’s memories of Dickey, who was killed when Christopher was an infant.

A new character named Aldo Moltisanti will also be introduced in the film. According to the casting call, he is an “elegant wiseguy in his 60s” and possibly Tony’s grandfather. Aldo Moltisanti is Dickey’s dad and Dickey covets his father’s new Italian bride.

The murder of Dickie Moltisanti was a central storyline in The Sopranos’ Season 4 premiere in 2002. In the episode, Tony told Christopher that retiring police detective Barry Haydu (Tom Mason) killed his dad on a contract from a rival mobster. Upon learning this, Christopher breaks into the dirty cop’s house and shoots him to death.

The Sopranos was massively popular and a critical darling. Television historians credit the show for sparking the current golden era of TV and the rise of the anti-hero in both television and film, as well as giving birth to the concept of prestige programming across the industry. The show ended in June 2007 after six seasons and 21 Emmy Awards with a polarizing conclusion. The final episode fades to black as Tony and his family enjoy a meal at a local diner in the wake of a mob war claiming his brother-in-law and putting his best friend on his death bed in the hospital.

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