Alessandro Nivola stars in “Many Saints of Newark”, the feature film written by David Chase and directed by Alan Taylor which serves as the prequel to the huge television series “The Sopranos”. We were able to ask him a few questions about his relationship to the series, David Chase’s idea for this film and the creation of his character of Dickie Moltisanti.
Alessandro Nivola is a well-known face of the Hollywood landscape, with a rich filmography that now spans over twenty-five years. He was notably Pollux Troy in Volte / Face, Billy Brennan in Jurassic Park 3, a football star in Goal and Goal 2, a prosecutor in American bluff, Dovid Kuperman in Disobedience. But he had never been until then in the middle of a big project. Actor with a very wide range and a familiar face, the fact that his popularity is not necessarily global may have worked in his favor when taking charge the character of Dickie Moltisanti, main role of Many Saints of Newark, the prequel to the monumental series The Sopranos.
We had the chance to speak with him for this unprecedented role in the universe of the series, that of Tony Soprano’s mentor.
What was, before Many Saints of Newark, your relationship to the series The Sopranos ?
Alessandro Nivola : I hadn’t seen everything, because I never really watched television. But of course I knew by reputation and had seen a few episodes, and I knew it was something unique, special, that had shaken television. When I was a young actor back then it was like a defeat to end up in a TV series, like a decision to give up and just take a pill. Series The Sopranos changed that, it changed the way we looked at the series.
In a way, she transformed what we saw as a second-rate creation into something closer to cinema, with real storytelling and by offering character development that is sometimes deeper and stronger than in some films. . So there is something fundamental. It is a pioneering series of the change in perception of television shows. So I had seen parts of it, and when I got the part, I finally watched it all.
You play as Dickie Moltisanti, a character absent from the series but whose shadow hangs over it. How did you perceive this character and his development?
YEAR : I felt that David Chase had naturally done something very clever in his approach to this prequel, developing a main character who only existed in the mythology of the universe. This allowed him as a screenwriter and allowed me as an actor to entirely invent the character. Rather than taking the responsibility of recreating a character or emulating another actor in the series.
And anything that is said in the series about Dickie Moltisanti can be true or entirely false. Because not all of these characters are reliable storytellers, you can’t really trust them.
So, Chris Moltisanti may know the truth about his father very well, like ignoring it. And Tony may well not be telling the truth either. So we had a lot of freedom to create with Many Saints of Newark a story that was both standalone and connected to the series.
Dickie Moltisanti is a torn man, both endearing and hateful, whose actions are nefarious. Are you interested in this moral ambiguity?
AN: Yes, because as soon as you are in the theater or in the cinema, I do not understand the characters in a moral order. There are no good and bad. I really focus on the experience of the character, how to make him act on his own terms. From there, all human beings are capable of extreme behavior, of having sincere kindness in them as well as deep violence.
I see Dickie as someone who was born in the wrong place, who could have grown up somewhere else and not been in the criminal world at all. I think that David Chase, this is one of the strong points of the film, tried to set up the mechanics of fate, of fatality, in the sense of Greek tragedy.
Can we escape our lineage, our parents, where we come from? The violence perpetrated by parents on children, which is then perpetuated by these children who have become adults … I believe that David conceived this character as if he had several voices in his head, some which push him to do good, to do things. noble things, but others that lead him to the dark side, from which he cannot escape.
He was beaten by his father, he has this rage in him …