In “Many Saints of Newark” Billy Magnussen plays Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, one of the most memorable characters from “The Sopranos”. He was asked a few questions about this experience.
Billy Magnussen has a cheerful voice and a grateful tone. The one who embodies Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri in Many Saints of Newark, in addition to being a very competent actor, has a communicative mood and a smile that can be heard. Before coming to the first question, he wants to express himself in French and lets go with a laugh, with a pronounced accent but a perfect correction: “I like the French language, but the problem is that I speak French like a Spanish cow“. But he quickly returns to English to tell us with enthusiasm his role in the film of the young Paulie” Walnuts “Gualtieri, one of the most cult characters of the immense series The Sopranos.
What was your reaction when entering the universe The Sopranos ?
Billy Magnussen : I was very lucky with Many Saints of Newark, because I was auditioning for another role, which I didn’t get. But then they asked me if I was interested in playing Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, and my reaction was “HELL YEAH! “. To be able to be part of this monumental heritage, of the universe The Sopranos, this is a great opportunity.
Do we feel the pressure?
BM : But so much! I had so much pressure! The feeling of carrying the world on my shoulders. But you know, the key is to focus on having a good time, telling the story, and being honest about the character and what you’re trying to create. And what helped was having a team fully focused on the best possible accomplishment of the project.
You play the unforgettable Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, have you met her performer in the series, Tony Sirico?
BM : Yes I met him! Tony Sirico came to see us one day. He’s a true gentleman, and I admire him for all the hard work he has put in over the years on the show. He is very funny, relaxed, confident. I believe he wasn’t really a character on the show, but he was really himself. “Bada Boom”, “Bada Bing”, it’s for real!
How is “your” Paulie in Many Saints of Newark ?
I play a younger “Walnuts”, therefore less high up than in the series. I tried to get to the heart of the character, and my job was to make the best possible portrait of him while also helping the development of the story. Young Paulie is already a little crazy, he’s got an imbalance and it was a lot of fun to play, with his hand games and his unique attitude.
Can we think of a new collaboration with David Chase in this universe?
David Chase is a master, the universe he created is incredible. It’s been a lesson, and since I’m one of the younger cast of Many Saints of Newark, I mostly sat down to listen wisely. I watched, I tried to hold everything back, like a sponge!
It was a great opportunity. I had obviously never projected myself in the role of an Italian-American mafia version The Sopranos. Of course, I grew up watching mafia movies too, it’s daring and exhilarating cinema. In terms of continuing this story, you also have to consider the schedule, when and where I will be then. You never know what’s going to happen, whether there will be an opportunity or not, and whether or not we will be able to respond to it. But my character is fascinating, so yes I am very open to the opportunity to find him.