James Gandolfini's son Michael cast in 'Sopranos' prequel

LOS ANGELES, USAThe 19-year-old son of the late James Gandolfini has been cast to play a young Tony Soprano in the planned prequel to the hit television show The Sopranos.

Michael Gandolfini was chosen to take on his father's most famous role in the upcoming movie The Many Saints of Newark, which will delve into the life of the young mobster in the 1960s.

"It's a profound honor to continue my dad's legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano," the actor said in a statement.

James Gandolfini died of a heart attack in 2013 at age 51. He played mob boss Tony in the series which ran between 1999 and 2007 and earned 21 Emmy Awards and 5 Golden Globes.

Michael Gandolfini is best known for his breakout role in the HBO drama series "The Deuce." 

He was reportedly picked to play a young Tony after an extensive audition.

"Insiders said that his screen presence, mastery of Tony's mannerisms, coupled with his resemblance to the elder Gandolfini made him the standout choice for the role because no one there understood the character better," Deadline Hollywood said.

Also starring in the movie, set during the 1960s Newark riots, will be Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Billy Magnussen and Corey Stoll.

Sopranos creator David Chase will co-write and co-produce the film.

The Sopranos cast recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of the iconic show's debut.

News of Michael Gandolfini stepping into his father's shoes was greeted favorably by fans on social media.

"James Gandolfini's son, Michael, is set to play young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark. I am so excited for this movie! No one could replace Jimmy Gandolfini, but who better to step into his iconic shoes than his son?" one twitter user said.– Rappler.com