The name and the face will be familiar to the millions of devoted fans of ‘The Sopranos’, and of his late, great father’s magnetic persona and acting talents.
But Michael Gandolfini – the son of James, who played Tony Soprano in perhaps the greatest TV show ever made – is now deservedly making a name for himself.
The 21-year-old has been honing his craft as an actor and director at New York University, alongside making his big screen debut in ‘Ocean’s 8’ in 2018, and impressing audiences with his breakout role in HBO show ‘The Deuce’.
This year, he is truly jumping in the deep end, following in his dad’s footsteps by starring as the young Tony Soprano in ‘The Many Saints of Newark’, the hotly-anticipated prequel movie to the hit HBO show, which is to be released this fall.
He also joins Tom Holland in the Apple TV+ original ‘Cherry’, adapted from the Nico Walker book about a drug addicted army medic suffering from PTSD who becomes a bank robber, released next month and already gaining early Oscars buzz.
Here Michael gives a unique insight into his life as a sober, thoughtful and committed young actor as the latest subject of our ‘Who The F*** Are You?’ profile – answering the 20 questions that get to the heart of who we are.
Who the f*** are you?
I have no clue who I am. I want to be a good human, mostly. I try to learn and educate myself in order to do that. I think who I am boils down to my actions. So, I’m a Junior in college, an aspiring actor, and a sober young man.
How are you feeling right now?
Gratitude fills most of my emotional life. I’m a very, very lucky person in many regards — food, water, shelter, the people in my life, my education. I have little to complain about. I can fall into impatience, and I can want “more” sometimes, but I’m ultimately just grateful.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in New York City and Los Angeles. I traveled between both for most of my life, and I think that they defined me in lots of ways. I’ve met a lot of people and seen a lot of things. I think that exposure to the different values and lifestyles found in NY, LA, and NJ (where my dad’s family is from) has given me a lot of different perspectives that I’m very grateful for.
What excites you?
Meeting new people. Seeing friends. New music. New movies
What scares you?
Take your pick of clichés. Failing. Being too naïve. Being too selfish. Not helping enough people. How my actions affect others or how I’m being perceived.
What is your proudest achievement?
I’m most proud of my sobriety.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
I still can’t believe I passed my high school math classes.
Who was your greatest mentor and what did they teach you?
Chris Bauer [the actor] is an incredibly talented and inspiring man. He has really affected almost every aspect of my life. Through his actions and example, he taught me thankfulness, patience, and what it means to be a truly good man. I hope to grow up to be like him.
Who are your fictional and real-life heroes?
Fictional: Mad Max. Real-Life: Michael Shannon.
What is your favorite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
I wear these old, raggedy, stained pair of army boots almost every day.
What music did you love aged 13 — and do you still love it now?
At 13, I was probably listening to a lot of The Rolling Stones, The Black-Eyed Peas, and a plethora of Disney songs. I still listen to The Rolling Stones almost every day.
What is the most inspiring book you have ever read?
‘The Drama of The Gifted Child’ by Alice Miller had a profound impact on me and my emotional life.
What is a movie that left a lasting impression on you?
‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ left me floored. I’ve probably seen it 20 times by now. It’s a real complicated investigation into the relationship between fathers and sons.
What is your favorite word or saying?
“You can change if you see the light or feel the fire.”
What do you want people to say at your funeral?
I hope people can say that they had a lot of good laughs with me.
And finally, a quickfire five favorites…
Los Angeles Kings.
Pasta, butter, cheese.
Onexton Gel – my topical acne prescription.