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Alessandro Nivola covers Man About Town 2021, Chapter 2 | Fall 2021

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Alessandro Nivola

For a film fascinated by the notion of fate and family, it seems only fitting that Alessandro Nivola spotted one of his grandfather’s sculptures in the background of a Sopranos episode the day after being cast in The Many Saints of Newark. Billed as The Sopranos prequel, the film sees writer and producer David Chase return to the world of the New Jersey Mafia, with Nivola playing Dickie Montesanti – a young Tony Soprano’s misguided mentor and a tragic figure thinly concealed behind a glamorous veneer. 

Among cameos in Noah Baumbach’s new film and a couple of lighter-relief comedic projects, Nivola spent an afternoon with Man About Town to tackle the ever pressing question of whether we are all destined to become our parents, among other things. 

Congratulations on Saints of Newark, it was my first time in a cinema in almost two years! 
That’s so cool. Just the fact you hadn’t seen a movie in the cinema for that long, it would’ve had to really have sucked for you to have hated it. 

Obviously everyone knows The Sopranos and though your character isn’t physically in it, he is alluded to. Was it daunting to enter such an established world? 
I couldn’t have been more relieved not to have been burdened with the responsibility of doing an impersonation of some well loved actor! Although Dickie is referenced, he’s talked about by characters who lie a lot. Even Michael Imperioli, who plays my son, nothing he says is necessarily true so I didn’t feel any burden of responsibility to satisfy some well established set of parameters. David [Chase] told the story around this unknown character so the film could exist autonomously without needing it to be tied to the series. He really wanted the film to be its own entity. 

Chase has referred to the film as a more “polished take” on The Sopranos, is that fair? 
The polished presentation of the time definitely helped create this irony and disconnect between perception and reality. Dickie has a veneer of charm and respectability that completely belies his total emotional chaos, inside he’s just an absolute mess. He has this longing to be recognised for doing good but he’s so ill equipped to know how to handle that. One of the themes in the movie is how your childhood can be a kind of fate, like a greek tragedy. The cycles of violence in these families were so difficult to escape and he has this self-defeating hair trigger rage. He perpetrates crimes of passion, they happen in a moment of uncontrollable emotion and he ends up destroying the people he loves the most and ultimately himself. By setting it at a time where the character could dress in such a dapper way and seem so polished it’s a great way of contrasting the real moral confusion and emotional chaos that's going on just behind that veneer...

To read the full interview with Alessandro Nivola, pre-order the AW21 issue of Man About Town here.

Alessandro wears Ermenegildo Zegna on the cover of the AW21 issue. 

Photography: Blair Getz Mezibov
Styling: Grant Woolhead
Grooming: Takayoshi Tsukisawa at Streeters Agency 
Interview: Olivia Allen
Editor: Mike Christensen
Production: Aurora Wardlaw at North Six
Styling assistant: Trevor McMullan
Editorial director: Huw Gwyther 
Location: Highlight Studios