Michael Gandolfini Says He Never Saw 'The Sopranos' Before Auditioning for 'The' 'Many Saints of Newark'

 Michael Gandolfini stars as a young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel film to HBO's iconic series The Sopranos

Michael Gandolfini had a little brushing up to do before stepping into his father James Gandolfini's iconic role as Tony Soprano in a prequel film for The Sopranos.

While appearing on The Tonight Show Wednesday, the 22-year-old actor said he never saw the hit HBO series before auditions began for The Many Saints of Newark, a confession that shocked Jimmy Fallon.

"I thought not only because I wanted to be my own actor [and] my own person, but also I'd never seen the show," Michael told Fallon, 47, of the backstory. "So I didn't know what Tony was."

Michael Gandolfini
Sean Gallagher/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Michael was born five months after the first episode of The Sopranos aired in 1999. The show wrapped after six seasons in 2007 when he was 8 years old.

James died in June 2013 from a heart attack at age 51.

Michael said he started watching his father's famous show once auditions began for The Many Saints of Newark began, and it didn't take long to get hooked.

"I watched the first season during the audition process and I was just like, 'I'll stay with the first season,' " he explained. "And then I went on and on and I became a fan of the show like everyone else. I just loved it."

Michael Gandolfini
Sean Gallagher/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The actor added that the opportunity to play his father's most iconic role has been "surreal" experience.

"I mean, it's incredible. It's [gone] full circle," he said.

In July, James' widow Deborah Lin told Page Six that it was "very surreal" and "emotional" to see her son take on her late husband's role as Tony Soprano in a trailer for The Many Saints of Newark.

"I know it took a lot of courage for him to take this role," she told the outlet, noting his entire family "is just so proud" of him. "His father would be very proud," Lin added.

michael and james gandolfini
Shutterstock; Everett

Earlier this month, Michael told The New York Times that "the pressure is on" as the release date for the Sopranos prequel inches closer.

"There's fear," he told the paper. "But the second layer, that a lot of people don't think about, which was actually harder, is to play Tony Soprano… not only was it the feeling of my dad — it was like, Tony Soprano is a [expletive] hard character."

The Many Saints of Newark hits theatres Friday.

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