If someone says you’re auditioning for a mystery film with no plot or character details, you do it, because sometimes it means you land a role in The Sopranos movie. Ahead of the release of The Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints Of Newark, Oscar nominee Leslie Odom Jr. reveals he had no idea what he was auditioning for at the time.
“I’d heard that the film was happening. I wasn’t up for it in the original rounds of auditions. But there came a point where they needed someone quickly, and I got the call. I don’t even know that I knew I was auditioning for the ‘Sopranos’ [movie],” Odom Jr. says. “They keep things very tight to the vest. They’re like the MCU. They don’t send you a script, don’t send you character names, scenarios are changed. You have to make some choices as an actor. You take what you see, and you start inventing.”
As much as the adage “fake it till you make it” proves helpful in the workplace, Odom Jr. reached a point where he was desperate for any details. “I got a call that they liked the tape that I made, but they had some notes for me. I taped again, then they wanted me to tape again with more notes,” Odom Jr. says. “And I said, ‘Guys, I don’t mind taping again, but you’ve got to send me a script. I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Then I got on the phone with [director] Alan [Taylor], and he helped clear up all of my questions.”
This all worked out for Odom Jr., who is the first Black lead in The Sopranos universe. The One Night in Miami actor plays Harold McBrayer, a small-time numbers runner who works for Dickie Moltisanti, but of course Odom Jr. was unaware of this during his audition. “I didn’t know who I was playing,” Odom Jr. says. “There was this one scene that ended up in the movie, I’m in the bed with my girlfriend and I’m playing it a bit lighthearted, and Alan calls me and says, ‘I like what you’re doing, but remember, you just killed [someone] a few scenes before.’ I said, ‘Alan, I don’t know any of that. That’s privileged information.’”
The Many Saints Of Newark arrives in theaters on October 1.