THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK
October 6th, 2021 by Regina Graves SDSA
We checked in with Set Decorator Regina Graves SDSA for a few brief notes on her latest project, THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK, the film prequel to the hit series THE SOPRANOS, Regina again working with Production Designer Bob Shaw and her talented, loyal crew.
The studio doesn’t want us to divulge much, so we can’t show photos that really showcase the sets...there are so many great ones, each evocative of the times and culture, giving such detailed background to the characters...but we can definitely give you a peek!
For more, see the film!!!
From Set Decorator Regina Graves SDSA...
“The biggest challenge for me was re-creating this previously established world for the millions of diehard SOPRANO fans out there. We had a bit of leeway because this takes place a couple of decades before the time the series is set in, but I wanted to make sure they were satisfied—the fans can be tough critics. We had to do right by them and make sure it looked believable. It helped that Bob had been the Production Designer on most of the series, and I love collaborating with him!”
[Editor’s note: See our extensive article with Regina & Bob re: THE IRISHMAN in our Film Decor section!]
“Known as ‘Gentleman Dick’, Dickie Moltisanti, one of the “many saints” or “moltisanti” in Italian, is a member of New Jersey’s DiMeo crime family. Not yet with a son of his own, he enjoys a close relationship with the young Tony Soprano [Michael Gandolfini], the son of Dickie’s close associate, Johnny Soprano.” New Line/WB Alessandro Nivola and Michaela de Rossi as Dickie & Giuseppina Moltisanti. Courtesy of Warner Bros. ©2021
“Getting into the narrative and character of the two main families’ homes, the Sopranos and the Moltisanti, was very easy for me. My grandmother’s family settled in Newark after they immigrated from Italy, and my mother was born there. I grew up right across the river, so I’m very familiar with the area, the people, and the Italian American culture. I dug into old family photos and used my memories to bring the sets to life.”
“The Soprano home is very traditional, based on the family most likely having moved into the home in the mid-to-late ‘50s and the furnishings very provincial. I modeled the “layers” after items I grew up with, making sure the dining room table had a needle-lace cutwork embroidery cloth like my grandmother had.”
Sopranos’ dining room...From left: Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano [back to camera], Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano, Jon Bernthal as Johnny Soprano, Michael Gandolfini as teenage Tony Soprano, Gabriella Piazza as Joanne Moltisanti, Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti, and a gorgeous cutwork tablecloth. Photo by Barry Wetcher ©2021 Warner Bros.
“I imagined the Moltisanti home as similar but different at the same time. We tried to streamline the provincial to a more modern traditional look because Dickie and his wife were a bit younger, but the Italian American feel is still evident through the art, lighting, and decorative smalls. The only request that came from David Chase was NO plastic slipcovers...LOL.”
Moltisanti family dining room... Dickie & his wife are living side by side with his father and his father’s new, much younger wife from Italy in attached houses that mirror each other. A great visual symbolism! Gabriella Piazza as Joanne Moltisanti, Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti, Ray Liotta as his father ‘Hollywood Dick’ Moltisanti and Michela De Rossi as Giuseppina Moltisanti. Photo by Barry Wetcher ©2021 Warner Bros.
“This job truly felt close to home for me. The original SOPRANOS television series filmed in my hometown of Harrison and birthplace of Kearny, and my husband grew up going to Holsten’s ice cream parlor, that’s just how close!”
“Being a Jersey girl myself, it was very important to show how these families lived and still live in Northeast N.J. Most of the furniture, appliances and décor pieces in the film were sourced through northern New Jersey Craigslist ads and Facebook Marketplace, plus yard sales and thrift stores in the NY/NJ area. Our set dressers were taking trips almost daily to pack up people’s belongings that they no longer wanted or needed. The provincial dining room set we found for the Soprano home was in such great condition that we even purchased the china and glassware for the cabinets from the same person—It was like one-stop shopping!”
“And, of course, we relied on some of our invaluable resources, particularly SDSA business members Eclectic Encore, Ron Fennick NYC, Fabric City, American Screen and Window, Newel Props, Carpet Time and City Knickerbocker.”
Editor’s note: See Regina’s full list at end of article*
The Silhouette Club... Couldn’t be more classic! Samson Moeakiola as Pussy Bonpensiero, Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano, Billy Magnussen as Paulie Walnuts, Michela De Rossi as Giuseppina Moltisanti (second from right) and Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti.
“THE MANY SAINTS went back and forth in time, through a couple of seasons and holidays, including Christmas, and we covered multiple huge events such as the Newark riots. In a décor sense, the Rat Pack vibe of the Silhouette Club and Giuseppina’s mod love nest were favorites to decorate. Another set that was fun was the beauty parlor Giuseppina wants Dickie to buy her. When Bob suggested curtains for the windows, my first thought was ‘Eww! Sticky!’ I was imagining all the Aqua Net in the air! But the treatment worked and the palette of pink and blue was perfectly delicious for the setting, and I’m proud of all that Bob, my decorating team, and I accomplished.”
Editor’s note: For additional photos, keep scrolling below!
*Set Decorator Regina Graves SDSA would like to acknowledge the following SDSA Business members who were significant resources for the film:
American Screen and Window
Astek Wall Coverings
Bridge Furniture & Props
History for Hire
Omega Cinema Props
Ron Fennick Props – Fennick NYC
Strickland’s Set Services
Dickie’s Warehouse: Creator/Producer David Chase and Alessandro Nivola, who plays Dickie Moltisanti, “...a mid-level gangster in the DiMeo crime family who has his hands in all sorts of illegal activity but aspires for more...” Chase describes Dickie as “a polished yet complex character. He’s intelligent and groping around for meaning and self-identification.” Photo by Barry Wetcher ©2021 Warner Bros.
Dickie’s warehouse...Regina reveals, “Dickie’s desk at his warehouse was an old tank style desk we rented from Ron Fennick Props. The warehouse was an empty shell when we scouted. We filled it with period jukeboxes, slot machines, and vending machines of the period.” Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti and Michael Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Photo by Barry Wetcher ©2021 Warner Bros.
Sopranos’ living room...Gandolfini points out, “Tony doesn’t want to be in the mob, and he doesn’t want to live the life of a criminal. I think he knows that if he ever wants to make his dad proud, he has to be in the mob. And that’s really all he wants, is to make his family proud.” Gandolfini, with Jon Bernthal as his father, Johnny Soprano, and Alexandra Intrator as his sister Janice. Photo by Barry Wetcher ©2021 Warner Bros.
Soprano kitchen... Regina reveals, “Most of the vintage wallpapers seen throughout the movie are from Hannah’s Treasures. Marilyn has the best selection of authentic old stock papers. I couldn’t imagine doing a period show without her.” Michael Gandolfini as teenage Tony Soprano, Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti. Photo by Barry Wetcher ©2021 Warner Bros.
“Soprano kitchen... Regina explains, “Livia’s 1950’s Formica kitchen table and gold metal chairs were purchased on Etsy. When she moved...after the 1971 Newark riots...we upgraded her look to a mod ‘70s style round kitchen table complete with green vinyl swivel bucket seats.” Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano, Michael Gandolfini as her son Tony. Photo by Barry Wetcher ©2021 Warner Bros.
Tables, tables and tables! Here another “family” gathering. Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti. Courtesy of Warner Bros.©2021
Backroom, Satriale’s Pork Store...Taking an iconic set from the series back in time, but still recognizable. Yet another significant table! Ray Liotta as Hollywood Dick Moltisanti, Joey Coco Diaz as Buddha, Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano, Samson Moeakiola as Pussy Bonpensiero and Billy Magnussen as Paulie Walnuts. Photo by Barry Wetcher ©2021 Warner Bros.
From Leslie Odom Jr, who plays Harold. “It’s telling a story of all the little microaggressions, the little indignities that Harold has had to suffer, that a people, a community has had to suffer... and how eventually those things boil over. Newark is on fire, and Harold is on fire.” Here, post riots, Harold and Cyril [Leslie Odom Jr and Germar Terrell Gardner] take a stand for themselves. Note the detailed garage in the background, one of many major sets. Courtesy of Warner Bros. ©2021