Corey Stoll on the Enduring Appeal of ‘The Sopranos’
Corey Stoll, the star of Showtime’s Billions does double duty this fall as Junior Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark—the long-awaited film prequel to The Sopranos. We caught up with the actor to get the low down—but first, the basics.
- Best foreign word? Gesamtkunstwerk.
- Superhero crush? Psylocke.
- Earliest memory? Getting into the beer and pickles in my parents’ rented cabin in the Adirondacks.
- Last Amazon buy? BB-8 backpack for my son on his first day of 1st grade.
Men’s Journal: Uncle June is Uncle June. How’d you approach the prequel version of a TV icon like Junior Soprano?
Corey Stoll: I started by watching all 86 episodes of The Sopranos for the third time. I only had a couple months to do that, which I don’t recommend. It’s brilliant—and brutal. You need to take that show in manageable doses. The dialect coach also compiled all of Junior’s jokes for me, which was helpful.
You get the jokes, you get the guy.
They’re a great way to get into character. Junior’s jokes are crazy sexist and racist, but he’s got this odd rhythm and charm for such a misanthrope. I’d get those rhythms into my body, then let go and just play the scene.
The Sopranos are as unevolved as it gets. Why are they so likable?
Part of it may be that they’re such a close-knit community. So many of us are missing that. Say what you want about them, they’re super tight and it gives their lives meaning. I heard there’s been a huge resurgence of interest in The Sopranos during the pandemic.
I should probably get to Hamlet at some point. But Macbeth is hard to beat in terms of exploring all the extremes of one personality.
Is your son a Yellowjacket fan or an Ant-Man fan? Or is he playing it safe with Shazam?
He loves his Ant-Man toys but hasn’t seen the movie. He’s a little young. I’m curious to see how that goes.
Even though paternal loyalty may pose an ethical dilemma for him?
Hey, it’s fun to root for the bad guy.
Which New York do you love more, 1980s or 2020s?… Let’s say 2019.
You always look back with rose-colored glasses. Every day something else becomes an H&M or Citibank here, but now you can bike everywhere. I think change is what keeps New York so compelling—and tragic.
Who are you most known for around town? Peter Russo or is billionaire Michael Prince gaining ground?
Peter Russo still gets familiar looks. People also recognize me from The Strain and Hemingway from Midnight in Paris.
West Side Story or Sound of Music?
West Side Story. Hands down.
You’re Lt. Schrank in the filmed remake out in December. Ever think you’d be in a Steven Spielberg musical?
I thought maybe a Spielberg movie. Not a musical.
He seems nice. What’s Steve really like?
Nice. He gave me cookies. The nicest cookies I’ve ever had.
Where are you now, and where are you headed?
I’m in my basement gym in Brooklyn. I’m gonna run upstairs, take a shower, then head to the Billions set.
Is being a billionaire all it’s cracked up to be?
It is if your character’s last name is Prince. I wouldn’t do well with it. I could do $50 million. Any more is pure guilt.