The upcoming HBO miniseries Criminal Justice will see Robert De Niro taking over James Gandolfini’s role in the drama.
James Gandolfini died of a heart attack on June 19 during a vacation to Rome. He was found by his 13-year-old son, Michael, who found him unconscious around 10 p.m. on the bathroom floor of the Boscolo Exedra Hotel.
At the time of his death, James Gandolfini had already filmed the pilot for the crime drama, which is based on the BBC series of the same name.
The first five-episode season premiered on June 2008 on BBC One, and the second season premiered on October 5, 2009. The series received positive reviews and won several awards.
Robert De Niro replaces the Sopranos star an ambulance-chasing lawyer named Jack Stone. James Gandolfini will keep a posthumous executive producer credit on the miniseries. The first season of Criminal Justice will be based on the first season of the BBC version, which focused on a man who goes home with a female stranger, wakes up to find her stabbed to death, and is accused of the murder. In the HBO version, now set in New York City, the suspect is Pakistani and is accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side. Jack Stone finds himself in over his head when he takes the case.
According to Deadline, it was unclear if HBO would proceed with Criminal Justice after James Gandolfini’s death. But because of his commitment to the project, the network decided to go forward with the series in his honor. The website also said that director Steven Zaillian and HBO set about recasting the role and had only person on their list to replace James Gandolfini: 70-year-old Robert De Niro.