Robert De Niro Will Take Over James Gandolfini’s Last Role In ‘Criminal Justice’

Earlier this year, “The Sopranos” star James Gandolfini had been set to return to HBO in “Criminal Justice,” a miniseries based upon the BBC original. However, Gandolfini’s sudden demise in June put the future of the project in question.

However, Deadline is reporting that screen legend Robert De Niro has been signed to play the role originally portrayed by Gandolfini in the pilot. De Niro’s character is “an ambulance-chasing New York City attorney… who gets in over-his-head when he takes on the case of a Pakistani [man] accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side.” 

Because Gandolfini’s character only appeared in the final scene of the pilot, only minor reshoots will be needed to fit De Niro into that episode. The rest of the main cast, Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp, Payman Maadi and Poorna Jagannathan will all return for the remaining six episodes of the “Criminal Justice” miniseries. 

According to the Deadline report, De Niro was the first and only choice made by HBO and producer Steven Zaillian to carry on the role originally meant for Gandolfini. As a further tribute, Gandolfini will still be credited as an executive producer on the miniseries. 

This will mark De Niro’s first major role on television, as he has primarily been known for appearing in movies, with several classics to his name including Raging Bull, The Godfather Part II, Cape Fear and Taxi Driver. More recently, De Niro was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Silver Linings Playbook

“Criminal Justice” is expected to resume production in March. A broadcast date has not yet been announced.