Shortly before his untimely death, James Gandolfini was poised to make a return to HBO in the limited series Criminal Justice. The actor’s passion project was put in limbo after he passed, but HBO has now found a way to move forward with the miniseries and honor Gandolfini’s legacy. Creator/producer Steven Zaillian and HBO worked hard to find a replacement that would befit a man of Gandolfini’s talent, and now that Robert De Niro has agreed to take over the role. The crime story takes place in New York City and revolves around an ambulance-chasing attorney who gets in over his head when he takes on the case of a Pakistani accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side. Hit the jump for more.
The lawyer role is central to the story of Criminal Justice and is the one that Gandolfini had earmarked for himself. Deadline reports that production will now move forward on the seven-episode miniseries in March, with Gandolfini remaining onboard as an executive producer. Zaillian has been working on the project for years and will be directing the first hour, with offers currently out to other directors to helm the subsequent installments. Riz Ahmed is set to star as the accused, with Bill Camp, Payman Maadi, and Poorna Jagannathan also set to star.
Gandolfini was supposed to begin filming on Criminal Justice when he returned from Rome, but sadly that never happened. De Niro was apparently the one and only choice to take over the role, and graciously he agreed to sign on. Criminal Justice is based on the BBC series created by Peter Moffat. Richard Price penned this US version.