De Niro replaced Gandolfini on the drama after “The Sopranos” veteran’s sudden death in Rome last June. The seven-part miniseries was thrown briefly into limbo by Gandolfini’s death, and De Niro would have been one of the most celebrated film actors to turn his attention to the small screen.
Now Turturro, praised for his role in Coen brothers films like “The Big Lebowski,” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” will take on a role that has previously belonged to two other major actors.
No one has seen De Niro or Gandolfini in the role — HBO will not air the pilot that was shot with Gandolfini — but audiences will no doubt imagine how the character might have been different as interpreted by the other men.
Turturro stars in the new film “Fading Gigolo,” in which he directed a cast that includes himself and Woody Allen.
“Criminal Justice” is co-written and executive produced by Richard Price (“The Wire”) and Steven Zaillan (“Schindler’s List”). It is based on the BBC series of the same name. Gandolfini, who was among the series’ executive producers, will remain posthumously as an executive producer.
Peter Moffat, who created the BBC series, is also executive producing, with Jane Tranter, Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders. Zaillian is directing. Garrett Basch is producing.