Falling for Falco: Edie's on Broadway and Back with 'The Sopranos.' A Candid Talk with the Actress-And a Guide to All That Autumn Has to Offer

By Giles, Jeff | Newsweek, September 16, 2002 | Go to article overview

Falling for Falco: Edie's on Broadway and Back with 'The Sopranos.' A Candid Talk with the Actress-And a Guide to All That Autumn Has to Offer


Giles, Jeff, Newsweek


Byline: Jeff Giles

The Broadway revival of "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" has received such warm reviews and sold so many tickets that no one could plausibly argue that the production is cursed. Still, there has been weirdness. On the afternoon that this reporter saw the play, there was such a loud and exuberant Dominican Day parade outside the theater that it was impossible to concentrate for 20 minutes--despite the fact that Frankie and Johnny were coupling in the nude. "You were there on Sunday?" says the woman who plays Frankie, currently on a break from being the woman who plays Carmela. She groans comically. "I was screaming! And we ended up skipping huge chunks of the play. Just by accident. Horrible, horrible." It turns out that there was also a night when an audience member had a seizure, and a night when it rained in Frankie's apartment. "There was a downpour in the middle of the stage. There was a leak in the theater and they just never had it fixed. Not only was it raining, it was splattering all over me. Stan"--that would be Stanley Tucci--"finally said, 'You should talk to your landlord about this leak.' Everyone cracked up." Rain in the theater. The actress laughs fondly. "This is f--in' Broadway?"

And this, God bless her, is Edie f--in' Falco. As of Sept. 15, while the actress is baring her body and soul onstage, she'll also be back on "The Sopranos," encased in the makeup, big hair and acrylic nails that have always been her armor, checking her reflection in the oven door when Furio swings by and trying to persuade her husband, Tony, to do some estate planning before he gets whacked. The best "Sopranos" episodes have been like miniature movies. The first few episodes of the new season are more scattered and ungainly. But riveting story lines spring up everywhere--Chris becomes acting capo while still shooting heroin between his toes, Adriana befriends a woman Chris believes is a lesbian and is in fact an FBI agent, Meadow gets a therapist who's clearly going to be 10 kinds of trouble--and there's a palpable, creeping sense that the water is rising against both Carmela's family and Tony's.

Falco's work on "The Sopranos" has won her every award that isn't nailed down--and inspired the producers of "Frankie and Johnny" to launch a revival simply because they wanted to be in the Edie Falco business. In an interview in her small, bright dressing room, she seems warm and unaffected. Her dog, Marla, barks at the door, as if something's trying to get in. "I'm sorry," says the actress, 39. "She thinks she's protecting me." From what? "I couldn't tell ya." Falco talks about painful stretches of her life with surprising candor and ease--"I've been in therapy a bazillion years"--but it is clear that there's far more that she'll never discuss. In "Frankie and Johnny," she plays a guarded, wounded woman trying to love a guy who may well be delusional. Asked if she herself would trust him, Falco allows as how she might not, because she understands life and relationships a bit better than Frankie. "I've been through a lot," she says. But Frankie's been through a lot, too. There isn't even a pause: "Not as much as me."

Falco grew up on New York's Long Island, her dad a graphic artist and former jazz drummer, her mom an actress who did local theater. She studied acting at the State University of New York at Purchase. "The other women were pretty ingenue types, and I always got the weirdo parts," she says. "And, yes, I took it personally and my feelings were hurt. The third year we did [our first big] production. We did 'Time of Your Life' and all the girls wanted to be the lead. So we all auditioned and the cast list was put up and I got the part of Lorene Smith. She had, like, two lines, and the only description was 'an unattractive woman'."

By graduation, Falco had an agent and some work, but her career didn't gel. "There were some horrible years," she says. "You go to college and you go off and do plays and then when the dust clears, you are left alone in your crazy apartment at 4 in the afternoon with no job, no prospects and a waitressing shift to go to. …

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