Also Credited As:Edith Falco
|Edith Falco on July 5, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York, USA|
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Edith Falco was born in Brooklyn, NY on July 5, 1963. She and her brothers and sister were raised in various towns on Long Island by bohemian parents Frankie, an artist and jazz musician, and Judith, who worked at a radio station and was active in local theater. From an early age, Falco trailed her mother to stage rehearsals and fell in love with the environment of the theater, taking field trips into nearby New York City whenever possible to see professional shows. Eventually she was added to the cast of several local productions, and when she reached Northport High School, she joined the drama group. She was now certain that all she wanted to do with her life was act. The faculty at the State University of New York was not as optimistic. At the school's Conservatory of Theater, Arts and Film, Falco joined a tightly-knit group of devoted performers, but was consistently overlooked for leading roles and even discouraged from pursuing an acting career by professors who were hung up on what they thought were her unremarkable looks and the sibilance in her speech. Bowed but unbroken, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1986 and followed her instincts to the New York stage.
Living in a tiny, kitchenless apartment downtown, Falco held down the requisite waitressing and retail jobs while embarking on a long journey towards professional acting. Off-off Broadway plays were seen by few audiences other than the participants' friends and roommates, while independent film ventures with fellow SUNY alums offered a bit of rent money and some festival attention. Her appealing, naturalistic style was notable from the start, playing a Long Island townie waitress in Hal Hartley's directorial debut "The Unbelievable Truth" (1989). The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, as was Hartley's follow-up, "Trust" (1990), in which Falco enjoyed a larger supporting role that showcased her talents. In 1992, Falco co-starred in SUNY buddy Nick Gomez's gritty, Brooklyn-set crime drama "Laws of Gravity," before landing her first recurring TV role as the strong-willed wife of an injured officer on NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street."
Falco's film career gained momentum with a small role in Woody Allen's theatrical send-up "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994) and Abel Ferrara's striking if uneven vampire film "The Addiction" (1995). She had a bit part in his post-Depression-era crime drama "The Funeral" (1996), and the following year, re-teamed with Nick Gomez in "Cost of Living" (1997), for which she earned a Best Actress Award from at the AFI Film Festival. Emerging as a recognizable character actress who brought a multi-dimensionality to her frequently typecast "no-nonsense" women, Falco began to appear in higher-profile fare including Morgan Freeman's "Hurricane" (1997), James Mangold's "Cop Land" (1997), and the TV pilot for "Fargo," an unrealized series based on The Coen brothers film in which Falco played lead Marge Gunderson.
That same year, when "Homicide" producer Tom Fontana launched the HBO prison drama "Oz," he invited Falco to join the cast, where she aptly played an overworked and understanding corrections officer for the duration of the series. Falco's rise in the big and small screen ranks coincided with increasing success onstage, and in 1996, she originated the role of the alcoholic, mentally unstable wife of a jazz musician in Warren Leight's semi-autobiographical "Side Man." After 15 years in the acting trenches, Falco truly broke through with widespread acclaim and financial stability in 1999. "Side Man" was promoted to Broadway, and Falco's challenging portrayal of a woman aging 40 years was recognized with a Theater World Award. She also landed her first major role in a mainstream Hollywood picture, supporting Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas in the disappointing drama, "Random Hearts" (1999). Continuing to score work, she played the title character - a disarming would-be movie star - in Eric Mendelsohn's acclaimed "Judy Berlin," which was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Buried somewhere in that work schedule were two weeks spent shooting a pilot for HBO's "The Sopranos." Given her prior experience and knowledge of the astronomical odds against pilots going to series, Falco remained cautiously aloof about the outcome. But against those odds, David Chase's series was the breakout hit of the year, widely praised for its textured, thematic writing style and film-quality production style that raised the expectations of what a TV show could accomplish. In keeping with the show's high standards, the cast was among the most respected on television and Falco stood out as a new breed of prime time actress. For six seasons, Falco navigated mafia wife Carmela Soprano through a lifestyle at odds with her religious beliefs, consistent marital infidelity from her husband, and the ever-present possibility of becoming a widow. Her naturalistic acting style helped the show's intimate, personal tone that propelled it beyond prior mafia portrait efforts. Falco was honored with an Emmy Award for the show's debut season and went on to earn a total of five Emmy nominations and three wins, six Golden Globe nominations and two wins, and six Screen Actors Guild nominations and two wins.
After enjoying 15 years of anonymity on New York streets, Falco's sudden fame took some getting used to, though the steady paycheck relieved a great deal of the pressure and her shooting schedule allowed her time to continue the stage work she loved. In 2000, she took "Side Man" to the London stage for five months, and the following year, returned to the West End to perform in Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues." In 2002, she and Stanley Tucci co-starred in Broadway's "Frankie & Johnny at the Claire de Lune," which broke box office records and was one of the most successful productions of the season. Another gift that fame afforded was the attention of acclaimed filmmaker John Sayles, who handpicked Falco to play a former aspiring actress sliding into despair as a coffee shop waitress in "Sunshine State" (2002). The Los Angeles Film Critics Association recognized her performance with a Best Supporting Actress award.
In 2004, Falco enjoyed an acclaimed starring role on Broadway in "'Night Mother," playing opposite Brenda Blethyn as a woman preparing her household affairs for her impending suicide. The same year the 41-year-old actress adopted a son, Anderson, she was sadly diagnosed with breast cancer. Falco was successfully treated for the illness and kept the news quiet until she had made a full recovery. She then returned to the indie film fold with Hal Hartley's "The Girl From Monday" (2005) and Jamie Babbit's disturbing "The Quiet" (2005). In 2006, Falco co-starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore as a child abduction activist in Joe Roth's "Freedomland" (2006). Meanwhile, HBO announced that the 2006-07 season of "The Sopranos" would be its last. Following the highly anticipated, over-analyzed, and frustratingly ambiguous series finale in June of 2007, Falco showed TV audiences her comedic side with a string of guest appearances as a congresswoman and love interest of TV executive Alec Baldwin on the NBC sitcom "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006- ). At the close of 2007, Falco received her final round of accolades for her work on "The Sopranos," receiving Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild nominations.
Falco returned to the regular primetime lineup with "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime, 2009- ), a moody, stylish dark comedy that effectively showcased Falco as a rather abrasive urban hospital worker whose troubling personal life includes a workplace affair and a prescription drug habit. The series was well-received following its debut in the spring of 2009, even amid outcry by some healthcare professionals over the title character's illegal activities. Despite the small amount of controversy, Falco found herself back in awards contention later that year when she earned nominations at both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards. In 2010, the role put Falco back into Emmy Award contention with a nod for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, which she promptly won and accepted with the humble but amusing declaration that she "wasn't funny." Her year ended on a high note when she was again nominated for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, before getting the chance for a second Emmy following a nomination in 2011.