The untold truth of Edie Falco

Edie Falco is a veteran actress best known for her role as Carmela Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos. The role earned her critical praise, while four Emmy wins for outstanding lead actress helped validate her appeal — three wins from her drama work on The Sopranos and the other for her comedic chops on Nurse Jackie.

Still, things didn't come easily for Falco, who went through many personal struggles as a young adult up to motherhood. She also thought that she may never even get a job as an actress. Luckily, this TV star came out stronger through the darkness and gave the world her gifted acting. And though this private actress' relationship status is unknown, did you know she used to be involved with a former classmate who also became a famous actor?

Maybe you came here as a die-hard fan of The Sopranos and want to know what really happened in that famously controversial finale, or perhaps you just want to know more about this actress, who appears to still have a big career ahead of her. Either way, Falco has an incredible story that is sure to surprise you. We bring you the untold truth of Edie Falco.

Edie Falco had some pretty cool classmates

In 1984, Edie Falco graduated from the State University of New York at Purchase. As told by the Independent, Falco originally attended the school better known as Purchase College mainly for scholarship purposes and had no way of knowing what she would become. The later-famous alumni included the likes of Wesley Snipes, Parker Posey, and Stanley Tucci — but more on him later. This collective bunch of actors went on to be known as the "Purchase Mafia."

Falco's classmate, Hal Hartley, is a director and filmmaker. The actress explained to the Emmy Foundation that she was in several of Hartley's movies after the two graduated, which created other showbiz connections and eventually landed her a role on the HBO series Oz. From there, Falco auditioned for a project she thought was about singers — a little show called The Sopranos. "I read it and thought, 'I know exactly who this woman is, and I know I'll never get this part, because I know who gets cast in these Italian-American women roles and it's not me,'" she said. Of course, we all know what happened there, and years later, another friend from college gave Falco their neighbor's script, which turned out to be the Showtime series Nurse Jackie

Can we at Nicki Swift get in on some of this Purchase College magic?

All about that Stanley Tucci connection

In the 1980s, Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci both attended Purchase College. Looking back on her time at school, Falco told Vulture that Tucci was wildly popular on campus, but had just left the college when she began her studies. She explained that there were still posters of him all over the school "like the captain of the football team that they all still talk about." (Not unlike the 2018 Saturday Night Live skit about fans of the actor, appropriately called "Tucci Gang.")

Years later, the pair appeared together in the 2002 Broadway production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. In the show, Falco and Tucci both had to get undressed while on stage, according to The New York Times. Not long after the show's run, reports surfaced claiming that Falco and Tucci were in a relationship. Further still, Tucci was apparently already married to someone else during his romance with Falco. As Falco explained to The New York Times two years later, she and Tucci were indeed once together but had since separated. She said the actor was "back with his wife and kids," and when referring to her affair with Tucci, Falco admitted that there was "no way for that to be a good thing."

Edie Falco is a survivor

Edie Falco was diagnosed with breast cancer during her run on The Sopranos. As she explained to the Emmy Foundation, Falco was diagnosed one morning and had to be on set in the early afternoon to shoot a scene. She decided to keep her terrible news to only a few members of the cast and crew. "I didn't want anyone else to know," the actress said. "I'm not good with a lot of people going, 'How are you doing?' I just went about my day."

Falco continued working on The Sopranos during her treatments. The show's hair stylists made wigs and the producers gave her private trailer space to aid Falco through her difficulties. In an interview for NPR, Falco insisted that going right back to work was the best thing for her: "It helped me to just keep moving." While previously speaking with Parade, Falco credited her sobriety in assisting her with surviving her intense chemotherapy treatments during her battle with the disease. 

The actress' life after cancer

After going into remission, Edie Falco adopted her first child. In an interview with Arianna Huffington for a Fortune magazine event, the actress explained that prior to her cancer diagnosis, she never thought she would have kids, in part due to past failed relationships. Upon realizing she was going to survive this health scare, Falco said it was like a "light going on" and she seriously started to consider having children, before pal Rosie O'Donnell offered some adoption advice. 

Another inspiration for adopting children actually came from Falco's dog. As she told Parade, Falco and her dog, Marley, had a "kind of love [she] had never known." She went on to explain how strong she felt this owner and pet connection was, despite not actually being, of course, the biological mother of the dog, and said, "She made me realize I wanted to adopt children." Falco further clarified to Vulture that at 40 years old, she was single and "was clearer about wanting kids than about wanting a partner at the time."

Where you won't find Edie Falco

For a 2013 ad campaign by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Edie Falco appeared as a spokeswoman and urged families to stay away from the circus, citing alleged abuse to elephants by the Ringling Bros. Circus and Barnum & Bailey Circus companies. She has since continued to speak out against animal abuse in support of the non-profit by appearing in other campaigns. In an interview with Brief Take, Falco said her "heart is drawn to" working with PETA and other animal protection organizations.

A 2019 report by Page Six highlighted how Falco had continued her crusade against reported animal cruelty, this time in her birthplace of Brooklyn, N.Y. The publication cited a letter from Falco — which she wrote on behalf of PETA — that requested the end of fishing clinics. In these clinics, attendees would catch and release fish into the East River at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Falco claimed that the practice was ultimately damaging to the wildlife.

As Falco told Parade in 2017, she had been a vegetarian for 16 years and a vegan for eight months at the time of the interview.

The Sopranos was unwatchable for Falco

Despite The Sopranos being one of the most famous and influential TV series ever, its main actress has never seen all the episodes. After the show cemented itself in history, Edie Falco decided to rewatch it with co-star Aida Turturro — who played Janice Soprano. As Falco explained on the Bullseye with Jesse Thorn show, 20 years after the pilot episode aired, Falco and Turturro started watching from the very beginning ... but only made it four episodes in before deciding to stop: "We couldn't do it. It was just too much; it was too emotionally fraught, you know? We were all so young and we remember how nervous we were in the beginning." She concluded by admitting she didn't quite have a true perspective on the show compared to fans who'd watched the series.

As Falco emphasized to Uproxx, rewatching the show was just too much to handle. It was especially difficult to see herself alongside the deceased actor and star of the show, James Gandolfini.

Can you guess Edie Falco's religion?

Edie Falco is open about her religious beliefs in interviews. During an onstage chat with Arianna Huffington at Fortune magazine's Brainstorm Health Conference, Falco talked about being Buddhist. As the actress explained, she had been studying Buddhism for 25 years at the time of the 2019 interview, and said that because of her beliefs, her "life has changed for the better." She also talked about how meditation, rituals, and prayers had become a big part of her life.

How did The Sopranos star get into Buddhism? As Falco told Vulture, she saw a flyer on a telephone pole in New York City that was an advertisement for meditation classes. She remembered "it felt a little cult-y," adding that people at her first class were "smiling a little too much, and that scared [her]." This didn't matter, however, as she connected with the meditation teachings and transitioned into studying Buddhism.

Falco also talked to The Guardian about her Buddhist beliefs, especially the afterlife. She hoped that in accord with her religion, she will be reborn as another human, but clarified, "I hope it's not an actor next time."

College ignited Falco's destructive behavior

During a discussion at the Fortune Brainstorm Health Conference, Arianna Huffington talked with Edie Falco about the actress' previous struggle with addiction. Revealing that she was a recovered alcoholic, Falco explained that she went to college with other actors who would party and heavily drink — but she couldn't stop drinking once she left school. That, coupled with the fact that she came from family tree with a long line of addicts, Falco said, "It became clear pretty quickly that this already ... had a hold on me." She added that many of her friends got sober and showed her what a nonalcoholic lifestyle could be like. Falco confirmed that she always goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on her sobriety anniversary. At the time of this interview in 2019, Falco was 27 years sober.

Falco had quit drinking before filming The Sopranos, which made her feel like an outsider, she told New York Magazine. As the actress explained, much of the cast would go to wild parties. "What it really does," she said, "it makes me feel lonely." While the parties looked fun, Falco knew her tendencies and believed that attending would be "too dangerous."

Edie Falco's life as a struggling actress

While speaking with the Bullseye with Jesse Thorn show, Edie Falco said she actually got into Purchase College as a liberal arts student. However, after she was forced to go home to recover from mononucleosis and hepatitis during her freshman year, the future actress — who'd been observing a high school friend in the school's theater department — decided to audition.

At the end of her college career, Falco auditioned for casting producers, which landed her an agent and an acting job right after graduation. Her career choice seemed to be working out — or rather not, as Falco said, "I did this movie, and I didn't work for five years after that." According to Vulture, Falco would rollerblade to auditions. She revealed on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn that she struggled to pay rent and worked in restaurants to make ends meet. When she called her agent up one day, the receptionist informed Falco that he had left the industry to go into real estate — never bothering to tell the actress. 

Of course, Falco ended up landing movie and TV roles, which all led her towards the part of Carmela Soprano on The Sopranos. When she received the good news, she was mostly relieved that she could pay off her student loans, which was "beyond [her] wildest dreams."

Her Sopranos costume was a little much for Falco

For her role as Carmela Soprano on The Sopranos, Edie Falco loved how different the character was from her personality. Part of the role was the New Jersey mob wife look — that is, the stereotypical nails, makeup, and hair. "I'd be in [hair and makeup] for two hours between the hair curling and straightening and pinning and tons of make-up and the nails to put on and the jewelry, and the costume itself," she told NPR. "There was a whole order in which I had to do these things." 

We definitely have a sense of the amazing detail put into this fictional character — but there's one thing we left out. Falco said on the Bullseye with Jesse Thorn show that she auditioned for the role with a tan since it was summertime. The producers told her to keep the tan, so Falco kept putting on orange creams and going to tanning salons. "It got to be too much," she admitted, "so I slowly just started making her less tan, and nobody ever said anything." 

As for getting those "phenomenally long" fingernails glued on, Falco said it was "fun" to keep them on permanently in the beginning. However, in a scenario we sadly missed, the TV star found herself chopping wood at a cabin with the long nails on and decided to switch to temporary nails for the show.

Remembering Edie Falco's on-screen husband

James Gandolfini and Edie Falco played husband and wife for eight years on one of the most iconic TV shows ever, The Sopranos. When talking about Gandolfini — the actor, not his mob boss character — Falco told Vulture that the two had busy lives and never really talked outside of filming. However, once the cameras started rolling, Falco would immediately see her husband and not a fictional character. She explained that this separation from real-life small talk helped "keep the experience very real." As Falco summed up in an interview for the Emmy Foundation, this on-screen bond was "as real of a relationship as I've had." 

After Gandolfini's death in 2013, Falco remembered her time working with the actor. During her interview on the Bullseye with Jesse Thorn show, the titular host played a clip from The Sopranos featuring Falco and Gandolfini, which ended with the actor punching a hole in a wall. Falco said it was "surprisingly difficult to hear Jim's voice." She went on to explain how he ad-libbed the punching, noting that this spontaneity was one of the many reasons she enjoyed working alongside "Jimmy."

According to Rolling Stone, Falco gave a touching tribute to the late, great Gandolfini at the 2013 Emmy Awards ceremony.

How much does Edie Falco earn?

In addition to her critical acclaim, accolades, and steady work as a TV vet actress, Edie Falco is also making bank. 

For her role on The Sopranos, the New York Post reports that Falco was allegedly making roughly $500,000 per episode by the final season. Meanwhile, her next major role as the title character in the Showtime series Nurse Jackie reportedly earned Falco $175,000 per episode (via TV Guide). On top of her on-screen paychecks, Falco also appears to have made some cash from real estate, as reported by Variety, after selling her New York City property in 2012.

Her monetary success hasn't been lost on others. As Falco explained to The Wall Street Journal, certain people she was no longer in touch with "emailed her asking for money." Understandably, she noted that it's difficult to stay close with those who see her as an ATM.

So, what did Falco do with all this money? She once told Racked that she regretted once buying a trampoline for exercising because she had no space to store the not-so-mini thing in a New York apartment. Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Falco bought her own dress for the 2014 Golden Globes. With a reported net worth of $40 million to her name, she clearly had enough money to buy the red silk Lanvin dress, which likely cost several thousand dollars.