A version of this story about Edie Falco first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
She’s had a long and fruitful career in television, but 14-time Emmy nominee Edie Falco has never been very interested in playing a real person onscreen, or appearing in any kind of biopic. Until this season.
“I don’t know if I’ve stayed away from them on purpose, but I haven’t done them and they haven’t really come along,” said Falco, who was nominated for six Emmys for “The Sopranos” (winning three), another six (and one more win) for “Nurse Jackie,” one for “30 Rock” and now one for “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders.”
“I mean, I wouldn’t want to see a biopic about me, especially if it’s about a time in my life that was difficult,” she said.
In “The Menendez Murders,” Falco wears ’90s power suits and a tangled mop of blond curls for her role as Leslie Abramson, the fiery attorney who defended Erik Menendez on the charge that he and his older brother Lyle killed their parents with shotgun blasts in August 1989.
Abramson, who is now in her 70s, made it clear that she didn’t want to revisit that part of her life. (After separate mistrials, Erik and Lyle were tried together and convicted.) “That actually made it easier for me,” Falco said of Abramson’s refusal to cooperate with the production. “I had her words from the trial, I had an amazing hair and makeup and costume department to make me look like her, and I had everything I needed to work the same way I work on everything else — from my imagination.
“It makes it more complicated because this woman does exist, but I was not interested in imitating her.”
Falco had only followed the original 1992 Menendez trial peripherally — partly, she said, because “news coverage wasn’t then what it was now. It would be on the news, but I certainly didn’t obsess about it, and the details were scant. The way it was presented to me, they were two bratty kids from Beverly Hills who killed their parents for the money.”
But after making “The Menendez Murders,” which delves into the abuse Lyle and Erik suffered at the hands of their father, she said her opinion changed 180 degrees.
“It was an absolutely heartbreaking story about child abuse,” she said. “The parents were sort of passive characters in the original accounts, but our story is about them — what terrible damage was done to them, and what they proceeded to do to their children. That these kids functioned at all is sort of beyond my comprehension.”
She paused. “You’re not allowed to kill anybody, of course, but knowing what these kids had been through changed my whole idea of the case.”
Because “The Menendez Murders” is part of the “Law & Order” universe, in a way it brings Falco back to her earliest days as an actress, when she appeared on the flagship show of that long-running franchise. “But that puts me into a pretty large group,” she said with a laugh. “Every actor in New York has done ‘Law & Order.’”
And now it’ll bring her back to the Emmy Awards, where she’s been many times before.
“It can be fun,” she said of the ceremony. “I get to see a lot of people that I only see at these things. I assume we only exist in evening gowns.”
Read more from the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.