Playing the defense lawyer in Law & Order, True Crime: The Menendez Murders opened Edie Falco’s eyes to the complex and heartbreaking nature of this high-profile and tragic case.
“There’s quite a few more details to the story than we were made aware of,” Falco told PEOPLE at the PaleyFest Fall TV Previews screening in Los Angeles on Monday. “It makes me sad that they weren’t included in the trial, and that people feel the way they do about this situation with knowing actually so little about it. ”
Falco plays Leslie Abramson, the defense attorney to Erik and Lyle Menendez, who in 1989 fatally shot their wealthy parents in the den of their Beverly Hills mansion. Jose, a 45-year-old Hollywood executive, was shot point-blank in the back of the head. Kitty, 47, was shot 15 times, including once in the face. At the time, Lyle was 21 and Erik was 18.
The brothers were eventually convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Though Falco was not able to meet with the Menendez brothers or Abramson — and admits that she knew very little about them before taking on this role — she researched the case and watching Abramson’s on-camera appearances.
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“I was aware of the case as it was going on, but sort of peripherally,” Falco told an audience as part of a panel after the screening. “I didn’t even know her as a major player. One of the main things I like about her is how seriously she takes her job. How good she is at it. How devoted she is to her clients to give the best defense possible, and I naively was surprised to learn that she doesn’t always believe that they are innocent, but it is her job to represent them and — not this case in particular — but it’s her job to represent these people fairly regardless of her feelings about it.”
Falco appreciated that Abramson showed compassion toward her clients in court.
“She took the unpopular position that these people that she is representing — on some level, regardless of what they are accused of — are human,” Falco said. “And I think one of the things she did was humanize them just as simply as by touching them when they were on trial, and I think it perturbed people. People don’t like to live in that grey area. There are good people and bad people, and I think she was trying to let people imagine that maybe you don’t always know which is which all the time.”
In regards to the verdict, Falco hesitated to comment on whether or not she thinks the brothers deserve to be behind bars.
“I’m very reluctant to get into that,” she said.
But she did say she felt disappointed about a lot of the details she came across while working on this project.
“I’m not really a lawyer, so there’s all kinds of things that I don’t know,” she said. “There’s quite a few more details to the story than we were made award of. And yes, it’s definitely about the Menendez murders, but it’s about … a lot of trials in general, where you feel like you can make a snap judgment because you’ve been fed things, when in fact there’s so much more to it, and there are real people behind this stuff. “
Law & Order, True Crime: The Menendez Murders premieres Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.