Edie Falco Likens Acting with 'Soulmate' James Gandolfini to 'Two Kids Playing in the Sandbox'

Edie Falco starred on The Sopranos as Carmela, the wife of James Gandolfini's character Tony

Edie Falco and James Gandolfini
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Edie Falco is reflecting on the bond she shared with her late costar and onscreen husband James Gandolfini.

Falco, 58, acted alongside Gandolfini through all six seasons of The Sopranos, playing Carmela Soprano, a fan favorite and the wife of Tony Soprano (Gandolfini). Her late costar died in 2013 at age 51 after suffering a heart attack in Rome. Nearly a decade after his death, Falco remembered Gandolfini's legacy and their relationship in a Sunday interview with The New Yorker.

"We had such a strangely specific, similar way that we work, and a similar background. I don't know how to explain this," she said of working with Gandolfini. "We were just really regular middle-class, suburban kids that were never supposed to become famous actors."

Edie Falco and James Gandolfini - The Sopranos
Barry Wetcher / © HBO / Courtesy: Everett Collection

The stars were born within years of each other — he in 1961, and she in 1963 — and grew up in the greater New York area. Falco is from Brooklyn, while Gandolfini was raised in New Jersey.

The actress suspected that Gandolfini was just as surprised by the show's early success as she was, explaining, "My interpretation is that the whole time, he was, like, What the hell is going on? I remember, when we got picked up for the second season, he said to me, 'Yeah, well, I just have no idea what the hell we did, but we've got to try to do it again.' And I said, 'I hear you. I don't know. We'll figure something out.' "

In Falco's eyes, she and her costar both approached their roles in the David Chase hit with an upbeat approach that made work fun.

"He was totally un-actor-y, and was incredibly self-deprecating, and he was a real soulmate in that regard. We did not spend a lot of time talking about the scripts," she said. "It was like when you see two kids playing in the sandbox, completely immersed in their imaginary world. That's what it felt like acting opposite Jim."

Falco is not the only Sopranos cast member to remember Gandolfini in such high regard. Steven Van Zandt, who played Silvio Dante on the series, told Today in 2019 that working with Gandolfini improved his own performances.

"As I've said a thousand times, you do a scene with Jimmy Gandolfini, you walk away a better actor," Van Zandt said.

In a tribute posted to Instagram last month, Sopranos star Michael Imperioli marked what would have been Gandolfini's 60th birthday.

"Today I am reminded how fortunate I am to have acted beside you more than I ever did (or ever will, most likely) with anyone else. What a privilege," Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti, wrote. "Thank you for the friendship, generosity and kindness."

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