“I was born and raised on the island of Ischia, a thermal and volcanic island, to which I belong. It’s the place where I recharge myself with energy, where I am in contact with the elements of nature, magnificent and fearsome as only a volcanic island can be.”
Lucianna De Falco is your quintessential southern Italian woman, reflecting the magnificent land of her origins. Beautiful, passionate and exuding strength, she is a character actress who has four decades of roles under her belt. Whether she is on stage, the big screen or television, she has an undeniable commanding presence.
“I started my career as an actress thanks to the confidence my mother gave me as a child, De Falco explained. “She had a hair salon where I listened to the various idioms of her foreign clientele. I would asked her, "What language is it?" She always replied, "It's German" or It’s Russian,” making me believe that I could speak all the languages of the world, and thus giving me a sort of "communicative omnipotence" that made me choose this job to express myself better.”
The confidence she received as a child gave her the push she needed to pursue a career in acting. She began her journey working abroad with a traveling theater company. That experience gave her invaluable knowledge on how to quickly adapt to different situations and personalities. She would utilize that insight working with varied film directors, and she's worked with some of the biggest names in the business as well as young, independent filmmakers just starting out.
Her first cinema role came in 1990 in Lina Wertmüller’s “Saturday, Sunday and Monday” starring Sophia Loren. Her follow up came three years later in Marco Ferrari’s “Diario di un vizio” (Diary of a Vice). She appeared on television in the popular Italian soap opera “Un posto al sole” (A Place in the Sun) in 1996 before a string of hit films by Carlo Vanzina, Paolo Genovese, Luca Miniero, Ferzan Ozpetek, Stefano Incerti and the Manetti Brothers super successful Neapolitan musical, “Ammore e malavita” (Love and Bullets).
Although a seasoned actress, De Falco has an eternal quest for learning. “I continue to travel around the world and study. It’s important to pay attention to your goals and listen to your needs.” She studies with American acting coach Ivana Chubbuck who often holds workshops in Italy. De Falco credits Chubbuck as “the one who has helped me put some order in the drawers of emotions, to be able to use them to move and provoke other emotions.”
Known for her striking resemblance to Anna Magnani, directors have played on the similarities, giving De Falco the opportunity to interpret the style of a cinema icon. “The physical resemblance to Anna Magnani has been a constant especially at the beginning of my career, and I was scared of it. Then I started working, and about 10 years ago I finally played her in a short film where Magnani and Bette Davis meet, titled “The Big Lie.” I won several awards for my interpretation.”
Then in 2014, director Paolo Sorrentino cast De Falco as a famous actress channeling Magnani in his enchanting short film, “The Dream.” The acclaimed director was asked to make the film for the Italian luxury brand, Bulgari. Set in the company’s flagship store on Via Condotti in Rome, the story follows a group of lost souls stuck in purgatory as they spend their evenings in the shop. The star, played by Valeria Golino, happens to be walking by and spots her parents who passed away when she was a child. She follows them into the store and has a run-in with this mysterious famous actress who resembles Magnani. It was a fun and poignant role for De Falco because she actually wore Magnani’s fur and jewelry.
Watch De Falco in a scene from "The Dream".. Click here to watch the complete film.
Among De Falco’s latest roles is the short film “L’Attesa” (The Wait) by the young director Angela Bevilacqua, who we featured in our March issue. “L’Attesa” is the story of a frantic mother trying to locate her son after she hears about a terrorist attack in London where he is studying abroad. The 24-minute film is carried entirely by De Falco who gives a harrowing performance as a desperate mother doing everything she can think of to locate her son.
We’ll keep you updated on future stateside screenings of “L’Attesa.” In the meantime, watch Ferzan Ozpetek's "Facing Windows" on Amazon..
- Written by Jeannine Guilyard for the May issue of Fra Noi Magazine. Click here to subscribe.