Lucianna De Falco: Southern Born, World Bred

Lucianna De Falco is your quintessential southern Italian woman. 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.

Known for her striking resemblance to Anna Magnani, De Falco describes her career as “very transversal.” Working abroad in theater during the early days gave her invaluable experience that she would utilize with varied 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. She appeared on television in the popular Italian soap opera Un posto al sole 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 musical Ammore e malavita.

I met De Falco at the 2019 edition of the Rome Independent Film Festival where she presented the short film L’Attesa with the young director Angela Bevilacqua. 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 running out of options.

Curious about this forceful actress and the powerful performance I had just witnessed, I asked De Falco about her life and work.

Where were you born?

I was born and raised on the island of Ischia, a thermal and volcanic island, to which I belong and which is very similar to me. I go back often. 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.

When did you realize that you wanted to be an actress?

I started my career as an actress thanks to the confidence my mother gave me as a child. 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.

Did you study acting?

Yes, I continue to travel around the world and study. It’s important to pay attention to your goals and listen to your needs. I’ve attended the workshops held by my friend Julie Stanzak, one of Pina Bausch's dancers, for about ten years. For the last five years, I’ve studied with (American acting coach) Ivana Chubbuck whenever she's been in Italy. She is currently 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.

Your style is very intense, and the similarities to Anna Magnani are strong. Does she influence you as an actress?

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 a few years ago, I shot a spot for Bulgari with Paolo Sorrentino, and there was this similarity to Magnani and it was even more amazing because I wore her fox and her jewelry.

De Falco's most recent role is opposite Christian De Sica, Carlo Buccirosso and Gian Marco Tognazzi in De Sica's 2019 Sono Solo Fantasmi. Click here to watch The Dream by Paolo Sorrentino. 

-Written by Jeannine Guilyard for the May 2020 issue of Fra Noi Magazine.