Talk about getting into character.
For her role as Delores del Ruby, the tough-talking, whip-cracking leader of the cowgirl rebellion in Gus Van Sant's "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues," Lorraine Bracco took bullwhipping lessons in her backyard.
As Dr. Jennifer Melfi, the psychiatrist
who listens and counsels mob leader Tony Soprano
weekly on "The Sopranos," Bracco took
a lot of characteristics from her own sessions
of "talk therapy" and incorporated them
into Melfi. In her tumultuous past, which includes
three failed marriages and a custody battle that
led to personal bankruptcy and depression, Bracco
could have used some time with Dr. Melfi herself. The
very public divorce and custody battle with actor
Harvey Keitel finally gave Bracco sole custody
of their daughter, Stella.
Life was on the upswing but suddenly
everything hit her like a ton of bricks when she
was later diagnosed with clinical depression.
That was 1999. Now, the 52-year-old actress --
who chronicles her story in the candid, best-selling
book "On the Couch" -- feels alive again
and passionate. Reveling in the last season
of "The Sopranos," the Brooklyn-born
actress is beaming with determined optimism.
Despite a career spanning more than
two decades, including an Oscar nomination for
"Goodfellas," Bracco is not your stereotypical
star. But her "Goodfellas" role
led "Sopranos'" creator, David Chase,
to remember Bracco for his HBO mobster hit. Along
with her breakout role on "The Sopranos,"
Bracco has her own wine company. The bumps
seem to have smoothed out in her life, though
she still shows some true grit.
It was 1999 that you noticed your life was joyless
and you were diagnosed with depression?
Yes, it was when "Sopranos" came
out and was a huge success, my daughter had graduated
NYU and it was then when I said, "Oh my God,
I'm not really jumping for joy and why is that?"
Bankrate: Do you know what triggered the depression or was it an accumulation of circumstances?
We feel it was an accumulation of fighting and
flight mode, so that when everything kind of settled
down and was good, that's when I realized something
was wrong. I do think I had depression before
this point, though. I always said I lost
a year in denial, basically, not believing my
friend who said, "Lorraine, I think you should
go talk to somebody."
Bankrate: You've said that going
through all this actually helped you form the
character of Dr. Melfi. How do you think
your depression mirrors that of Tony Soprano?
I think it's different but I think a lot of the
things that Dr. Melfi says to Tony are very amusing
to me because I will be saying to myself. "Oh
my God, this is so good." I get a good
kick out of it. When I first started "talk
therapy" with my therapist, I basically said
I don't want my problems to lead my life -- I
want my dreams to lead my life. I want that
to happen for myself. I deserve that.