Lorraine Bracco is not only an accoladed actress, but also the author of a new health book. (Photo: Getty)
I first met Lorraine Bracco in 1990, when I did her makeup for the cover of Interview magazine. She had been a model for years and acted in French films, but at the time, she was getting noticed for her breakout role in Goodfellas. Lorraine was a kick to be around. She was warm and funny, with a wicked laugh. We’ve been friends ever since.
Lorraine is probably best known for her role as Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist in The Sopranos, earning her countless Emmy nominations and critical raves. She held her own opposite her good friend James Gandolfini. It was his sudden death in 2013, along with her parents dying nine days apart, that inspired Lorraine to take her health seriously. Then in her mid-50s, she teamed up with nutritionist Lisa Davis for a liver cleanse and guidance on changing her eating and exercise habits. She took off 35 pounds and has kept it off, proving that it’s never too late to start getting healthy. Lorraine has shared how she did it in her new book, To the Fullest.
Lorraine Bracco’s new book, To the Fullest. (Photo: Rodale)
Bobbi Brown: I’ve known you for so long. I think the first time I did your makeup was for Interview magazine in the early 90s.
Lorraine Bracco: I remember because it was the first cover Ingrid Sischy and Sandy Brant did for Interview. My sister found a copy of that the other day and sent it to me. It’s unbelievable. I remember Julian Schnabel said to me, “Whoever did your makeup, you should get their name, because you never looked better.”
That’s so nice.
So I remembered that name Bobbi Brown.
It’s so funny how we’ve been so intertwined throughout the years. Honestly, I owe you so much, because anytime I ever asked you anything, whether it was “Please be in my book” or “Come to a party,” you always said “Yes.”
I came when I could. I think you have a great voice for women. I think your message is clean, smart and bright — and it’s not fussy.
I remember you once came to one of my book parties, and you walked in the door without a stitch of makeup on. You had just gotten back from some vacation. Your hair was in a ponytail. You looked stunning. I don’t know if you remember that.
I don’t remember that and, you know, I always believe a little cheek, a little lip, and a little eye is good, which I believe I learned from you.
That’s so nice. I’ve learned a lot from you, too, over all these years. And now you’re a grandma, I can’t believe it. Congratulations.
Oh, my goodness, it’s the greatest thing ever. You’re going to love being a grandmother.
That’s what I hear. People even say it’s better than when you have your own kids.
I will attest to that!
Does she call you grandma, or do you have another name?
She calls me Flower instead of Grandma or Nana.
I love that. You do look so good for a grandma! What are you doing to look so great? What beauty treatments work for you?
I know you’ve also recently done a lot of lifestyle changes, too.
Nutritionist Lisa Davis put me on a liver detox cleanse that jump-started me to eating really clean. I kept it up, and I lost 35 pounds. I’ve also been working out and doing Pilates.
Out of everything that you did, what do you think had the most impact?
It was a combo of changes — no refined sugars, no processed foods, gluten, or dairy. With that said, the severe restrictions were during an initial liver cleanse, but I kept up with eliminating most of those things from my diet. I’m not so strict, however, that I don’t occasionally indulge in some cheese or dessert, but I’ve kept the weight off going on five years now. My relationship to food is completely different than before.
Do you not drink alcohol anymore?
No, I do. Saturday nights I have a standing reservation at Nobu.
So you’re only drinking one night a week?
I drink lychee martinis. I started with one and I am definitely up to two. I’ve been good with that. I’ve really made a huge change in my food, and it has made a huge difference. I have so much more energy now. I don’t hurt. I don’t ache. I mean, if I ache, it’s a muscle, because I’ve done too many sit-ups. It’s not having too much sex, I’ll tell you that. That’s a different story.
That’s funny. But obviously you’re not eating bagels and muffins, so what do you eat to make you full?
I eat a lot of quinoa, which is a protein. I have it lunch, dinner, and breakfast. I make it all different ways. For breakfast, I do it with blueberries and some fruit. I’ll eat a deviled egg. I do a lot of roasting. I roast everything I can possibly find. I’ll throw it in a bowl with some good olive oil and some salt and pepper and throw it on a piece of parchment paper, and I’ll have that with a pounded piece of chicken or a piece of steak. That’s what I eat — a protein, a veggie, quinoa … some hummus, if I feel like I’m hungry. I eat more in the morning and in the afternoon than I do at night. I try for light food at night.
Do you eat fruit?
Yes, I eat a lot of fruit, yes. I’ll eat a bowl of berries. You know, I’ll talk to my food. I think, what will this cake give me? Well, it will give me the satisfaction of the five minutes of eating it; it will taste good; and I will enjoy it. But, tomorrow morning, What is it giving me? Nothing, it’s giving me no nutritional value. It’s not giving me any energy, and it’s going to take me God knows how much to work it off my belly. I’ll look at my bowl of beautiful berries, and I’ll go, Wow, OK, so I get antioxidants. That’s good for me. I need that. It’s going to give me energy. I’m not going to feel sluggish. So, I often do the talk. Will I occasionally take a bite of something? Yes. But, in the long run, and most of the time, I will choose the healthy dish.
What really led you to this? Did you just one day say “OK, I’m ready.”
My parents passed nine days apart. They were ill for a long time. They had all different kinds of things — their bodies were just falling apart. It was really hard to watch them suffer. Also Jimmy Gandolfini’s sudden death. I had already started to lose weight and be clean before Jimmy’s death, but that really shook me to my core.
Were you completely surprised?
Yes, because Jimmy also had been on a really, really great path. His career was taking off. He was remarried and had a beautiful life. He had a baby girl who was not even a year old yet. He was happy, Jimmy, and that was really the thing that kind of killed me. He was also a decade younger than me.
I was like, wow. You know, watching my parents suffer, and then knowing that, really, somebody close to you could die like that in a minute, I decided I am going to do everything now to prevent illness. I want well-being. I want to have a good life. I want to be around, and I want energy. I don’t want to live until I’m 90 if I’m sick.
There are so many women — and men — our age who are looking for something that works to feel better. Men are realizing, too, that we can have an incredible, amazing life if we are healthier. Being youthful isn’t about overdoing your face, it’s about having a body that works well.
I agree. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. I always say, it’s a slow and steady race. You can’t start quickly losing 15 pounds in 10 days. It doesn’t work that way. It’s got to be slow and steady. The cleanse really kick-started me off into eating clean. I’ve been reading labels, which I never did before. There’s sugar in everything — everything! — and cancer loves sugar.
I think your book is going to do really well and inspire people. So what about your day job? What are you working on now in terms of acting?
I’m back on Rizzoli & Isles on TNT, which is a lot of fun for me. It’s going to start back in June. And for the moment they own me!
So, no movies in the pipeline?
No, I don’t want to work so hard anymore.
I want to summer with the baby. That’s my new love right now.
That’s a good priority. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Lorraine. It’s always great to talk to you.
You, too, Bobbi! Thank you!