Falcone, who says she’s press shy but agreed to sit for an interview to promote Everest’s first film, Mother and Child, in theaters in May, notes that she worked hard to overcome the scars of her childhood—at times with a therapist she refers to as “my Jewish mother.” Still, at 40, her early struggles continue to influence many spheres of her life, from the way she’s raising her children (who sleep in her bed while she and Philip share an air mattress on the floor—“We’ve come full circle!” she quips) to how she spreads around her fortune. Growing up, she watched televised performances of New York City Ballet because, she says, “it helped me transcend my situation and go somewhere else.” Today she sits on the company’s board, and last year she chaired its spring gala.
“The experiences of her youth really affected her view of what access to culture and parks does for people who are not coming from a heavily advantaged background,” says actor Edward Norton, who became close with the Falcones through their joint work raising funds for the High Line, a park atop an abandoned railroad trestle on Manhattan’s West Side.
Falcone’s choice of film projects, in her new role as a producer, is also dictated largely by her history. Mother and Child, directed by Rodrigo Garcia and starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening and Kerry Washington, weaves together three stories about adoption, a subject that resonates with her. At 16, she discovered that the woman who had raised her was not her biological mother but an aunt. She has never met her birth mother and doesn’t know her whereabouts.
In keeping with the movie’s theme, a portion of Falcone’s take from Mother and Child will go to Inwood House, a charity that assists pregnant teens. The rest will be reinvested in Everest. It’s a model she plans to follow with future projects, including her next one, a Tom McCarthy film about a troubled young wrestler. “I’m not making any money out of it. I’m making zero,” says Falcone, who had invested in a handful of films before forming Everest in 2008. “I’m not even getting free dresses!”
It’s an unusual setup for a business but, as Falcone says, “everyone knows I don’t have to work.” Instead, she sees her involvement in movies as a way to both support the arts and raise awareness of issues that matter to her. By providing the necessary cash, she says, she can “keep the integrity of the film.” This goal might sound naively idealistic, but according to Garcia, it was one she met in her work on Mother and Child. “She wanted to make the best movie we could. The commercial prospects never worried her,” he says of Falcone, who saw dailies but let Garcia run with his vision, making only one visit to the Los Angeles set.