Now you can catch her on the big screen in the new movie, "Assault on Precinct 13." In it, she plays a sassy precinct secretary who has to work on New Year's Eve, just as the station is about to close its doors for good.
"It was definitely the cast and the fact the director had never seen 'The Sopranos,' " that attracted her to the film, de Matteo tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm.
"is the king," de Matteo says.
Though it can be considered a re-make of the John Carpenter cult classic, she describes her film as "not very much like the original. We opened up to a whole lot of other things." What she likes best is that it is "not some slick Hollywood action film," but done like an old-fashioned action film, she says.
Playing the part was like a vacation to the actress, because she didn't have to cry as she often did in the mobster drama, she says. But while she was shooting "Precinct 13," she recalls, she was not at her best.
"I had strep throat, 104 fever, scratched cornea, a black eye," she says. The scratched cornea was from a hug she got from one of the producers on the set of NBC's "Joey."
Asked if, for "Precinct," she requested a "no-kill" clause in the contract, De Matteo says, "I don't know what the ending is. You'll have to see it to see the ending."
Hopefully, it won't be as it was in "The Sopranos" where her body was never found. People, she notes, are still curious whether or not her beloved character Adriana made it alive or not.
"They don't care about Joey. They only care about whether or not I got killed," de Matteo says, "She was a good girl. I liked her, too."
As to whether or not she will be back in the show in a dream sequence, she says she is "sort of" still under contract. "There's always the possibility."
For now, de Matteo is giving comedy a shot, using the same kind of character. "I loved that character so much that I figured, 'OK, I'll do it.' And it is a whole different medium because it is a whole different thing. I knew who the character was; I knew how she dressed, but it's very different. It's a 9-to-5 job."
As for her personal life, it was rumored she did not want to get married.
"I think I joke around sometimes in some interviews," she says. "But I don't know if I'll ever get married. I don't know. It's hard to keep a relationship when you're never around, running around. If I found the right guy, I think I would get married. Maybe. I just feel like it's just a contract. Why sign any more contracts, really?"
Fast facts about Drea de Matteo:
- Born in Queens, N.Y. on Jan. 19, 1973
- Graduated from New York University Tisch School of the Arts film program in 1995. She took acting classes with the intention to become a better director. But she received overwhelmingly positive feedback in these classes and by the time she graduated, she had herself a manager.
- In 1997, she had guest appearance role on "Swift Justice," a short-lived drama on UPN. The following year, she was seen on "Feds," a short-lived drama on CBS.
- In 1999, she opened the rock 'n' roll clothing store, Filthmart with boyfriend Michael Sportes, and now just business partner, in Manhattan's East Village.
- It was the same year, that she was cast for a small role playing restaurant hostess in the pilot of "The Sopranos." But de Matteo played the part with such memorable flair that she was soon written in as a fixture on the show. Her part was solidified as a series regular as Christopher fiance in 2000. De Matteo had carved out the niche of the sexy bad girl with a heart of gold.
- She appeared in several indie films in 1999 and 2000 including: "The Gentleman from Boston" and in 2001 landed the role of a Puerto Rican drug lord in the film "R Xmas," directed by noted indie director Abel Ferrara, which premiered at Cannes.
- Also in 2001, she played the alcoholic ex-wife of Hugh Jackman in "Swordfish" starring John Travolta and Halle Berry.
- In 2002, she appeared as a gang leader's girlfriend in "Deuces Wild," a 1950s mob drama featuring Debbie Harry, Norman Reedus, Balthazhar Ghetty, Brad Renfro, Frankie Muniz and Fairuza Balk.
- In 2004, she was cast in the role of Joey Tribbiani's sister on NBC's "Friends" spinoff series, "Joey." Will play Gina, a hairdresser who lives with her son.
- It was also in 2004 that she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role on "The Sopranos."
Received Screen Actors Guild for Ensemble in TV Drama Series for "The Sopranos" (1999). Shared with Sopranos Cast.
Received Screen Actors Guild for Ensemble in TV Drama Series for "The Sopranos" (2000). Shared with Sopranos Cast.
Received Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama for "The Sopranos" (2004).