Edie Falco Talks Nurse Jackie and Carmela Soprano

Interviews with a point.
April 6 2012 7:00 AM

A Conversation With Edie Falco

On Nurse Jackie, Carmela Soprano, and breaking an addiction to work.

(Continued from Page 1)

Slate: As an actor, how do you convey a shell like the one Jackie Peyton has constructed?

Falco: Well, it’s actually fun, because it’s so far from who I really am. Jackie’s kind of a hard-ass. She believes that, and the people around her believe it. She talks to people in a way that I would never talk to people. She conducts her life in a way that I never would. She doesn’t care how she’s perceived. She’s not interested in being liked, and that’s very freeing for someone who is not like that.

Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton.
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in Nurse Jackie

Photograph by David M. Russell/Showtime.

Slate: Back in your Sopranos days, you said that putting on the fingernails was what allowed you to become Carmela—once they were on, you knew what to do. Is there an equivalent for Jackie?

Falco: With everything that you do, once the costume is on, and you’re in the pretend hospital, and you’re there with your co-workers, it all sort of snaps into place: Who you are, what it feels like, who these people are to you. If I had to dress up as Nurse Jackie and show up at the Soprano house, I imagine that I would be deeply confused.

Slate: Who do you think would win a fight between Jackie and Carmela?

Advertisement

Falco: Carmela, because Nurse Jackie’s traveling as a lone soldier. Carmela’s got some serious firepower behind her. If Jackie’s smart, she’ll just stay away from Carmela.

Slate: The bulk of your TV career has been on premium cable, which has the obvious advantage of giving you these roles that I can’t imagine existing on network television, but it does mean that you’re seen by a lot fewer people. Are you aware of that? Are you concerned by it?

Falco: I haven’t thought about that much. I have kind of liked the idea that people have to choose to see the stuff that I do. Especially if a kid is looking through the channels and comes to something that I’ve done—which oftentimes means bad language or subject matter that’s not for kids—that would upset me, so I like the idea that people have to make the choice to see this particular show.

It’s a very complicated issue, this fame thing—I was not really cut out for it. There are some really fantastic things about it, but it’s difficult for a private person like myself. If it helps that fewer people see me, then I’m exactly where I want to be.

Slate: You won an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for Nurse Jackie. Do you think the show is a comedy?

Falco: No, not really. Like so many shows, it’s got a bit of everything. I don’t really understand why things are characterized the way they are. I suppose from a business point of view, it has to be done. Will and Grace was a comedy. I Love Lucy was a comedy. I don’t know what you call this particular genre.

Slate: What’s your favorite TV show? Do you watch much TV?

Falco: No, I watch the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden. I don’t watch a lot of television. Right now I’m watching House Hunters and House Hunters International, which is the most traveling I’ve done in a long time.

Slate: That show makes everyone want to be a therapist. “Dude, you do not need six bathrooms.”

Falco: Right. It’s like The Newlywed Game. You think, “The way these people talk to each other—I give that marriage 10 minutes.”

This interview has been edited and condensed.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 18 2014 6:00 AM All Shook Up My 11-year-old has been exploring herself with my “back massager.” Should I stop her?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?