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

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 23 2014 1:51 PM Is This the ISIS Backlash We've Been Waiting For?
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.