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Emmy-nominated Edie Falco chats about the happy road from Carmela to 'Nurse Jackie'

August 17, 2010 |  6:00 am

Getprev-5 Edie Falco will stroll down the Emmy red carpet for the eighth time as a nominee Aug. 29. But this time she won't be flanked by her  Sopranos mob family. The highly regarded actress, who has won three Emmys, is in the comedy race for her lead role in Showtime's "Nurse Jackie," which is also nominated for outstanding comedy series.

It's a distinction she doesn't take for granted. Falco knows it's challenging for actors to land more than one career-defining role, and Carmela Soprano could well have been the role of her lifetime.

But fans have started to call her "Jackie" when they spot her in public, and now the Emmys have taken notice of the complicated drug addict that is Jackie Peyton. 

"It’s crazy, and I couldn’t be happier about it when somebody sees me and says, 'Oh, my God, it’s Jackie!'" she said recently by telephone. "The first time that happened was really sort of moving for me, a little bit jarring, because it had always been about Carmela. But also it hit me that this was, wow, a whole different chapter I’m entering into. So I consider myself very lucky.

"This is particularly sweet because it’s a whole different world. And not to be out there with my Sopranos people is gonna be strange. I know the whole Emmy experience in relations to my friends, who were the people who were nominated or if the show was nominated. This will be very interesting. I can’t wait to see what it’s going to feel like with a whole new crew."

The first season of "Nurse Jackie" missed the Emmy qualification window, so the second season, which ended in June, marked the first time the series could be considered for TV's highest honor. The show is nominated in eight categories. Falco is competing against Toni Collette (Showtime's "The United States of Tara"),  Julia Louis-Dreyfus (CBS' canceled "The New Adventures of Old Christine"), Tina Fey (NBC's "30 Rock"), Lea Michele (Fox's "Glee") and Amy Poehler (NBC's "Parks and Recreation").

Even though she hasn't selected a gown, she doesn't seem stressed about the hoopla surrounding potentially winning a fourth Emmy trophy.

"I like it more than I used to, now that I realize where they need to be in the importance scheme of things," she said about awards shows. "I don’t need to get uptight about it. Getting dressed up and stuff like that is nothing I’ve ever been completely comfortable with, and as the years have gone by I’ve come to enjoy it. I end up seeing a lot of friends, and it ends up being sort of fun and I’ll still see someone that makes my knees jerk a little bit. Jack Nicholson will appear at something I didn’t expect him to be at or I’m sitting at dinner next to Kirk Douglas. You know, it’s not entirely un-fun these things. All I know is the best part’s already happened. I got nominated, and they like the stuff I’m doing, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m thrilled."

Nurse_jackie_gal2_ef_043 The third season of "Nurse Jackie" begins production in September, which means Falco knows nothing about Jackie's mess of a life. When viewers last saw the awesome ER nurse, her husband and best friend had just staged an intervention, and she had retreated to a bathroom where she looked in the mirror, called herself an addict and said something a family newspaper can't print.

To whom was she talking? Her loved ones? Herself? The viewer?

Who knows? Certainly not Falco, who says she likes to read scripts when she's about to shoot them to avoid over-thinking her performance. So the actress, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for the role, knows nothing of what's ahead for Jackie, her husband, Kevin, and her lover, Eddie, who happens now to be a friend of Kevin's too.

"It was great because it's unclear what’s happening, and I’m always for that," Falco said.  "Any opportunity you have to let the audience wonder what the hell’s going on, I think, is a great thing. I think too much of American television and moviemaking is feeding exactly what the audience is supposed to think at each point, and I think that’s doing a disservice to the viewing public, treating them like they’re not smart. And maybe different people would have a different experience of that ending, and I sort of love that."

Fair enough. Is Falco on Team Kevin or Team Eddie?

"I'm so glad I don’t have to choose," she said. "It’s an embarrassment of riches, if you ask me. They’re both great guys in their own ways."

— Maria Elena Fernandez
twitter.com/writerchica

Photos: (Top) Edie Falco in Pasadena in January. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

(Bottom) Edie Falco as "Nurse Jackie." Martin Segal / Showtime.

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