Once Edie Falco has her teeth in a role, she doesn’t let go easily: She spent 80 episodes as “Nurse Jackie,” a run that ended in June and earned her latest Screen Actors Guild nomination two weeks ago — and 86 episodes in the equally memorable shoes of Carmella Soprano on “The Sopranos.” Unworried about the next big job that may grab her attention, Falco is now enjoying a holiday lull and chatted with The Envelope about “seriously over-decorating” her home, easy endings and choosing your soapboxes carefully.
What’s it like to exit a role after 80 episodes?
You know it’s coming, so you know how to prepare for it. On a network, you can be canceled before you’ve finished telling the story of this person but when you know it’s coming….
It’s pretty quick. By the time we actually wrap, I’m done. If I was 20, the story might be different — there was a time when I would lose myself a bit and forget who was her and who was me and those days are over. That didn’t work out so well. The need to keep things separate was needed early on, and I’m better at it now.
What was your take on the “Jackie” finale?
Early on I said, “If this is going to be a show about an addict — though it’s about a lot of things — it has to have real ramifications for her behavior.” She’s hurting people, she’s hurting herself, she’s getting older and I wanted at least to some extent mirror my experience with addiction, not just my personal one but addicts I’ve known and to take it seriously as an issue. I thought early on she probably shouldn’t make it.
Jackie’s ending is ambiguous: There’s no literal pull-her-eyelids-down, draw-the-sheet-she’s-dead moment.
That was important to some of the people at the helm. It was less important to me — but I’m not the only one working on the show.
Do we put too much emphasis on final episodes?
For sure. You can feel it in the writers’ room and everywhere else. As long as the final episode is truthful and feels like the rest of the show, to put that much energy and pressure on one episode, it didn’t make sense to me. Easy for me to say, since I didn’t have to write it.
I would hate to think that if a final episode was unsatisfying it would sour everything for everyone else. In my own experience, without exception there’s always so much thrown in there. It’s a little forced. How much can you do?
Would you want to do another long-running TV series?
Sure. I love it. It’s a real job, someplace you can show up consistently. It suits me. You wouldn’t think this career choice would lend itself to consistency, but it does.
You recently wrapped your next project, a feature called “Megan Leavey” that’s about a soldier and her K9. It’s directed by a woman, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, and written by a woman, Pamela Gray. Is working with women behind the scenes important for you?
I hate to say it, but it’s not. It’s not my soapbox. I want to work with people who are good, and there are men and women both in that category. I’ve been around for a long time, and it really is about not only who is good at their job, but who is kind and respectful. Coming up you’re so pleased to be working, you assume the price you have to pay is people who have personality issues or ego stuff. But I insist on a work life that is respectful.
So now you go back to decorating your house?
Yep! I realize how much I love this. I’m always working through a holiday season, but not this year. I’ve finished my shopping already and I’m seriously over decorating now because I have the time. It’s a great time to be a homeowner, a mom and a resident of New York. I’m a bit of a Pollyanna about the whole thing right now.