Edie Falco Loves Playing Complicated Women. Now She’s Tackling LA’s First Female Police Chief

A: Yeah, for sure, but also good at her job and able to just barely keep her head above water to ignore that looming thing that was eventually going to bite her head off. You learn in these 12-step meetings that anything you put before the importance of treating the addiction, you will lose.

Q: You have been sober a long time. Was there one incident that made you give up drinking?

A: I was living in a (walk-up apartment nearby). I just had a horrible, debaucherous night. All I remember is trying to get into my apartment up on the fifth floor. It was really cold, and at a certain point I realized I was trying to get on to the roof of my building. I'm so glad I didn't, God knows what would have happened. I woke up the next morning, fully clothed on my bed, and the door to my apartment was wide open. There are those of us who are lucky enough to have the moment where we realize, "Oh, it's over." That was 27 years ago.

Q: Did playing Jackie, someone who relapses repeatedly, help you at all?

A: I'm too far beyond that. I could only play it because I felt so far away from it. But you've got to stay on top of it. I really made a big fight about the series not ending well for her _ "We want to give them hope." But it's a comedy about a drug addict and, I don't know, I don't find a lot of humor in that. At the very least, we've got to make sure it ends in a way that respects what addicts and their families have gone through. That really was important to me.

Q: I have heard you didn't watch "The Sopranos."

A: I'd watch some of the edits. But not all of them. Me and Aida (Turturro), who played Janice and is one of my closest friends, sat down to watch them recently. We got four episodes in, and we couldn't do it. It was too evocative. It was such a big time in our lives and such a big chapter for all of us. I may get to it someday.

Q: This is a very specific question, but Carmela's nails were such a distinctive part of that character. Was that important to you?

A: It feels like those nails keep you from having to really engage with anything dirty. She always had people doing stuff for her. She wasn't fixing the garage door. It always felt like a sign to me of someone who doesn't work very hard. The nails were made for me and I glued them on very day. Just like I glued these on. (She fans her fingers, which are topped with blue press-on nails from the drugstore.) I have to do a talk show tonight, and my nails are really nasty because I do crafts. So I just glue them on. I've done it for years.

I still have (Carmela's nails). I have them in their case. I was pretty neurotic about it. I'd take them off and then they'd have glue on the underside so I had my little dremel, a little tool you plug it in, it has a sanding edge on it to clean out the glue from the inside of the nail.

Q: In the decade between the premiere of "The Sopranos" and "Nurse Jackie," TV changed dramatically. Did you feel that from the inside?

A: I'm not great at having a bird's-eye view of what's going on in my industry. I'm very first-person singular with my experience of all of it. I always wish there was more work _ more good work. But I have never felt as acutely as a lot of women did that there weren't a lot of good parts for women. Maybe that has to do with my tomboy quality. I played a good number of parts that were originally written for men. I played a D.A. on "Law and Order" and a manager in "The Comedian" with (Robert) De Niro. I'm kind of in that middle ground. And now I'm playing Tommy.

Q: What are you watching these days?

A: I watch CNN. I am obsessed with politics to the point where it's not good for me. We're in a bit of a crisis right now as a people. I'm concerned about that. And "Dr. Pimple Popper." My daughter is obsessed and I watch it with her. We go to bed, like, nauseated, but you can't turn it off. People have such shame, "I have this bump on my shoulder," whatever. And she's like, "Come over here. Let's fix it." They walk out crying. My whole life has changed. It's big stakes. It's formulaic and all that, but the procedures are never not interesting. I'm a little embarrassed I told you that. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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