Over the past decade and a half, Edie Falco has become synonymous with the Emmys. She won for her first nomination as Carmela on “The Sopranos,” picked up two more for the landmark HBO drama, and another for Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.” With “Jackie” coming to an end this year, Falco may finally get a respite from the red-carpet grind. But with talent like hers, don’t expect a long absence.
What do you remember about that first Emmys?
Mostly that I had to wear clothing that was so far out of my comfort zone. Having to dress like that felt like a costume. What to wear and where to get it and all that stuff was so new to me. Wearing these incredibly fancy clothes felt just uncomfortable. The whole thing was completely surreal. Being with all my “Sopranos” friends — we had driven a New Jersey bus to the ceremony. It was quite an event. But mostly it was, “What the heck am I wearing?” And apparently Joan Rivers said those exact words (laughs). God bless her.
Did you have any expectation to win? It was the first major award show for “The Sopranos.”
Oh my God, no, never in a million years. I still couldn’t believe I was in a show that got picked up, that I made it through that first hurdle. I had done a bunch of pilots and I was thrilled for the work but they weren’t picked up. I had just done the “Fargo” pilot, before the Billy Bob Thornton one, and that one I had felt pretty sure was going to go and it didn’t. I basically thought, “I don’t know anything about anything.” The last thing on my mind was that I might win.
David Chase also won that year for writing, but James Gandolfini and the show did not. Did it feel like you were representing for the show?
This is gonna sound terrible, but it felt kind of yucky. They all had to wait for me to go around and do the press after. They were disappointed the show didn’t win. Everybody was waiting on the bus to go to the parties, and then I get on there holding my Emmy. It was such an all for one and one for all experience that for me to be singled out — it made me uncomfortable to tell you the truth. I wished the show had won, it felt more about this entire thing we were making together.
Looking back, you all definitely deserved it.
Aw. And also, you know, Jim and I were like a team. It always felt like we were one character: the Mr. and Mrs. Soprano thing. For me to be singled out and him not… The whole awards thing is very complicated and I have very complicated feelings. We’re all playing such different characters and to compare them in any way seems unusual. But to give one to me and not to Jim felt weird.
Twelve nominations and three wins later, do you still enjoy going to the Emmys?
It gets more fun. The anxiety level has really lowered down to very little. It’s nice to get to see people I only see at those things. Each year there are different friends that I’ve known for many years, so it becomes more of a social event. I’ve won and I’ve lost and that has very little correlation on my feelings about the evening. The truth is when you don’t win you have more in common with more people. There are more people you can sit around with and go, “Oh well,” compared to when you win and people go, “Oh, yeah, that’s great for you.”
Now that “Nurse Jackie” is over, how would you feel about maybe not going to the Emmys every year?
I think that would be OK (laughs). Honestly, if I could wear my jeans and my T-shirt I would go every year. I’d help them set up and I’d help them clean up after. I would love to know what it feels like to be at an event like that in clothing that’s comfortable.