David M. Russell/CBS
Edie Falco plays the first female chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in a new CBS drama Tommy (on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET starting Feb. 6.) “Tommy” is the nickname for Abigail Thomas, a former high-ranking New York Police Department officer and a gay mom who grapples with hot-button issues such as human trafficking and sexual harassment.
Chief Tommy takes after her dad
She comes from a cop family, so she's seen how it's done. She's, like, “My dad takes care of the populace, and that's what I want to do.” There seems to be quite an audience for the idea that there are people taking care of us, almost like a good parent. When you're sleeping, they're out making sure everything's OK.
Edie Falco takes after her mom
My mom was an actress and did theater, and I would go with her. I fell in love with it, but I thought I'd have a real job and then do plays at night, like my mom did.
Her daughter hates The Sopranos
If I stumble on The Sopranos with my daughter, she's all, “Can we change the channel?” My kids are over it.
On being a cop, a pill-popping nurse and a mob wife
With every job I get, I jump into that headspace. When I was very young, I told my mother I knew what it felt like to be anybody. My mother looked at me and thought, I know what she's going to do.
Acting and aging
Over the years, my characters began masking their vulnerability less. Now it's more acceptance of their own vulnerability — which in some way may mirror my own journey. A lot of us, as we get older, we're more open to embracing the parts of us that we are afraid of, or are maybe not proud of. So the roles I play now mirror that, and maybe that's why I responded to Tommy. In 1998, at 21, I did a play, Side Man, where characters age from 24 to 70. I'd love to do that play again.
Yes to a Sopranos sequel
I've always said to [show creator] David Chase that if he ever wanted to do The Sopranos again with Carmela taking over the family, I'm in. I feel she would do a great job. There is a Sopranos movie coming out, The Many Saints of Newark, but I'm not in that. Jim Gandolfini's son, Michael, who I knew when he was born, is playing Tony Soprano as a kid, and that is beyond moving. People said it was eerie how good this kid was. I saw him get his first haircut in Jimmy's lap in the hair and makeup trailer.
Falco’s Rap Sheet
Hometown: Long Island, New York
Early breakout role: Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway
Favorite cop shows: Live PD and The First 48, “a beautifully done documentary about real-life cops. I find it very moving.”
Emmy nominations: 14 (4 wins)
She's brusque — get used to it!
I went to an acting school for four years, where they were trying to rub off [my rough edges] with sandpaper. I tried for a while, and it just never quite fit, like a bad suit. Once I started to be able to be myself more, I feel like the characters have certainly been more fun to play and fuller and richer for me. I am that person. I can relate more to that.
But enough with the tough characters
I've turned down a lot of roles playing tough people. After a while, they tend to get a little boring. I've been offered a lot of mob people. I've learned to walk away from some things, even if the character was very interesting.
She played a nurse — here's her health tip
I like to meditate. It's very good for you, just saying, for those of you who haven't tried it.
Cable bills must die!
Everyone's talking about cutting cable and switching to Roku sticks, but technologically I'm really bad. When I find out how to do it, I am getting rid of cable. I have Netflix and Amazon and all, so now I'm catching up on all the movies that everyone's talking about.
Balancing work and life (and work, and more work)
On Sopranos, I would work, like, three out of five days, and it pissed me off. Like, I wanted to be there all the time. I want to be there when that funny thing happened on set. My kids have grown up on sets. My daughter runs around and hands goodies out to the cast and crew. I love it. I love it. I love it.