• Seventh and last season of ‘Nurse Jackie’ starts April 12
• Falco has “no idea what’s going to happen next, and it’s thrilling”
• Other than being able to tie a tourniquet, she didn’t pick up a lot of medical knowledge
PASADENA When Edie Falco used to walked down the street, fans of “The Sopranos” would yell out “Carmela,” the name of the character she played on the much-touted show. But a few years ago, because of the popularity of her Showtime series “Nurse Jackie,” things changed. Now, fans shout “Jackie” instead.
That’s proof of how powerful Falco’s work has been in the series about an ER nurse whose struggle with addiction has always been counterbalanced by her love of her patients and family.
Season seven of “Nurse Jackie” picks up at the exact moment that season six left off: Jackie Peyton (Falco) steps out of her mug shot and into a world of unrelenting consequences. Arrested and abandoned by those closest to her, Jackie must deal with having her nursing license revoked.
Her struggles this year will be the last. “Nurse Jackie” is ending with the seventh season. The final 12 new episodes begin Sunday, April 12.
This final shift will follow Nurse Jackie as she fights to regain her position in the hospital and reclaim her identity as nurse and mother. Her journey has been one of highs and despicable lows. Over the years, Falco watched as viewers initially rooted for Jackie but found it more difficult to support her.
Because of all the questionable things her character did along the way, Falco found “Nurse Jackie” to be an educational experience.
“I have known and loved many addicts in my life, and it is a frustrating and no‐win proposition. And it has been very interesting to be on the other side of it. To kind of get a taste of what misery they must have to go through really, being at the mercy of something that’s bigger than them,” Falco says. “It’s given me a lot more compassion. People that used to just make me angry, they make me a little bit more sad now. I think that’s probably a good thing, though it doesn’t always feel good.”
Along with leaving such a strong series, one of the most difficult parts about “Nurse Jackie” series ending is that she’s worked so closely with the young actors — Ruby Jerins, Daisy Tahan and Mackenzie Aladjem — who played her daughters. Just like on “The Sopranos,” Falco watched the actors grow up during the run of the show.
She finds it hard to “give them a kiss and a hug” and send them on their way after all the years together. She knows all of the young actors have real parents, but she has such a connection that saying farewell is tough.
On a more positive note, “Nurse Jackie” ends with five Golden Globes nomination and 23 Emmy nods. Falco was named Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series at the 2010 Emmy Awards. She picked up three Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on “The Sopranos.”
Falco has been working steadily since the ‘80s with her longest runs coming on “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Oz,” “The Sopranos” and “Nurse Jackie.” She has a great sense of gratitude for having two highly praised series in a row.
“I didn’t do anything. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t my idea. I would like to take credit for it. But I have had some exquisite good fortune, the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with, and the stuff I’ve gotten to do over these years,” Falco says.
The actress laughs and says she doesn’t leave with a lot of medical knowledge. Other than being able to tie a tourniquet, she didn’t learn a lot playing a nurse.
She’s not sure what’s coming next.
“The beautiful thing is that I have absolutely no idea. And that seems to have worked for me, that I have no plans. I have no idea what’s going to happen next, and it’s thrilling,” Falco says. “If something fascinating came up tomorrow — well, tomorrow, probably not — but, shortly thereafter, I’d probably do it.
“But if there was a big, fat, long period of time before I did anything, that would also be fine.”