It says plenty about the power of her performance that when The Sopranos came to an end in 2007, many people were just as curious about what the next move would be for Edie Falco, who played Carmela Soprano, as they were about the actor who played the patriarch of the New Jersey mob family, James Gandolfini.
And with good reason. Even though Gandolfini's character was incredibly nuanced, Falco's had to be so much more, as Carmela (as well as the audience) wrestled with knowing what her husband was involved in. In a key episode early on, she is told by a shrink that her husband is a "depressed criminal" and that she is his accomplice, before he adds, "One thing you can never say, that you haven't been told." Falco won three Emmys for lead actress in a drama series for her portrayal of the heavily accented, finely manicured Carmela.
Almost two years to the day after the Sopranos finale, Falco debuted as the lead in Nurse Jackie, a dark comedy about a grizzled, pill-popping nurse who cheats on her husband. Falco's Jackie has been warmly received ("a truly breakthrough female character," wrote New York magazine) and Emmy voters agreed, awarding Falco outstanding lead actress in a comedy series last year, making her the first actor since Carroll O'Connor (All in the Family, In the Heat of the Night) to win in both genres. She is up for another Emmy for Nurse Jackie this year.