Pop Culture

Edie Falco on fame: 'I don't want to appear to be the jerk' I feel I am

Small-screen success has seen Edie Falco go from one iconic role on "The Sopranos" to another on her current hit "Nurse Jackie." That same success has also brought her a level of fame that's changed her life — for both good and bad.

On the plus side, she doesn't have to worry about working the sort of jobs she once did.

"I keep waiting to feel like, 'This is your life now, Falco. This is real,'" the actress explained on TODAY Thursday morning. "I still wake up and (think), 'I don't have to go to a restaurant. I don't have to clean up and marry ketchup bottles.' How did that happen?"

On the downside, Falco finds that she can't always be herself now.

"(I miss) being anonymous in New York," she said. "You sort of build up a tough (persona)… not that I don't want to be nice, but I was less concerned about appearing not nice. You go about your day in New York. You kind of muscle your way through. And I'm just a little more self-aware now, because — I don't know — I'm recognized. I don't want to appear to be the jerk I sometimes feel I am."

Of course most fans never get the chance to see Falco on the streets of New York. Instead, they catch her on her Showtime series, where she faces bigger problems than being perceived as rude. For her character, Jackie, the focus is currently on falling off the wagon.

"I want her to be on the straight and narrow," TODAY anchor and "Nurse Jackie" fan Savannah Guthrie told Falco. "I want her to be happy."

"Those aren't necessarily the same thing," the star said. "I think it's hard. I think we're trying to accurately portray the drama of an addict trying to get clean. It's very rarely pretty."

And it's not always funny, despite the fact that the powers-that-be behind the show consider it to be a comedy.

"You know, I'm going to get fired before this broadcast is through," Falco said after revealing that she doesn't really see it as a comedy. "It's got a lot of funny stuff in it, but it's got a lot of unfunny stuff in it. I guess everything has to be categorized, so I will stay out of it."

Funny or not, "Nurse Jackie" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.