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Edie Falco known as much for Jackie as Carmela

“Nurse Jackie” star Edie Falco 49 cherishes her role as mom Anders8 Macy 5.  |  Michael Loccisano~Getty Images

“Nurse Jackie” star Edie Falco, 49, cherishes her role as mom to Anderson, 8, and Macy, 5. | Michael Loccisano~Getty Images

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Updated: May 15, 2013 6:25AM

NEW YORK — Edie Falco has her head buried in a telephone-book-thick binder, black-framed reading glasses perched on her nose and a black leather motorcycle jacket slung over her chair.

Sitting in a West Village cafe, she looks like an intimidating theater professor. But she’s actually more eager acting student.

“Look at this thing! It takes me about 45 minutes to get through a page,” Falco says. This “thing” is Tony Kushner’s “rich, dense, smart” 2009 play, “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures,” which she is poring over for a two-day workshop. “Are you kidding? I would do it for an hour!”

After two decades as a big force on the small screen, Falco still gets giddy about the good stuff. Like “Nurse Jackie,” her Showtime dramedy, which returns Sunday for a fifth season. Jackie — the fantastically flawed New York ER nurse — is facing single motherhood and, most significantly, sobriety.

Never “in a million years” did Falco, 49, think Jackie’s story would span so many chapters. “But you know, I never would have imagined ‘Sopranos,’ either.”

Falco says she’s recognized about equally for Jackie as for her groundbreaking role as mob matriarch Carmela Soprano. “The whole thing is a huge compliment.”

But Falco is clearly most proud of an offscreen role she’s taken on. “Mom is the thing right now,” she says. “Because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever, in my life, done. And I have never been harder on my own performance as a mom,” to Anderson (her mom’s last name), 8, and Macy, 5.

“I’m doing it by myself. And they’re adopted. So when I’m really down on myself, I think, ‘I should have left them alone. They could have been adopted by a couple.’ At my worst, I think that. But my life’s work right now has been working through all that stuff.” (Falco, who has never married, concedes that she is “definitely” dating — “I always get in trouble when I mention this stuff!” — but says it’s nothing serious and no one in the industry.)

“It is the greatest gift to get to see the people that these kids are turning into as a result of their genetics, which I had nothing to do with, and as a result, I hope, of having me around.”

Gannett News Service

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