Edie Falco brings a certain gravitas to every show she’s in — from Nurse Jackie to The Sopranos to Law & Order: True Crime — and when you see her name top and lead a cast, it’s hard not to be intrigued.
Her latest lead role in cop drama Tommy has Falco playing Abigail “Tommy” Thomas, the first-ever woman police chief of Los Angeles.
She’s no-nonsense, she’s tough, but she also has a slew of problems she faces both professionally and away from the job. She’s gay — a point of contention with several colleagues and the mostly masculine police force — her daughter’s marriage is in trouble and there’s a corruption scandal threatening to erupt.
Falco was immediately attracted to the Tommy character and to the idea of helming a show. She’s “a bit of a control freak” who likes to be on set every day to see things progress.
Global News chatted with Falco over the phone prior to the show’s premiere.
Global News: You look powerful in that police uniform — how does it feel to wear it?
Edie Falco: It’s just one of thousands of other uniforms I’ve worn in my life! It’s made out of some atrocious fabric, that’s all I’m going to say. It’s awful. It’s plastic in fabric form. Listen, the least I can do is wear the legitimate uniform these people actually wear.
So what interested you about Tommy? Why’d you decide to join the show?
I liked the script. I thought it was funny and smart. I liked her. She’s kind of a wiseass with a good sense of humour… but a weird one.
Also, I don’t know if everyone gets her sense of humour. Or maybe they’re not used to her yet. There’s something endearing about that. When I was reading , I kept thinking, “No one is laughing with her.”
A lot of actors who play the lead role describe it as very stressful. Do you feel that way taking on the lead here?
Oh! Not at all, I love it. I’m a bit of a control freak. Even when we did Sopranos, I worked maybe two out of five days, and it made me nuts. I wanted to be there, I wanted to hear what happened. People would say, “Oh, this funny thing happened on Tuesday!” and I’d be so pissed off because I wasn’t there Tuesday. I like to be right in the thick of it, that’s the way I’ve always been.
Tommy has a lot going on too — she’s not just a police chief. The issue of her sexuality comes up almost immediately, and that’s a big deal on network TV (even though it shouldn’t be).
Change takes time. Yes, we haven’t seen this before, but we should have. It’s long past time at this point; it’s embarrassing. We have to move forward and put these things out there. Once an audience sees these things, they come to accept them.
It’s the idea of the unknown, you know what I mean? It’s long past due, where this is just one of many characteristics this woman has. It’s not a show solely about a gay chief.
Do we get to see Tommy go on dates?
I never know what I’m allowed to say… but I think I can here. Yes, we do.
Tommy has to deal with a past sexual assault, her career was sidelined for 10 years, her daughter has marital issues, there’s insubordination at the office — how does she cope?
Like everybody! She does the best she can. Deal with the first issue at work… it’s a bit like Whack-a-Mole.
I think anybody who has a busy job can understand what that’s like. We take each thing as they come up, and it’s a bit more manageable that way. She’s definitely got a lot to deal with, but she’s capable, which is partly why she got hired for the job.
Serious issues are being dealt with right off the bat — ICE and immigration, for example. Is this something the show does going forward?
Each week is a different issue, typically. Some weave throughout the whole season. I, myself, have inadvertently become a very political person. I didn’t mean to, it snuck up on me. I very much respected the writers for not going there, because as soon as it becomes a “red” or a “blue” thing, you lose half the country. I don’t think that’s necessary.
I like that they dealt with an issue as an issue. Some people feel this way, some people feel that way. We don’t have to put a label on them either way. It might actually open some people up to other ways of thinking about stuff. I think that’s the answer to this logjam we’re in in this country.
What can viewers expect in Season 1?
She’s trying to find her sea legs, who’s who, who can she trust… who’s going to fight her? Who will be with her when she tries to find new ways to solve old problems? That’s work-wise. On the personal side of things, will she ever be able to find this relationship with her daughter, who she’s been sort of estranged from? That’s the first season.
It’s about the people in the precinct, not so much about the plot. Every person in the organization is an individual, and we’re hoping that people will come to watch for that.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.