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Nurse Jackie's Edie Falco on Her New Roles

The Emmy-winning actress opens up about beating her alcohol addiction, her new play, and her favorite part of all: mother.

Falco: "I Never Thought I Would Be a Mom"

After kicking the bottle, Falco cleaned up her diet and swapped her unhealthy addiction for a healthy one: running. "Back when I drank, I didn't exercise at all, and I decided to take better care of myself," says Falco, who discovered she loved logging miles outdoors for the mood-boosting benefits. Then, in September 2003, Falco received the life-changing diagnosis of stage 1 breast cancer. Suddenly, exercise became much more than a way to stay fit and firm -- it became a source of solace. Even on days when she was depressed over losing her hair to chemo, Falco's runs made her feel strong and calm.

Finally, in February 2004, the clouds lifted: Falco entered remission. But despite her soaring career and regained health, she realized something was missing: She wanted to be a mom.

"I had been pursuing this career for so long and living, literally, by the seat of my pants, that it never occurred to me that I would have children," says Falco who, after graduating from the prestigious Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film, lived in Manhattan and worked odd jobs to support her acting career.

"I traveled in a circle of poor artists, and I just never thought I would be a mom. I didn't think it would be something I would be good at, and it didn't seem like something I wanted. And then...it did!" She laughs. "It kind of snuck up on me and grabbed ahold of me -- and it wasn't going to let go."

That Falco was 40 and single didn't matter to her. She knew it was time and quickly began looking into adoption. "It's an arduous process, but I imagine the nine months of watching your body change [during pregnancy] is sort of an arduous process as well," Falco says, laughing, recalling the mountains of paperwork and days of waiting expectantly for a phone call.

The moment her son, Anderson, was placed in her arms that December, Falco burst into tears. "It's as big as it gets in one's life. I learned a capacity for love I didn't think I had. A selfless kind of love." That she wasn't the baby's biological mother made no difference to her. "It feels very clear to me that the second they hand you a newborn it's your child, and it makes absolutely no difference what body it came out of," she says. She likens the experience to her instantaneous love-bond with her beloved dog, Marley, 12, a yellow Lab–white shepherd mix. "It's sort of embarrassing, but I love Marley so much that I have a hard time believing she did not come from me. In a way, all dogs are adopted." In 2008, Falco adopted a sibling for her son, a baby girl she named Macy.

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