By Missy Schwartz
Updated June 06, 2009 at 05:00 PM EDT

Edie Falco is awesome. This we know from six glorious seasons of The Sopranos (may it rest in heavenly gabagule peace), her hilarious (and dare I say, too short) turn on 30 Rock, and pretty much every other bit of acting the three-time Emmy winner has ever done. Her new series, Nurse Jackie, premieres Monday night at 10:30 EDT on Showtime, and critics (including EW’s own Ken Tucker) have been heapin’ on the praise. It’s well-deserved, of course. In the pilot alone (which is already available online), Falco does some masterful work as the titular RN, a tough, loving, and lovable woman who presides over the emergency room of a New York City hospital that’s full of whackjobs (natch). Falco inhabits Jackie thoroughly, with nary a trace of Carmela-ness. And no, not just because she’s shed the Big Jersey Hair in favor of a close-cropped ’do that’s just a few inches short of a buzz cut.

In January, I was lucky enough to visit the Queens, NY set of Nurse Jackie, where I not only got to watch Falco perform a juicy scene with her longtime friend and costar Paul Schulze (yep, the same guy who played Father Phil on The Sopranos), but also witness with my very own eyes and ears the actress’ famed humility. I wanted to ask her how it felt to be, at long last, the star of her own series, but I’d barely uttered the word star when Falco winced—literally winced!—and said, “Ehhh, I hate that word. I hate it so much and I don’t go there. I’m not cut out for that part of this [i.e. acting] at all. I’m the wrong person for this to have happened to, in a way.”

Now, lots of actors claim to not care about the glamorous side of the biz, and just as many bend over backwards trying to cultivate a “down-to-earth” public persona. (“I’m real!” insisted J. Lo. Yeah, right.) But when Falco says it, she’s truly believable. Getting gussied up for a red carpet? Seeing her name at the top of the Nurse Jackie posters? Fuhgeddaboudit. “That does not feed me,” she said, shaking her head. “Who has the time? The hair! The makeup! The jewels! I don’t know. Some people are really cut out for that stuff. I get a kick out of it more than I used to, but it’s not something that I relish.”

So between her talent and unassuming nature, I ask you, PopWatchers: How can anyone not adore this woman?

addCredit(“Nurse Jackie: Ken Regan/Showtime; The Sopranos: Craig Blankenhorn “)