September 1, 2008

Desperata Times Ahead for Dana

AFTER turning down Sarah Jessica Parker's part of Carrie in Sex And The City and Bree in Desperate Housewives, Dana Delany isn't taking any more chances.

When she was given the opportunity to play the fifth Desperate Housewife, Katherine Mayfair, in series four, the well-known American actress jumped at it.

"When they first asked me to play Bree, I thought it was too similar to a role I'd just done, so I turned it down. Then it was a huge hit and I had those three o'clock in the morning moments of, 'What have I done?' "I'm known for turning things down. But I try not to think about it and have faith that things work out the way they are supposed to."

Luckily Dana is a person who producers don't mind asking twice.

No was she takes her place as the oldest housewife on Wisteria Lane, the petite 52-year-old looks 15 years younger.

Attributing her youthful appearance to a relaxing-sounding mix of yoga, wine and sleep, she says that unlike her television neighbours she has actually managed to gain weight since joining the show.

"When I started the costume designer said, 'Don't get the Desperate Housewives disease,' because everyone loses so much weight when they come on the show.

"I think there is an unspoken competitive weight loss thing. But I failed completely. My costumes were too tight by the end of the season - they had to let them out!"

Joining a well-established show during the fourth series is no easy task so the writers needed a way to integrate Dana.

"They made it so that Katherine had lived on Wisteria Lane 12 years earlier and was an original housewife. That way she could come in and act like the alpha female, and treat the others like newcomers."

Certainly, in fictional terms, Katherine does very little to ingratiate herself, challenging Bree's position as Wisteria Lane's domestic goddess, admitting to having an affair with Susan's cousin Tim when he was 16 and beating Lynette to the position of street chairwoman.

"I was a little taken aback at first by how mean she was," Dana admits.

"But Marc the writer explained that he saw her as a JR Ewing from Dallas type who goes in and takes control. But as a result people would come up tome in the street and say 'I hate you'."

Playing an uptight woman who keeps her recipes and personal secrets locked away, Dana says she feels a lot of sympathy for Katherine, although they're nothing alike.

"Once her secret is revealed you see why she is so damaged. By the end of the series, people were coming up tome and saying, 'I love you.

You're my favourite housewife'.

"But for me, there isn't a single housewife that I really relate to as a person because I don't have children, I've never been married and I have spent my whole life trying not to be a desperate housewife!

"The funny thing is that the only one who is domesticated on the show is Teri Hatcher, who plays Susan, and is known for being hopeless.

But Teri is in fact a big baker and brings food to the set."

In the show Katherine immediately makes an "frenemy" in Bree, played by Marcia Cross.

Dana says, "We were friends before the show and we just giggle. She makes faces that are so funny, it's very hard to keep a straight face.

"There's an episode in which she tries to poison me which was out and out slapstick.

She and I were improvising off-camera saying the nastiest things to one other."

Dana says she has loved the chance to experience life on prime time.

"I've never seen anything like the size of this production.

"I've never had such a big trailer to myself and every actress has their own hair and make-up person.

"I probably take the longest to get ready because I'm new. But the others are bored with hair and make up no wand tend to come in almost ready as they want to spend more time with their families than on set."

There's also something else contagious going around the set, something Dana might like to catch.

Since joining the show, all the other housewives have found love.

"Marriage has never been that important tome. I wanted to have adventures but I sort of feel now that I've done everything I wanted to do. I know who I amand I'm probably ready for the first time in my life. I think that if I had married before, I would be divorced by now."

She adds, giggling: "I'm off to Tuscany on holiday soon so may be there's an Italian waiter waiting for me there."

Desperate Housewives returns to Channel Four on Wednesday at 10pm

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