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Dana Delany Moves From Wisteria Lane to the Morgue

by Bryan Reesman, posted Jun 30th 2010 7:30PM
Dana DelanyNow that 'Desperate Housewives' has rejuvenated her television career, Emmy-winning actress Dana Delany will be starring in the new ABC procedural drama 'Body of Proof', which promises to be one of the top contenders of the fall season.

In the series, she plays neurosurgeon-turned-medical examiner Dr. Megan Hunt, a charming yet snarky individual who she likens herself to be the female version of House. The dramatic pilot balances her professional cases with her private travails, including reconnecting with her estranged daughter.

But does this dynamic role mean the end of her run on 'Desperate Housewives'? At the end of last season, Katherine Mayfair (Delany) and reformed stripper Robin Gallagher (Julie Benz) were off to Paris for a romantic vacation. Since Delany and Benz both have new ABC series in the fall, their characters' fates are up in the air.

With burning questions in hand, TV Squad caught up with Delany at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival to get the lowdown on her new show and her possible 'Housewives' future.

With 'Desperate Housewives' you have thrived in an ensemble setting. Do you feel more pressure now that 'Body of Proof' is going to be centered on you?
It will be different. I have to say that 'Housewives' is the easiest job in the world because there are so many great actresses on it, and you only work two or three days a week. It's so well-produced, and this is a whole new gamble. I don't know how it's going to be. We're shooting in Rhode Island, so it's going to be a challenge to uproot my life to shoot there in Providence. [Editor's note: The show is set in Philadelphia.] It's going to be a whole new thing -- new writers, new cast, new character.

Dana Delany Body of ProofThe pilot is engaging because your character combines a bit of Katherine Mayfair and a bit of ['China Beach' protagonist] Colleen McMurphy.
That's a good comparison.

Are you channeling some of your past roles into this? Or are you totally looking at in a completely different way?
I'm looking at it in a new way, but I'm me, I'm not Meryl Streep. [laughs] She's the one who can transform herself.

What really drew you to 'Body of Proof'?
It's a very well-written, and it's a great character. She's complex, she's strong, she's smart, you don't always like her. I like playing characters that are little complicated and that you don't necessarily like at first, then you grow to appreciate them. I don't worry about being liked. I like to be more challenged than that.

For you, in what ways is this different than other medical dramas?
I think ABC always wanted to have a procedural because they've done so well for CBS. Who would not want to have that? They think of themselves as more of a character network, more character-driven, so this one has a great character, and a lot of stuff is going to be motivated more by the character than the plot.

Does this mean that you're definitely leaving 'Desperate Housewives'?
We don't know. It depends on what happens with this. We'll know by the ratings. When this got picked up, Marc [Cherry, the showrunner] very nicely sent me a big thing of flowers with a little note that said, "I'll be here waiting." So I wrote him back and said, "I like a man who waits."

How is this new series going to change things? Before 'Desperate Housewives' you always enjoyed your life and enjoyed traveling. How have things changed since?
I'm a little tired. I'm a little daunted because I'm not young. After I finish here [in Monte-Carlo], I'm going to the Caribbean for a week, just myself and nobody else, with a stack of books and my new iPad. I'm just going to lie on the beach and read. I'm going to need that because once we start on this it's be all me and all these medical words that I don't understand.

Would you have done the same thing six or seven years ago?
Probably not. I think 'Desperate Housewives' took me by surprise, how much I enjoyed it. I forgot how much I like doing television and forgot how much I like being part of an ensemble. I just like acting. That's all. I just really like to act, and it makes me happy.

In the recent past you have talked about wanting to get married, but at the same time you're not sure if you can find someone who could accept your freewheeling lifestyle. Do you still find it a challenge after all these years to find a relationship with someone who will quite understand your lifestyle?
People think I'm a little odd, especially for a woman. If you're not married by my age there's something wrong with you or you're a lesbian or something. But I think people are coming around to my point of view. I think people are realizing that freedom is so underrated, that you can just do what you want. You can still have relationships, you just make sure that they're with people who understand that you're you and they're them. I have a friend who says that if everybody just did what they wanted it would be a happier place. The key is to be honest about it. You can't lie about it. I couldn't pick up right now and go to Providence if I was married. I think Jeri [Ryan, my co-star] is going to have a hard time because she has two kids, and I think she's freaking out. But I can do that.

Do you think we'll be seeing more characters like you on television -- mature women who are independent and doing what they want?

Obviously, there are great roles for women on television. Glenn Close, Edie Falco and Laura Linney are all [doing] great now. But it's interesting because I went to this More magazine convention in Chicago, and I think there is a groundswell of women now who realize that marriage isn't what it's cracked up to be and are really okay about that. A lot of people are coming up to me saying, "Thank you for saying it's OK not to get married." Everyone feels pressure -- it's the urge to merge. You're told that you should be with somebody.

'Sex and the City 2' got trashed by a lot of people. It's like those women are now being punished for behavior that people liked from them in the past because of their age.
That's too bad. I haven't seen the movie. On this show ['Body of Proof'] we are going to have a costume designer who is 74 years old. She showed up at my house dressed in high heels, a skintight white suit with white and blue hair, and her 35-year-old boyfriend dropped her off. I thought, "Ok, that's still possible." It's whatever you want it to be.

Who's your favorite fashion designer?
Prada. It just fits me well, I think it's artistic. I appreciate what she does.

Why did you choose the character of Dr. Megan Hunt as your next role?

It chose me. ABC called me and said they'd like me to do this role, and I said, "Don't I already have a job?" And they said, "Maybe not." I'm in this maze of life where I want to keep going, so I thought, "All right, why not?"

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Don

This article contains what is easily the most self-centered and least-enlightened quote of the day.

"I have a friend who says that if everybody just did what they wanted it would be a happier place."

July 04 2010 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lawrence fishberg

ANOTHER OVERPAID CELEBRITY, TALKING ABOUT HER STUPID SERIES, THAT THE DROOLING MORONS WHO FOLLOW THIS GARBAGE, FIND SOOOOOOOOOOOO INTERESTING...CULTURE IS DEAD.

July 04 2010 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kelly Woo

Oops, I fixed the headline. Thanks for the catch!

July 01 2010 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Willmore2000

Is "Wisteria Line" what you shout when you forget your lines, while performing on the Wisteria Lane set of Desperate Housewives?

July 01 2010 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy_MO

I'm looking forward to this. Not because it's something original because let's be honest, it's Quincy with a vagina. However, I've been a fan of Delaney since China Beach and she's always good no matter the material; just look at her pathetic story line on Desperate Housewives this past season and how great she was.

June 30 2010 at 7:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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