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Dana Delany

Dana Delany


Dana Delany first hit the big time as a wide-eyed nurse on ABC's Vietnam War drama China Beach. Now she's back on the alphabet network, stirring up trouble on Desperate Housewives as a tyrannical new neighbor with -- what else? -- a deep, dark secret.

Was it tough joining a show in mid run, with such big personalities already on it? It was a little bit like trying to board a train that's left the station. But I've been around a long time, and I've never worked on a show that's run so smoothly. All the kinks are worked out. Whatever rumors there were in the past, the actresses have worked it all out.

What's the story on your character, Katherine Mayfair? Katherine and her daughter, Dylan, used to live on Wisteria Lane 12 years ago. She was friends with Susan and Mary Alice, but she left under mysterious circumstances. Now she's back with a new, younger husband and a daughter who doesn't seem to be the same girl she left with.

Do you mean that literally--did she get rid of her daughter? Well, that's sort of the mystery this season. Dylan used to be best friends with Susan's daughter, Julie, but now she can't remember anything about her time on Wisteria Lane.

Katherine's a real queen bee. Is it fun playing the bitch? [Laughs] It is. I guess I'm dense, though, because I didn't really pick up on that when I was first looking at the character. She's definitely the uber-housewife, and she has no problem telling everyone in the neighborhood the right way to do things. Which of course means she and Bree are butting heads. Katherine has a malevolence about her, but I didn't want her to be too mustache-twirling. I tried to strike a balance.

She's not getting on so well with the gay neighbors. Yes, but it's not about them being gay--it's about their taste! She can't stand the fountain they have in the yard, so she becomes president of the neighborhood association just so she can have it removed.

Marc Cherry said he envisioned Katherine as a cross between Dallas's J.R. Ewing and Melrose Place's Amanda Woodward. I hadn't heard that, but Marc loves pop culture, so that makes sense. She's an amalgam of a lot of different characters. I remember in one scene Marc told me to do this one thing, and I thought, Oh, that's so Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca!"

Nathan Fillion plays your husband on the show. It must be tough doing sex scenes with him. We haven't done any yet! I keep telling Marc to get us in bed together, but so far, nothing. They're not playing up the younger man-older woman angle, which I'm glad about. I usually go for younger guys anyway, so I don't see what the big deal is. And Nathan played my lover in Pasadena, so we're very comfortable together.

Which is harder to survive: Vietnam or Wisteria Lane? [Laughs] I think they're more alike than different, actually. The dangers are subtle--you never know for sure if someone is your friend or your enemy.

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