It may seem like an unlikely premise for a hit series – the tale of a group of housewives, in a normal town, told through the eyes of their dead neighbour – but stranger things have worked (think Dexter, the loveable serial killer, or Flipper, the crime-fighting dolphin…). Multi-award-winning comedy-drama Desperate Housewives now has 120 million viewers worldwide, and the seventh series is due to air in the UAE on November 1. Tune in for another hefty dose of back-stabbing, struggles, affairs and secrets in the ‘perfect’ white-picket-fenced world – but this time, the wives have a new playmate. Ugly Betty star Vanessa Williams joins the cast to stir things up as glamorous, high-flying Renée Perry. We caught up with her and Eva Longoria Parker (who plays Gabrielle Solis) to find out more.
How did the role on the show come about?
Vanessa: The head of ABC called Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and said, ‘I want Vanessa on the show.’ I’d had four great years on Ugly Betty, which was over, and Marc said okay. He asked whether I’d seen the show and if I would be interested in joining. I said, ‘Well, that would be interesting,’ and he said they’d come up with a character for me. It all happened at lightning speed.
Are there any similarities between your new character, Renée Perry, and your role as Wilhelmina on Ugly Betty?
Vanessa: Renée is certainly not Wilhelmina, but she is no shrinking violet either. Renée is such an interesting character. She’s a bit passive-aggressive. She comes from New York and she’s married to a New York Yankee, so she does make her observations about suburban life compared with what she’s constantly missing in New York. She’s an outsider, but she’s certainly a lot less harmless than the wrath of Wilhelmina Slater, for sure.
How much trouble is in store for the residents of Wisteria Lane?
Vanessa: She ruffles feathers. She’s certainly not diabolical by any means. But there are certain plans that she makes. She is sometimes vengeful and I think she definitely will fluster the women on the Lane.
Have the other Housewives welcomed you to the show?
Vanessa: They’ve been fantastic and genuinely happy to have me on board. It’s their seventh year, so they’re definitely a family there, but they’re happy about the new energy and what I bring.
Rumour has it we can expect to see steamy scenes with fellow newcomer Brian Austin Green…
Vanessa: He factors in at a bar late at night, that’s how he factors in. He’s great. He’s obviously newly married. He’s a lovely, genuinely nice guy. It’s been nice. We both kinda came into this new situation at the same time. Desperate Housewives has been a huge hit in the Middle East.
Why do you think this is?
Eva: We deal with universal issues such as divorce, marriage, relationships, kids and neighbours. I think everybody around the world relates to the show because even though it’s not set in Dubai, you’d still see these houses and these women; they’re the same issues that you’d be talking about.
Is it getting to a point where you wish you had more privacy? Everyone seems to be so fascinated by your life…
Eva: Oh no – the pros far outweigh the cons! I’m very, very flattered by the attention the show gets and the accolades and the recognition. I mean, personally, it is a loss of privacy and anonymity and everybody
knows you, but I think that’s just the price you pay.
Is it tough living up to that ‘sexiest woman in the world’ tag that seems to follow you everywhere?
Eva: It’s flattering. I think [her husband] Tony is happier about it because he has bragging rights. He’s like, ‘My girl’s the number one woman in the world!’ Me, I don’t know. I don’t really strive to live up to it. It’s nothing you can control, I mean, I thank my parents. I had nothing to do with it.
Desperate Housewives season seven airs on Showseries every Monday at 8pm from November 1