Having played sexy, manipulative Gabby Solis for eight years on the nighttime soap Desperate Housewives, Eva Longoria is no stranger to over-the-top comedic situations, and her new series provides plenty of them.
In Telenovela (Mondays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC), Longoria plays Ana Sofia Calderón, the star of a Spanish soap opera called Las Leyes de Pasión, in a workplace sitcom that mines the behind-the-scenes action for hilarity.
As executive producer, she’s also the mastermind behind the series, so we asked her about doing double duty, crazy moments and the game show blunder she won’t soon forget…
“That’s really what life is about—making the world a better place.”
It’s been almost four years since Desperate Housewives ended. What took so long to come back to TV?
I always wanted to come back to TV, but I did want to take a break after Housewives. It was almost a decade of my life and it was such an amazing show, and to be honest I was like, how could anything top Desperate Housewives? So I knew if I was going to come back to TV it had to be something special. I had this idea for Telenovela a couple of years ago—we developed it as an hour-long, and I wasn’t going to be in it. But when Chrissy Pietrosh and Jessica Goldstein wrote a new draft and the script was beyond hilarious, I said, “This is what I want to come back to TV in!” This girl is insecure and vulnerable and all of the comedy stems from that real place. Gabby was arrogant and very secure, so it really was a fun choice.
What do you relate to most about Ana Sofia?
I did not grow up speaking Spanish—I learned it very late in life. That’s the one thing I do have in common with Ana Sofia that we mined from my life.
What are some of your favorite crazy things that you’ve gotten to do in the show?
I directed one called Hurricane and that was so much fun because we just got to let loose. The musical episode, singing with Zachary Levi—just acting with Zachary Levi has been such a dream and a gift and amazing and fun. I had never sung before on TV. There’s a reason for that, but to be able to do it badly was a lot of fun.
Do you like the producing aspect?
I love it. I was a producer turned actor. I’ve always had a producer’s mind. I like the business side of things, and so I always knew I would produce. I took a left turn somewhere and became an actress but always knowing I’d be producing.
You produce Devious Maids for Lifetime but haven’t ever appeared in it. How about this season?
I will be guest starring in the season premiere of Season 4. It’s a little meta and I don’t think I can tell you about it other than I play myself, a heightened version of myself. I’m so proud of that show. I’m so excited that it’s found an audience that’s so in love with it.
And you have a drama project set in a casino, right?
Yeah, it’s a big soap on our development slate about a family-owned casino. It’s a little bit Game of Thrones once the patriarch dies.
With all you have going on, do you have time for anything else?
Sure. I have game nights at my house. I love cooking. I have a lot of down time. I schedule it in, actually.
Speaking of that, you were on Hollywood Game Night recently…
So embarrassing. I didn’t know where Fenway Park was! I said New York. Everybody in Boston was like, “How could she say that?!”
What are you proudest of?
I’m most proud of my foundation and my charity work. Eva’s Heroes is celebrating 10 years. I can’t believe it. And the Eva Longoria Foundation has just gone international with a partnership in Mexico. That’s really what life is about—making the world a better place. The thing I’m most proud of in my production company is giving jobs to new actors that the world can see and having 300 people working on set just because I had an idea. That makes me proud and happy.
Photo by Ben Cohen/NBC