Felicity Huffman has been the rock of Desperate Housewives. While all the outrageous killings and blackmails have gone on, Lynnette Scavo (Huffman) has mainly been struggling to have a normal family with her husband Tom (Doug Savant). Well, Tom’s illegitimate love child did come into the picture and that pre-marital mistress was killed in a hostage scenario, but otherwise the Scavos are the “normal” family on Wisteria Lane.
Our nearby Universal Studios backlot has been home to Wisteria Lane for the past seven years. The upcoming eighth season of Desperate Housewives will be its last. Huffman was one of the major Housewives players to come out and reflect on the show’s history with the Television Critics Association over the summer.
In the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, Huffman sat at a table , but separated by dozens of journalists waiting for time with either star. Having gotten time with both, my session with Huffman was fun. I always enjoyed Stephen Colbert’s reference to Filliam H. Muffman, his nickname for Huffman and husband William H. Macy. Huffman was a good sport about that, and the future of the Scavos. Desperate Housewives returns Sept. 25 on ABC.
PATCH: What has working on the Universal lot meant to you over the years?
FELICITY HUFFMAN: I think it’s akin to going through those Paramount gates. You’re in a studio that has a rich history. You’re in iconic film and television land. I drive to work through western town. I watch the Amity island Jaws shark come up. I love seeing different productions happen on different soundstages, the big dressing rooms and the trailers and stuff. So it’s really great.
PATCH: And surviving the fire of 2008.
HUFFMAN: You mean the real fire, yeah. I wasn’t on set but yeah. It’s kind of like when I did a Broadway play. You go in and then you read what the plays have been in that house. I remember when my husband a couple of times worked on Broadway and you’re sort of living in history. It’s great.
PATCH: Are there places around Studio City you liked to go during your free time?
HUFFMAN: Well, there’s that great clothing store called . There’s a great restaurant called . That’s all I can think of but I’m going to keep going.
PATCH: Do fans ever come up to you and tell you you’re their favorite?
HUFFMAN: Oh sure. I think the five or four characters are so disparate, no pun intended, that they attract different women. Each woman sees themselves either attracted to a Gabby or a Bree or a Susan or a Lynette. I think we just divvy up the fans.
PATCH: Don’t men say you’re their favorite too?
HUFFMAN: No. I think Eva is men’s favorite.
PATCH: Men have favorites too and some of us like you.
HUFFMAN: Thank you.
PATCH: Who has had the most emotional reaction to the show’s ending?
HUFFMAN: I don’t know. When I was talking to Eva, she said, “Oh my God, Felicity, I’m going to cry, I’m going to cry.” Eva was in Spain when it all went down. I don’t know how Marc got a hold of her but he did. He’s tenacious. I cried. I cried.
PATCH: How important is it to you that all four of you are there at the end?
HUFFMAN: I think that’s a writer question. I think there’s a chemistry in the show that’s undefinable and works like gangbusters. I couldn’t tell you why but I would say to make it a satisfying ending, to keep four in there. The original four but gosh, Vanessa [Williams] is so fantastic. Oh, she’s so good.
PATCH: Did you tell your husband he better keep Shameless on the air for a few years now?
HUFFMAN: I think he said that himself. He said, “Okay, I’m gonna get serious.”
PATCH: What will you miss most?
HUFFMAN: I love driving into work. I love going to work. Of course what that entails is that’s an umbrella statement. What lives under that is I love working with Doug Savant. The crew is amazing. The green room that is hair and makeup is wonderful. The four women, smoking cigarettes with Eva.
PATCH: Can the Filliam H. Muffman phenomenon survive the end of Desperate Housewives?
HUFFMAN: Probably not.
PATCH: I have to wave goodbye to that.
HUFFMAN: I know.
PATCH: Would you look for another show right away? Will you guest star on Shameless?
HUFFMAN: Wouldn’t that be fun? I don’t know. My fear is I’ll be opening shopping malls across America or gas stations.
PATCH: What do you know about this season?
HUFFMAN: You guys know more than I do. It’s going to come full circle with Brenda [Strong’s character, Mary Alice.] I don’t know what that means. I become a cougar. I heard that actually Tom might get a girlfriend. I know. Now here’s a question. Do you think people would be more upset if Lynette dated or if Tom dated?
PATCH: Tom probably.
HUFFMAN: Isn’t that funny?
PATCH: You’ve been wronged.
HUFFMAN: Oh yeah, absolutely.
PATCH: What would you like to see for Lynette and Tom in the end?
HUFFMAN: Because it’s the last year, they can do anything they jolly well please whereas if it was going to go year nine, they would’ve had to get together. So I think it would be really truthful if they got divorced because that happens and then you have to deal with two houses and custody and back and forth and those kind of issues. But I know as I say that, it feels yucky. So I guess what I hope that happens, and by the way anything can happen, I think they might end us up apart but I hope we sort of go on our little adventures. I really don’t want to be a cougar. I hope he goes on his adventures and I really hope the dynamic changes and Lynette is not so chronically discontent with everything that Tom does.
PATCH: Has Marc given you any hints?
HUFFMAN: Well, he’s given many hints. The last I heard is that Tom would have a girlfriend. I hope they do whatever is richer for the comedy and the drama. That’s probably splitting them up.
PATCH: Does that make you sad?
HUFFMAN: Yeah, I love working with Doug Savant so much. We both take naps on the couch. He’s up really late, I’m usually up late with my kids and we get up early because we’re both the first ones up in our family. I get up at 5 or 5:30 and then in between scenes, there’s this little crummy beige couch and we both go because we’re going to work on stuff, and then we fall asleep with the scripts in our hands.
PATCH: As far as bringing Brenda back, what do you think of the idea of revisiting the original mystery?
HUFFMAN: It would have to be a new well. You can’t go to the same well twice. They would have to really come at it from a different angle to make it interesting.
PATCH: Maybe someone witnessed her suicide?
HUFFMAN: I don’t know. I know that Marc [Cherry] has had the ending in his head for a while. Now I just hope he didn’t use up that ending in season six because they seem to blow through his ideas real quick. But I know he’s been pretty clear about how he wanted to end it, whether it was year eight or nine.
PATCH: Marc said he might bring Edie (Nicolette Sheridan) back. How do you think the women of Wisteria lane would like to say goodbye to her or include her in the finale?
HUFFMAN: She would come back as a ghost? We’re really talking soap opera. So how do I think they’d like to do an homage to Edie? I don’t know. Edie was always such a great counter to everybody. Such a great little slice of spice and a little bit of pepper in there which is great. So I would hope that if that happened, they would continue in that vein.
PATCH: Will all the women keep in touch?
HUFFMAN: I don’t know. I think Eva’s going to go off and run the world which is good. Marcia’s got her two kids. Yeah, I think that we’ll be in touch.
PATCH: Do you agree with the reporters who say Desperate Housewives changed TV?
HUFFMAN: I’m not versed well enough in TV to say if it changed TV, but I certainly know that in terms of having women over 40 be viable choices to lead a show, this completely changed the landscape. I don’t think you can look at the rocket ship that is Desperate Housewives and deny that women in their 40s can. Look around TV, particularly cable right now. It’s strong women, late 30s/40s. I think that changes things.
PATCH: How did it change you personally?
HUFFMAN: Well, certainly it’s given me a bigger profile. I’m certainly more well known. I think for the shelf life that celebrity lasts, which I assume will be like six months after the show ends, people will take my calls. And also just in terms of being an actress and playing the same part, I think it’s been helpful to have to keep it fresh and keep it alive.