Monday, June 27, 2011

With Body of Proof, Dana Delany takes on a role that's close to her heart


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Proof positive

With Body of Proof,
Dana Delany
takes on a role that's
close to her heart

By Eric Kohanik

Dana Delany has rarely been typecast.

"I don't like to repeat myself," she says. That's why some fans remember her as a brave army nurse on the 1980s hit China Beach and others recall her as the scantily clad dominatrix she played in the '90s big-screen comedy Exit to Eden.

Most recently though, TV buffs knew her as a cold and conniving resident of the fictional Wisteria Lane.

"I had the best year," says the 55-year-old, contemplating her final days playing Katherine Mayfair on Desperate Housewives. "I went to the loony bin, and I became a lesbian!"

Now, with the melodrama behind her, the New York native is giving life to a decidedly more grounded character in Body of Proof. It's a part, she says, that is close to her heart.

Of all the roles you've played, who does Body of Proof medical examiner Megan Hunt resemble the most?

I'd say she is going back to my China Beach days. This character feels very close to me.

Why is that?

It's funny, I've always been more drawn to doctors than lawyers in terms of my acting. I think in another life I was a doctor. My grandfather was a doctor. I do love the medical stuff. For this, I went and saw an autopsy. I encourage everyone to see an autopsy. It's fantastic. It will make you really want to take care of your body and have even more awe for what we've all been given.

So, how do you take care of your body?

I do yoga. That's it. Yoga.

Megan is in a car crash in the pilot episode of the show. I gather that the scene struck a bit close to home?

Yeah, I was hit by a bus two weeks before we started filming. I broke two fingers and my car was totalled, exactly like the accident in the pilot. I was in Santa Monica, 8:30 in the morning. I was making a left-hand turn and I was hit by a bus. It hit my passenger side. I'm lucky to be alive. And the irony is, when I got out of the car, the bus driver said to me, "I know who you are. Can I have your autograph?"

Megan works a lot and doesn't have much of a life outside of her job. Have you ever been at that point in your real life where you realize that you're working too hard?

Well, I love to act, so it doesn't feel like work to me. You know, you get that family feeling on a series. Still, there are long hours involved with a TV commitment.

What's the secret to coping?

The key is good food. You gotta have the fuel. I learned that. And sleep.

Do you miss your Desperate Housewives colleagues?

I had a ball on the show. I had a great three years. And, yeah, I miss my friends there. It really became a family, but I'm always up for the next adventure. When ABC came to me with this opportunity, it was kind of an offer I couldn't refuse. And [Housewives executive producer] Marc Cherry was great. He said, "I don't want to get in the way of you having a lead in a show, so I wish you well and you're always welcome back." I feel very blessed.

(First published in Hello! Canada weekly magazine - April 4, 2011.)