Desperate Housewives

Interview: Katherine Mayfair

Katherine Mayfair


Wednesday 04 March 2009

Dana Delany dishes the dirt and chats about all things Wisteria Lane. Find out who she gets on best with on-set, why she originally turned down the role of Bree, and how much of a housewife she is in real life.

You came into Desperate Housewives in Series 4, so three series after all the other housewives. What was it like entering into such a close-knit group?

It felt kind of like the new kid at school - you know, it felt like my first day at school. In the positive sense it was easy because it's a very well run show, they've ironed out all the kinks. Everyone gets along contrary to what people were saying in the beginning - there's no catfights on set or anything like that. And also because I've been working for so long, I knew almost all the actors beforehand. I didn't know Eva because she's younger and for whatever reason I'd never met Nicolette but I knew the other women and I knew a lot of the husbands too - so that was easy, that was good.

The hardest thing for me was figuring out the tone of the piece because it's such a specific tone. So it was more of an acting challenge than anything else. They make it look really easy but it's not - they're so good at throwing it away and just playing it very real. So, once I got in there I realised how easy they made it look because it's hard, getting that balance between comedy and drama.'

Out of all the housewives, who do you get on best with?

I think Marcia Cross because most of my scenes are with her and we have a lot of the same friends. We have a group of people that play charades so we have these games nights in Santa Monica - we're big game players. This is how boring it is in LA - there's nothing to do there. If you don't go to the clubs - which we're way to old for now - you stay at people's houses and you play games!

So, we play charades - Felicity Hoffman is a killer charades player. She's very competitive. And Mark Cherry's a really good game player.

From what we've seen of Katherine Mayfair, she's a pretty tough cookie and quite harsh at times. What's it like to play a character like that?

I think it's more fun ultimately when you play an edgy character like that. At first it took me back how mean she was - but then Mark Cherry explained to me that he saw here as a kind of a JR Ewing character that needed to be the alpha female on the block so then I started having more fun with it.

You were originally offered the role of Bree. Why did you turn it down?

I had done a series called Pasadena and I thought the role was very similar to that of Bree, and I felt like I'd already played that part. I'm an actor, I don't think about career I just like to act and I didn't want to repeat myself. And then it became a huge hit and I sort of had a couple of those 3am moments of did I make a mistake? And I was just really lucky that Mark came back to me and asked me to be on it.

So what do you think about how Marcia Cross plays Bree, and how would you have played her differently?

Oh, Marcia's made Bree so much her own, I can't even imagine anybody else in that part. I think she found the pathos in Bree that wasn't written in the character originally. She really saw the heart underneath it and she's made it really funny. She's found the humour there too - that dead, serious, straight humour.

Whereas I think Katherine is a little bit more sly and clever. Katherine knows when she's screwing around with people but sometimes Bree doesn't know it. Katherine's very quick. I think of her as kind of like an animal - she's very instinctual, and if she feels at all trapped she has a really strong fight or flight syndrome where she kind of lashes back.

You've starred in quite a few different TV programmes and films. What's been your favourite role to date and why?

I'm just lucky that I haven't been typecast - you know, that I've got to do so many different things. Probably my first big TV role which was China Beach where I played an army nurse in Vietnam - that will always be a favourite of mine because it really got my career going and it was such a great role. Great character - very three-dimensional.

Movies? I've had a lot of fun. Probably my favourite was a more obscure movie called Light Sleeper that Paul Schrader directed and I played a drug addict in that and that was a good role.

Out of TV, film and theatre - which do you prefer?

I like it all because they're all different. TV I like because it keeps evolving and you can keep developing the character. Films are great just because it's a little jewel. And stage - the older I get the more I appreciate stage, especially as the roles are better for women the older you get. Like Shakespeare, there are great roles for older women. Or Chekov - you know, classic roles. So, I can see myself going back to the theatre.

Is there a strong, female part that you'd just really love to play?

Yeah, I'd really like to play Cleopatra - from Shakespeare. I'd love to do that. I was working with a woman called Patsy Rodenburg, the voice coach for the RSC. She and I were working together on it, and it would be a really fun role to do on stage.

So, to find out how much of a housewife you really are, we've devised a test. Are you up for it?

Ok, I like tests.

Ok, question one. How many is a baker's dozen?


Correct - you get one point.

Question two. What are the main ingredients of short-crust pastry?

Sugar, flour and butter?

It's flour, butter and eggs.

Oh eggs. I was thinking of short bread.

Question three. If you're using a purl stitch, you are... a) doing crochet, b) knitting, c) doing tapestry


Knitting, correct - another point.

Fourth and final question. What makes up the filling of a traditional Victoria sponge cake? Is it a) buttercream and chocolate, b) buttercream and jam, c) buttercream and dried fruit

I'd say the jam option.

Correct - three points out of four.

Well done Dana, you've passed our test and can now quite rightfully call yourself a fully fledged housewife. Now back to the kitchen...


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  1. I can't quite imagine anyone else playing Bree either. Desperate Housewives is my favourite TV show for so many reasons...
    Posted by Ally_London on 01/04/2009 03:22:37
    Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment
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