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Eva Longoria: From Desperate Times to Harsh Times

She may only be 5’2”, but “big” is a word you can’t get away from when talking about Eva Longoria. She became a big breakout star on a big network TV hit as Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives, and now she’s starring on the big screen in Harsh Times opposite big blockbuster star Christian Bale, written and directed by big-time filmmaker David Ayer, making his directoral debut after crafting the scripts for Training Day and The Fast and the Furious. And Eva had a lot of big talk for Hollywood.com.

Hollywood.com: It’s hard to find good movie roles when you’re tied into a strict TV production schedule. Where did this movie fall into your schedule?
Eva Longoria:
Three years ago. It was our first month of Desperate Housewives. I did it on Christmas break, so I was on the air for like two months. You can tell by my bangs how old it was. It was fairly long ago and I just jumped at the chance to play something that was really far from Desperate Housewives. Something dark, something heavy, something intense. David Ayer came to me and said, “I’ve got this script” and I was like, “Yes!” I mean, I just wanted to work with him. I was a big fan of Training Day , a big of fan of everything about it. The characters, and not just because of Denzel. All of the characters in Training Day  were really flushed out and really had some interesting back stories and then LA itself was a character. The backdrop of Los Angeles I think David is doing for L.A. what Scorsese does for New York. You know, just really cast it as a great character in itself.

HW: Did you have a certain rapport with your co-star Freddy Rodriguez since you both have the TV background?
EL: Yeah. Freddy and I knew each other before we did the movie so it was easy. It’s always easy when you know someone who you’re going to have a love scene with. It was great because he was on his way out of Six Feet Under. They were finishing the season and it was a highly rated, highly critically acclaimed show and here I am starting. It was like one month into Desperate Housewives so he really gave me a lot of good advice. He’s like, “This is what you need to do. This is what’s going to happen. You’re going to have great years, good seasons, bad seasons.” That’s exactly what happened. Great first season and people didn’t like the second season. But, it’s a great third season. So he’s like, “You’re going to be on this rollercoaster until the show ends so just be prepared and stay grounded.” He was great.

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HW: How would you describe Freddy’s character Mike as a boyfriend?
EL: On a scale of 1 to 10 he was a 2 as far as effort. I mean really, it’s like, “Step up, will you?” It’s so funny because people go, “Why would she stay there in the movie. She’s so intelligent, so driven and she’s so ambitious. Why would she stay?” I think at the end of the day, she’s still a woman. A woman always wants to fix the man and take care of the man.

HW: But she did leave.
She did. See power of a woman. She knocked him into shape.

HW: Is there anything in your personal background that prepared you for the role in this movie?
EL: Yeah, I grew up in a similar neighborhood where it was predominately Hispanic. Gang members were pretty apparent everywhere. I was pretty familiar with this type of environment as well as these guys. I knew guys growing up who just can’t get their crap together. I didn’t date them, but I knew them. There is actually a real Sylvia and Mike that David Ayer knew. This is almost David Ayer life story. He wrote it from his experiences. I got to meet this Sylvia so that’s really where I got a lot of what I did was from her. She’s extremely tough and extremely different than how I played her, but pretty similar in how she was pretty loyal to Mike. Then we met Mike who was really a total loser. Freddy hung out with him more. Freddy’s like, “I haven’t learned anything from hanging out with this guy.”

HW: Did you question the real Sylvia as to why she’d be attracted to such a loser?
EL: Yeah I told him that. But, I just think at the end of the day, she’s a woman. Women want to fix men and change men and hope that they’re going to get their act together. She was more of a maternal character than anything else to him, like, “I have to take care of him.” She’d been with him since she was 12 and that’s the only man she’s ever known. We said we want to slap her, like, “Leave. Go.” Especially in my culture, we’re pretty loyal to our men not matter what. We put up with a lot.

HW: Most of your scenes are in apartments. Where did you shoot?
EL: In East L.A., just east of downtown. It was funny because we were in it. We were in the neighborhoods and L.A. would have blackouts the whole time. So all our power would go down and we’d be like, “Oh man.” And we’d have to wait.

HW: Beyond your admiration for Ayer, what was it about this movie that appealed to you?
EL: I really wanted to do something as fast as I could that was opposite of Desperate Housewives before people could only see me as Gabrielle, only see me as that character. I wanted to reach out and do something else that was going to show me in a different light. That’s why I really wanted to work with David and Christian and Freddy. I thought it was a great collaboration of talent so I said sign me up. Plus it was a 20-day shoot and it was a very fast shoot. I loved that it was independent and gritty. Christian came right off of Batman Begins to do this, I was just like, “Wow, what was he thinking with his $200 million to this $1 million little film?” We barely had trailers. We didn’t have craft services. It was really, really tight and we were shooting really fast because we don’t have enough time to get it all anyway. I was fascinated to see what he thought, but he does that all the time. He goes from everything. He’s amazing.

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HW: A lot of A-list celebs are doing more indie films.
Harsh Times is a great example. It’s all about the characters and it’s all about the story. It’s not about production value. It’s not about the crane shots. It’s not about explosions and cars. It was just really basic. It’s about these three people who have these relationships and I think an independent film is really capturing that right now and I think that’s why everybody’s so attracted to it.

HW: What kind of scripts are you getting now?
Everything. I get porn to period pieces. I got the Dallas script to another independent film like Harsh Times to Dead Fiance, which is a romantic comedy I just wrapped so it’s been all over the place.

HW: How are things on the Desperate Housewives set? Are you enjoying getting to really go at it with Ricardo Chavira as Gabrielle and Carlos continue to throw down in the split?
Yeah, I love the War of the Roses story. It reminds me of War of the Roses. I told Michael Douglas “We’re doing War of the Roses on Desperate Housewives. He’s like, “Oh no!” I’ve had a lot of fun. This War of the Roses kind of arc has been giving us a lot of opportunity for some great comedy so I really like that, over-the-top and physical. I love that. That’s my favorite.

HW: The show’s really rebounded for a disappointing second season. What’s different about the show’s producer and creator Marc Cherry’s involvement this year?
EL: It’s funny because it’s almost opposite in the sense that last season Marc was writing everything and we were so behind that he couldn’t tweak it. This year, he has really capable writers and now he’s tweaking instead of writing. He’s more setting the tone instead of him literally writing every word on the script. It was kind of bottleneck at the end of the season last year, and this year we’re five scripts ahead and there’s a lot of time for rewrites. We’re doing table reads, which is one thing we didn’t do last season. But this season we have so many sitcom writers that they’re so used to table reads and hearing their joke. “I gotta hear the joke. I gotta to hear the joke and I need to rewrite the joke.” So we do a lot of that.

–Reporting by Fred Topel

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