It’s tempting to think that having spent four decades embodying All My Children‘s unforgettable Erica Kane — earning critical acclaim and worldwide fame in the process — Susan Lucci would be content to relax and enjoy the spoils of her success when the show ended in 2011.
Instead, the passionate and thoroughly charming actress went right out and landed herself a new role that’s every bit as delicious as Ms. Kane in Genevieve Delatour, the fallen (and funny!) socialite on Marc Cherry’s Devious Maids, now airing its second Season on Lifetime.
“When All My Children was no longer on ABC and I wouldn’t be playing Erica, my wish list was to find a part that I was as excited about as I had been when I read the audition scenes for Erica Kane,” Lucci says. “And the second part of that wish list was to be in good hands — and if I am going to follow this great writing from Agnes Nixon, my God, to be in the hands of the amazing Marc Cherry, who makes us laugh when we are reading our scripts and makes us drop our jaws because of the twists and turns he comes up that are emotional as well as hilarious. It’s just a gift!
And though she’s endlessly grateful for the loyal legions who have followed her from All My Children to Maids, Lucci is equally delighted to discover she has a new generation of admirers too young to be raised on Kane.
“Season 1 was just ending and we had been at an event in New York, and it got to be to late, so we didn’t go to the after party,” she recalls. “We went to Gray’s Papaya on Broadway & 76th because my husband loves hot dogs and especially loves theirs and he was craving them. It was close to midnight and there was a teenage girl who was with her older brother and mother — they were visiting New York — and this 15-year-old girl flew in and she said, ‘Aren’t you, Genevieve Delatour! Aren’t you on Devious Maids!?’ That was the first time a fan stopped me who had not seen anything else I have ever done. It was purely from Devious Maids! It’s wonderful to be relevant in the present time!”
Whether you’re a lifelong fan or a newly-minted Delatour disciple, you’re sure to learn something about the inimitable La Lucci as she tackles our 7 Questions.
1. You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?
Harper’s Bazaar. O Magazine, because I love Oprah. And Veranda, which is a decorating magazine.
2. If your TV carried just three shows, which would you want?
Devious Maids, obviously! Deadly Affairs, which is the show I do for Investigation Discovery. There’s a whole slew of people who are so addicted to Investigation Discovery that there’s a website for it, so how lucky am I to work in two such amazing places? And then The Voice. Adam Levine — talk about eye candy! But I love both Shakira and Christina Aguilera. They’re so gorgeous and also such talented woman. And they’re all so great bringing these young artists along and recognizing their talent. And Usher is, as my husband says, one cool cat! A cool cat — but also so warm. Their comments are all so true, without destroying the talent.
3. What has been your strangest fan encounter?
It’s a bit of a long story. My husband and I were in British Virgin Gorda, and we had taken a boat one day and they had dropped us off on what was supposed to be a deserted island with a picnic lunch. They were going to come back and pick us up later. So there we were on what we thought was a deserted island and we spread the blanket and put up the CinZano umbrella and were going to have our picnic lunch. All of a sudden, walking down the beach, was a line of about 6-8 men coming toward us, and they all had a different tool in their hand. The man in the front had a hammer and someone had a saw and so on and so forth. And they came up to us and began to circle us! They were looking at us and circling and I had never been so scared in my life! After about two times around, the lead man with the hammer in his hand looked at me and said, “Erica Kane?” [Laughs]
They turned out to be the nicest men in the world. They were a construction crew who had been hired to build a recording studio at the top of a mountain on that deserted island for a British rock group. And I guess part of their agreement was that they would not leave the island at night and they had a satellite dish where they could watch All My Children. That was what they watched!
4. Tell me about a time when you yourself were starstruck.
That’s easy! Without sounding like “poor me,” it was a time where the American standard of beauty onscreen was definitely blue-eyed blondes, and I grew up in a community where I looked different from everybody with my dark hair, dark eyes and olive skin. As a little girl, I watched a lot of movies, and I loved Houseboat with Sophia Loren. As I grew up she was a big, international movie star — and she had my coloring and an Italian name! So I really admired her tremendously my whole life.
So the first time I saw her, I was in Paris shooting the last season of Dallas. I had a day off, my first day off, and I went to Chanel in Paris — because I had never been to Chanel before, anywhere. My husband was playing golf that morning, so I went over to Chanel, and they said, “Oh, you’ve come at a good time!” Because it was August and the Parisians were all away, and they said they had all sizes in all their things. So the saleswoman helped me with the first thing I had ever bought at Chanel, but I asked her if she could hold it until my husband met me after he came off the golf course, because I didn’t want to make that purchase without him seeing it. So she agreed and she was going to hold it for me in the holding area — and as she moved away with my red Chanel blouse and my suit, Sophia Loren was sitting in the chair behind her. And she was more beautiful in person than I had ever seen on movie screens.
It was very, very hot that summer in Paris — it’s always hot, but it was especially hot. Almost too hot to shop, which is saying a lot for me [laughs]. But Sophia Loren looked magnificent. No trace that there was a heatwave going on. And I can still remember, she was sitting in a chair and she had on this sky blue, beautiful silk dress with elbow-length sleeves and a square neckline, showing off her gorgeous figure. Long, long legs and creamy, creamy skin. I would not dream of interrupting her, I would not dream of speaking to her, but just seeing her, I was so thrilled! And she must have felt someone staring at her and she looked up and just smiled. Then I realized that I was invading her private time, so I stepped away — but I smiled and she smiled back. I was thrilled! And as you can tell, I still have total recall of that experience.
5. What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Yogurt. Cereal — preferably organic, and I’m eating gluten free at the moment. Well, I’m trying. [Laughs] And since I can only have three things, I couldn’t have all the things to make into spaghetti sauce and veal meatballs — so a take-home thing from my favorite Italian restaurant of veal meatballs and rigatoni!
6. How does Genevieve differ the most from Erica Kane — or Susan Lucci?
She is less self-reliant than either Erica Kane or I — and at the same time she is not a victim nor see herself as a victim in any way. And she is more vulnerable than Erica was, and more hopeful and romantic. She is optimistic and needs romance in her life certainly, looking and hoping she will not be alone the rest of her life.
7. What has been the best part of working so closely with Judy Reyes and Edy Ganem?
What can I say! Love at first sight! All three of us have great chemistry, onscreen and off. Edy is a wonderful actress, holds her own, certainly, in every setting, and I love her work with Drew. Off-camera, she is such a sweetheart; we text back and forth alot. Edy is our go to text guide about Twitter and Instagram, the app to make our phone photos better, our selfies. She is the maven of all of that. Warm and sweet and smart, Judy is warm and smart and sweet and funny, oh my goodness! My husband and I recently went out to dinner with her and her husband and they are both so warm and inviting. I met her daughter onset and she is just a little love muffin, just takes your heart.
New episodes of Devious Maids premiere Sundays at 10/9CT on Lifetime.