When Marc Cherry was penning the first season of his Lifetime hit, Devious Maids, he knew he was creating a twisty storyline and complex characters that would leave viewers and the network often wondering what exactly he was up to. The one thing he never doubted? The appeal of Evelyn and Adrian Powell, the wickedly funny, super-secretive society couple whose lives were long ago shattered by tragedy.
“One of the things I did foresee was how much everyone would come to love the character of Evelyn Powell because I knew she and Adrian had this twisted household, but they are a strong couple with this tragic back ground with the death of their young son,” Cherry explains. “I knew playing this couple arch and so deliciously wicked would grow into something tragic and would give those characters very unexpected empathy. I am happy to say that Lifetime maybe had their doubts in the beginning, and then everyone at Lifetime — along with the fans — were like, ‘Evelyn and Adrian are our favorite characters!’ That’s the thing you hope for as a writer, that people will stick with you as you pull back the curtain and reveal more. I think that’s what draws people back to the show.”
For Rebecca Wisocky, the stage-trained, regal beauty who perfectly embodies the scheming, spoiled — and, this season, all sexed-up — Evelyn, having Cherry’s prognostication play out has been equally gratifying.
“It’s especially been fun for me because Evelyn is such a raging bitch,” Wisocky chuckles. “But people seem to be rooting for her and seeing all of her positive qualities. I’m not sure she deserves as much love as she’s getting but I am certainly tickled by it and thankful for it!”
Wisocky first crossed paths with the Desperate Housewives scribe when she gave a brief but memorable turn as Bree’s mother in the final city of the long-running ABC nighttime soap. She says having a fresh chance to bring Cherry’s words to life was a “dream come true.”
“It felt like kismet,” Wisocky recalls. “I was honored to get to do that, and then very shortly thereafter, I was asked to come in and meet Marc Cherry for this. I don’t know if this would have happened if he had not seen me do that so it all felt like kismet. Certainly this role is a perfect fit and I am having a blast — and I know how lucky I am. The writers are very, very kind to me and Tom (Irwin, who plays Adrian) and we are both having a great time.”
Asked what she thought of Evelyn when she first saw her on the page — and what it has been like to embody her particularly unique version of evolution since, Wisocky is pragmatic.
“It’s something that Marc Cherry does really, really well — he paints in broad strokes and then he fills them in with such complexity that you never could have anticipated. And it’s very juicy and satisfying for an actor to be able to take a great big leap and do things that are just audacious and outrageous and know that there is going to be backstory that fills it in and explains that behavior. That doesn’t necessarily excuse it, but it allows people a way in, a way of relating. Evelyn doesn’t believe that she’s a villain. She’s just trying to make her way in the world and she’s really just a women with a broken heart who, despite having every privilege afforded her — or possibly because of having every privilege afforded her —she can’t see past her own pain. And that’s a brand of narcissism that’s grotesque, but I think people also can see why she is the way she is.”
With the show’s Devious Army of fans bracing themselves for a wild ride up to its Season 2 finale on July 13, we asked Wisocky to share a little bit more about the duplicitous Mrs. Powell.
Channel Guide Magazine: Do you feel like you know Evelyn now, or does she have the power to surprise every time a script lands in your hands?
Rebecca Wisocky: I have been consistently surprised. The fact that I have read and thought “Oh no, you can’t have her attack a homeless woman!” — even for Evelyn. Thankfully that actress was so game and the scene was handled in such a way that it wasn’t as horrible and bastardly as it might have been. Yeah, the things that give me the most pause end up being some of my favorite scenes to play. I hope they continue surprising us. I think that they will.
CGM: Even though they theoretically got away with murder in Season 1, Adrian and Evelyn were again thrown into a fresh hell at the start of Season 2 and reacted to that in very different ways. What was it like to get to march into this new dynamic with Tom Irwin?
RW: Well, we were laughing that we were given the freedom of having the world upend itself — because people do behave unlike themselves everyday and I think that with this couple there is no limit to what they can do, and certainly no limit to what they will do to one another.
Marc is right when he said there is a backbone and a thread that will connect them until the end of time — the sheer devastation over the loss of their child — and yeah, it’s been crazy. Both Tom and I thought we were just different people this year on a couple of occasions but that’s part of the fun of it, this partnership. I enjoy working with Tom Irwin so much and we get along so well and there’s such great chemistry with these characters. But we also work in a very similar way and enjoy figuring out the psychology behind why all these crazy things are things these human beings might actually do.
CGM: The introduction of Tony (Dominic Adams) into the mix this season was pretty much a stroke of brilliance, because it not only gave Evelyn and Adrian a new tool of combat, but it also allowed a fresh set of emotions and vulnerabilities to begin to emerge.
RW: Well I think you said the keyword — vulnerability. Part of the thing that has been so delightful is to watch a woman who, if nothing else, has her s–t together. She has this armor and it lets you believe she is very much in control. So to watch her be so out of control and so vulnerable and so youthful and giddy is delicious, but it’s also really dangerous. And you see Evelyn becomes even more vulnerable now that Adrian has seen with his own eyes what is going on between them.
And of course you know Tony is not necessarily what he seems — as most people in a Marc Cherry universe are not what they initially what they appear to be. There are so many little ticking time bombs this year on this show — nearly every one of the homes has a little ticking time bomb. There’s Ty in Spence and Carmen’s house. There is Reggie in Rosie’s house. There’s Tony in ours. Nicholas and Opal and Ethan — I mean there are all kinds of perils at Marisol’s. How those things are going to play out — and how they may actually be interrelated — will be exciting.
CGM: Marc also correctly predicted that viewers would be surprised to learn where Valentina ended up. Were you surprised at where Valentina ended up — and how’s that’s turned out?
RW: It has been great working with Edy in the Powell house this year! Everyone might have assumed that Adrian was immediately just going to hit on Valentina, but instead [the writers] took it to the most unlikely of places and she took on a daughterly kind of role in our house — which I thought was really lovely. There is so much grays and grotesque and elitism with the Powells, yet at the same time they lay themselves bare at every turn — so there are lots of fun contradictions with them.
CGM: Recappers and TV writers have had a field day listing best moments and best lines from each episode, but what have been some of your own personal favorite Evelyn moments so far.
RW: Oh, you can’t make me choose! I love all of them so much! I like coming up with bits, and I like the technicality of the way this women speaks very much. She has her own kind of way of speaking and turning a phrase. And even the smallest little things about the way she sashays across the room or a look that she will shoot Adrian, every little bit of it I’m finding delicious. At the risk of trying to sound like a ham, I’m trying to eke as many of these little moments out of this stuff as possible.
CGM: I interviewed Judy Reyes and Susan Lucci at the beginning of Season 2 as well and they both talked about the power and connection of this particular cast and crew. What’s your take?
RW: It really truly is, and that’s remarkable in that it’s such a large cast — and it’s such a large cast with so many strong, interesting women. I’m proud to be a member of this ensemble, I really feel like it’s a strong ensemble of actors and again it’s been cast so well and we’re all so very different. We bring different skills and strengths and music to the table so no one’s really going to be competing for the same thing. We are all really rooting for each other and learning from each other, too. So yeah, I feel very lucky. I hope we get a chance to continue.
New episodes of Devious Maids premiere Sundays at 10/9CT on Lifetime.