It's been eight seasons since Mary Alice Young put a revolver to her head and pulled the trigger on the first episode of Desperate Housewives. But the woman behind the voice of Wisteria Lane isn't ready to give up the ghost just yet.
"The reality of the loss of the show hasn't really hit me yet," Brenda Strong tells TVGuide.com of the series' end. "I have a feeling as the season progresses, it's going to be hard for me not to cry when I do the voice-over simply because it means so much to me and the show has meant so much to me."
However, the actress is getting ready to say goodbye in a big way. Producers have stated that the drama's final season will feature more on-screen appearances by Mary Alice. Following her continued presence during the first season — when the main mystery revolved around why she killed herself — Strong has appeared occasionally in flashbacks and in dreams. "I think it gives a sense of closure when you tie those two story lines back together," Strong says. "I'm really excited to see how they weave the Young family back into what's currently happening on Wisteria Lane because it's not an easy task."
Strong says she's already started shooting — specifically a scene returning to the day her character committed suicide. Another possible upcoming story line, Strong says, is an episode examining what would have happened if she hadn't taken her life. "That's the rumor that I heard. How would everyone's lives be different if Mary Alice hadn't committed suicide? I think that's a really interesting concept and it explores this idea that we're all connected," she says. "This season, they have a very strong vision of how they want to bring her back."
Although it's been some time since Strong appeared on-screen in Housewives, she says her preparation for appearing on-screen is not much different from her voice-over preparation. "Mary Alice really is, in many ways, the moral fiber of the show. She's the voice that allows the audience to relate to all of those really kind of crazy things that happen on Wisteria Lane and she brings it back into a human context," she says. "I'm just going to miss the ability to be that heart-centered voice of all the women on Wisteria Lane."
Last month, that voice earned Strong her first Emmy nomination — for outstanding voice-over performance. The actress admits she initially had trepidation to answer such an early-morning phone call when her manager rang to give her the good news. "I'm just so incredibly honored because the overwhelming response from everyone that I've talked to is, 'It's about time. It is your turn,'" she says. "I don't necessarily feel that way, but the fact that other people feel that way is very supportive."
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Strong is receiving acclaim for her portrayal of Mary Alice just as she is preparing to jump into a very different role: Bobby Ewing's wife, Ann, on TNT's upcoming Dallas remake. "Mary Alice in a lot of ways was very restricted in her ability to be expressed because she did kill herself in the first episode. My hands have been a bit tied and I feel like the gloves have just come off," she says. "Even though I'm Bobby Ewing's wife, she is not a wallflower. This is a woman who's got resources of her own and is really complex and fiercely loyal and one to be reckoned with. I think she will be able to go toe-to-toe with J.R. if push comes to shove."
Although her multiple gigs have kept her busy — she is recording her voice-overs for Housewives from Texas while also learning how to shoot and ride for the upcoming series — Strong welcomes her packed schedule. "It's been an insane creative convergence," she says, "a multiplicity of good fortune."
Desperate Housewives returns Sunday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c on ABC. TNT's Dallas premieres next summer.