Richard Burgi, <EM>Desperate Housewives</EM> Richard Burgi, Desperate Housewives

When ABC's Desperate Housewives premiered in 2004, the character of Susan's ex-husband, Karl, was almost a cipher, played here and there by TV vet Richard Burgi, who that mid-season was otherwise committed to Point Pleasant. Well, call it a pleasant surprise when the Fox series' short-lived nature led the actor to a full-time gig on Wisteria Lane for Housewives' sophomore year. And boy, has Karl been mixing things up, having Edie thinking "wedding" while it's Susan that he's bedding! TVGuide.com saw this as a ripe opportunity to chat up the actor about Karl's questionable next move as well as his more-interesting-than-we-knew 24 past.
 
TVGuide.com: On Sunday's episode, Karl breaks up with Edie. How does that go over?
Richard Burgi:
Well, let's put it this way: It doesn't go over very well. It's met with some, uh, anger, as you could imagine, and a buildup of venom.

TVGuide.com: Does anything get thrown? That Edie likes to throw stuff.
Burgi:
Yeah, I think she gets a little "hot." She puts a little mojo out there. All kinds of things happen as a result of it. The fallout is chaotic and widespread.

TVGuide.com: For how long, though, will she be in the dark about his romp with Susan?
Burgi:
It's actually revealed rather soon. She finds out with some prodding and assiduous investigation. Once she finally comes to terms with it, she takes action and it's, uh, not pretty.

TVGuide.com: But we love it when the women go at it.
Burgi:
God, you will see some women going at it in some very interesting situations. Yeah, there's nothing like a good catfight.

TVGuide.com: From where I've been sitting every Sunday night, you seem to be having a lot of fun now as a series regular.
Burgi:
I'm having so much fun. I pinch myself all the time. "This is my life, right?" The women are wonderful, the writing is so much fun, my character is a kick.... They give me a lot of latitude just to get out there and play.

TVGuide.com: You could tell during Season 1 that they were tentative about investing too much in Karl, because of your Point Pleasant thing.
Burgi:
Exactly. I started the character and then I went away to do Point Pleasant. But when that fizzled out, I was able to come back and really have some fun.

TVGuide.com: A lightbulb that exploded on set the other day scratched Teri Hatcher's cornea. How is she doing?
Burgi:
Oh, my god, the poor thing. I had just left the set [before it happened]. I called her that night and she told me about it. I was blown away. Fortunately, the cornea is the quickest-healing part of the eye. She's such a trouper, man a hardworking lady and a good sport.

TVGuide.com: Do you have to laugh at the media exposure that such a thing gets these days, especially with the Housewives? I mean, back in your days as The Sentinel, your entire leg could have snapped off and it wouldn't grab a headline.
Burgi:
[Laughs] I had a lot of little things that went on during The Sentinel  I almost lost my eye and I got cuts and bruises.... But the women, they get all the attention. They get all the love. The guys, we're just the drones. We work our asses off and our hands get calloused, but when we want to put them on soft skin, do they really appreciate it? [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Speaking of The Sentinel, you were once on 24, and now Kiefer Sutherland has a movie out called The Sentinel.
Burgi:
I know! I'm not taking it personally, but it's very interesting to see that title on the marquees and to see the ads.

TVGuide.com: I consider your 24 character Alan York, the "worried father" who "helped" Teri Bauer find Kim during Season 1  a seminal one, as he was the first to show us that no one on this show can be taken at face value.
Burgi:
Right, right. It was a nice character arc. Originally, I was kept in the dark and then they finally told me what was going on. I had a lot of fun with that show.... Eh, that's a long story, I'm not going to bore you with the details.

TVGuide.com: What happened, you got killed off sooner than you would have liked?
Burgi:
No, no, no. Actually, the producers had wanted me for that show, but the network wanted Kiefer [as the lead], so....

TVGuide.com: Having been there on Day 1, could you tell 24 had legs?
Burgi:
You know, the same thing happened with Desperate Housewives: I really didn't think anything other than what we were doing was interesting. I liked the 24 script, which is why I was so passionate about it. When Kiefer got the role, [series cocreator] Joel Surnow called me and said, "I'm really sorry. But we'd still like to have you be a part of the show." They offered me the role of Alan York and I said, "Yep! Love it!" And then when I saw where they were going with it, I thought, "This could go either way. It could be really, really dark and taken down a rough road and be on the receiving end of criticism about its content, or it could break new ground."

TVGuide.com: You played an in-the-closet action-movie star in the TV series Action. Too bad that show didn't get its due.
Burgi:
Oh, yeah... that show was really fun. It might have been a little too ahead of its time and a little too "insular" in its content. You really had to have a sense of who the players were to get a lot of the jokes.

TVGuide.com: But now, look at Entourage  in many ways a similar concept.
Burgi:
The proliferation of all these shows, with entertainment as a media form, all these entertainment shows that are in constant cycle... it's grown exponentially since Action was around.

TVGuide.com: What are your plans for hiatus?
Burgi:
I'm going to Vancouver for four weeks to shoot a movie. I play a firefighter  and that's all I'm going to tell you. [Chuckles] It's with Scott Foley.

TVGuide.com: What can you tease about Housewives' season finale? What should we make of the rumor that Susan will discover she's pregnant?
Burgi:
I've heard that rumor.... [Evil laugh] It's very possible that since she and Karl "got together," something comes out of that. But I don't think there's anything I can say about that.

TVGuide.com: Will you be back for Season 3?
Burgi:
Myself? I don't know. Nobody knows. If the show is back, I'll probably be coming back to stir up some s---. The cliff-hanger is interesting in how it leaves several of us in a place where we're sort of... uncertain.

TVGuide.com: Moldavian terrorists show up and shoot up the joint, eh?
Burgi:
Yes. [Laughs] No, the cliff-hanger has some fun stuff, though.

TVGuide.com: What's on your wish list for Karl? Do you like him always being this side of being a pr---k?
Burgi:
I wish they would have let Karl and Edie have some fun, and maybe let Karl have his day in the sun. He's a changed man, and you can't really blame a guy for his past indiscretions. There's always a possibility of recidivism, but the redemption should flow though this "rehabilitation" to let us see Karl in a new way, with maybe a 25- or 30-year-old, someone like that. Bring back Amber [his Season 1 floozy girlfriend]. Where did she go?! No, are you kidding  I love Susan to death. I'm faithful to the end. But I don't think there's any problem, Matt, in having more than one love, OK? [Laughs]