Fresh from playing a mother in crisis on the final, storm-tossed Desperate Housewives episodes (Sundays, 9 pm/ET, ABC) before the strike, Felicity Huffman traveled to the Sundance Film Festival for her new project Phoebe in Wonderland, in which she plays… a mother in crisis. Huffman, a real-life mother of two with husband William H. Macy, plays a character who fears she's a failure at both parenting and her career as she tries to help a daughter, played by 9-year-old Elle Fanning, who could be mentally ill — or maybe just "different." TVGuide.com caught up with Huffman in Park City, Utah.
TVGuide.com: There's been talk that Lynette may face the death of one of her children. Do you like that idea, or do you think it's too much? Would it tap too deeply?
I think that's a great idea. If you're an actor, you want to tap too deeply. It's great drama. And it's true, children die, and parents have to go on because they have other children.
TVGuide.com: Do you put some of your own experiences as a mother into your parts?
You can't separate who you are from the role. You bring your stuff into the role. And I bring in my stuff as a mother. I just want to add this caveat that I don't know what the f--k I'm talking about with parenting. But I think one of the primary responsibilities of a parent is to see their child. Not as they would like them to be or who they hope they are or who they project, but who they truly are. I think that's a challenge. Also it's to protect your children. The system wants to, to a certain extent, homogenize them, because [that way] they're just easier to handle. One wild, crazy kid throws the whole class off. So they want to homogenize and package them, and everyone's got to be the same, and if they're not, let's medicate them. So you have to balance protecting your child's autonomy with seeing if they actually need help to function in this world.
TVGuide.com: How do you like working in movies vs. working in television?
Desperate Housewives is unique because there are five of us, which means five storylines, so we all don't work all the time. I love being home and I don't really like to travel, so I love TV — it's like doing a little one-act play every week. If I could throw in a movie every so often, that'd be swell, too.
TVGuide.com: Are you worried about the effects of the writers' strike on the show?
I guess so. I hope it's steel-plated and makes it through.
TVGuide.com: What's your ideal job description?
I'd love to do a cable show. I'd love to do 13 episodes a year so I don't have to work 10 months or 11 months a year. And then I'd love to fill up [the rest of the time] with downtime and a movie.
TVGuide.com: When people recognize you on the street, what do they say?
It's a lot of moms, which I love, who say, '"That's my life, I have two kids." I'm grateful for it. I'm happy to be part of that group.
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