After several years of being in the press more for her drinking problems than her acting prowess, Kim Delaney is back on track, looking and feeling terrific. The former NYPD Blue and CSI: Miami fan favorite recently had a strong two-part role on Law & Order: SVU as a dangerously obsessed cop, and she starts a new Lifetime series, Army Wives, on June 3 (Sundays at 10 pm/ET), costarring JAG's Catherine Bell, Sally Pressman (Shark) and Wendy Davis (Commander in Chief), among others. She talked to us via phone from Charleston, South Carolina, where the show about military spouses is filming.
TVGuide.com: On your new show, you play Claudia Joy Holden, a colonel's wife living on an army base. Is she the local queen bee?
Kim Delaney: She does like to host parties, she likes to run things. But she also takes the new wives under her wing, and I think she's just trying to be a good mom, a good friend and a good wife.
TVGuide.com: But you don't want to mess with her, do you? She seriously takes on another officer's wife who spreads rumors about Claudia's husband (Brian McNamara) — ruining his chances for a promotion....
Delaney: My character's very loyal. I have my husband's back. [Laughs] It looks like I'm the perfect wife, but there are cracks there. That's more fun for me to play.
TVGuide.com: So what are her cracks?
Delaney: She hides some secrets, which is actually a lot of what Army Wives is about. All the wives have secrets.
TVGuide.com: How bad is Claudia's? Anything illegal?
Delaney: [Laughs] We'll start to find out in Episode 5. It might slow her down for a second, but it won't break her.
TVGuide.com: These wives seem like a very scary sorority. If you don't obey the rules, you're excommunicated.
Delaney: There are definitely rules in military life and you have to abide by them. But I don't think any of the wives are bad people. I hope we get across the passion that everybody has for the military, America and just for each other.
TVGuide.com: Military life is pretty topical these days. What are some of the issues Wives deals with?
Delaney: Some of the issues are surrogate mothers, domestic abuse, husbands being deployed, posttraumatic stress syndrome, parenting. We don't take a position on the war.
TVGuide.com: A lot of Lifetime shows have been pretty earnest. You've got producers from Grey's Anatomy (Mark Gordon) and Criminal Minds (Deborah Spera). Should we expect sex and violence?
Delaney: Well, I hope it's sexy — and fun. But it's also passionate and about universal emotions, like missing your husband when he's away. Every episode can go from romantic to tragic to amusing. That's what I love about it.
TVGuide.com: In your research, what have you learned about military spouses?
Delaney: They're extremely strong — because they have to be. They hold the family together while their spouses are away.
TVGuide.com: In most of your shows — NYPD Blue, Philly, CSI: Miami, for example — you've been surrounded by guys. You have four brothers in real life. What's it like swimming in a sea of estrogen now?
Delaney: It's so much fun because it's like I get to have sisters and just goof around. It's a different energy on set, we talk more, about everything from golf — I'm learning to play — to how your skin's looking. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You look very good these days — both on your recent SVU appearances and in this new show. Are you working out? What's changed?
Delaney: I always work out. I do Pilates and yoga. I'm just happy. Everything's good.
TVGuide.com: That's nice to hear. You've had some tough times over the last few years, including rehab for alcoholism for the second time just last year. How are you feeling?
Delaney: Everything is really good and I'm blessed. I don't know what else to say.
TVGuide.com: Do you have sympathy for Paris Hilton, who's heading to jail after being convicted of a DUI, or for the other young celebs with drug and alcohol problems in the news lately?
Delaney: Yes, I do have sympathy, absolutely. I would say I have compassion. They just need a helping hand.
TVGuide.com: Are you still with your long-term fiancé [producer Alan Barnette]?
Delaney: I have no steady [relationship] right now. I'm single. I had to make a few changes in my life.
TVGuide.com: You were married several times years ago. Do you want to get married again?
Delaney: If it makes sense, [but] not necessarily.
TVGuide.com: You're from Philadelphia and you've said you always wanted to come back east. Is Charleston now your home base?
Delaney: I still have a place in Los Angeles, but I would love that. My son (Jack Cortese) wants to go to college back east — we went around visiting campuses on spring break. Everything could work out really beautifully.
TVGuide.com: So things are better with your son? [Because of her alcohol problems, she lost custody of him in 2005.]
Delaney: Yeah, he's amazing. He takes my breath away every day. He's back in L.A. with my parents right now. The only way we could do this show was to have them go out west to stay with him. I'll do all the traveling back and forth.
TVGuide.com: All these years later, people still remember that emotional NYPD Blue episode when your character Diane Russell's great love Bobby Simone, played by Jimmy Smits, died. It's on a lot of "best" lists. Do you agree?
Delaney: It was probably one of the most difficult scenes I've ever done. Whoever walked on the set that day was crying — even before we started filming. It's definitely my favorite scene. It was beautiful.
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