Sarah Shahi's got a cool cop show, a hot new look — and she's getting married. What's not to love? We talked to the Life (Oct. 6 at 10 pm/ET, NBC and then Fridays at 10 pm) star about what's ahead for Dani this season, her stint on

The L Word and growing up in Texas with a name like Aahoo.

TV Guide: Your character on Life, cop Dani Reese, is looking pretty hot this season. Did she get a makeover?
Sarah Shahi:
My hair is down! You will never see that bun again. We wanted to make the show a little sexier, a bit more fun. [Laughs] Next thing, a bikini.

TV Guide: So what's up for the crack detective and recovering addict?
Dani has a love interest! And she has a relapse.

TV Guide: Could it be her new boss who's smitten?
Captain Tidwell [Donal Logue] and Dani do get it on. She's really surprised she's taken by him. He says the most inappropriate things and has about 18 ex-wives.

TV Guide: What makes her start drinking again? Her father's involvement in framing her partner, Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), for murder?
Dani does finally confront her father about that conspiracy, and it does not go well. But she could also be drinking because she finds herself vulnerable with this possible Tidwell relationship.

TV Guide: How's working with Damian Lewis?
I just wish he'd keep his hands off me, that hound. No, he's a happily married man. We laugh a lot and we sing a lot.

TV Guide: Do you like being surrounded by guys on the show?
I love being surrounded by a bunch of charismatic men, but when we have a female guest star, I'm like, "You're my new best friend!" I do talk to the female crew about gyno visits, men and tequila. My favorite subjects.

TV Guide: I bet you had plenty of gyno chat on The L Word. Did you think twice about joining that lusty lesbian drama?
No, I was broke. But I had a wonderful time. When I got to the set, I was introduced to Kate Moennig [who plays Shane], and then the director said, "OK, Kate, in this scene you're [servicing] Sarah." I was like, "Oh, boy, I hope my mom never sees this." But she was cool.

TV Guide: On screen, you're fearless — lots of sexy scenes without many clothes. Are you as free in real life?
I am. Sometimes to my fiancé's frustration, I walk around the house naked with the windows up and don't even think about it. My mother's a very liberal woman from Spain who taught me there's no difference between your hand and your breast.

TV Guide: Who's your fiancé?
Steve Howey. He was on Reba. He has the most amazing heart I've ever come across.

TV Guide: Sarah Shahi's not your real name, is it?
No, it's Aahoo, which means gazelle in Farsi. Aahoo Jahansouz Shahi.

TV Guide: Your dad's from Iran. Was he conserva­tive in your upbringing?
My parents divorced when I was 10, but when my father was there, he was trying to cre­ate almost like a little prison for me. There's all sorts of issues with my dad that have helped me with this charac­ter. He had addiction problems, too.

TV Guide: Don't you have a connection to the former Iranian royal family?
I do. My great-great-grandfather was a shah back in the 1800s. Unfortunately, I don't have any gold coins or jewels to show for it.

TV Guide: What was it like growing up Spanish-Iranian in Euless, Texas?
It's a tiny little town and a charming place to grow up. But every boy I liked never liked me back. To be beautiful in Texas, you had to be blonde and blue-eyed and have a name like Ann. Aahoo was a little weird for them.

TV Guide: Tell us something surprising about you.
My biggest fantasy was to have a pie thrown in my face, and I always said who­ever did that, that's the guy I'd marry. My other boyfriends never had the nerve, but on my birthday two years ago, Steve threw a big gooey pie in my face. It was awesome.

Watch our video Q&A with Sarah and Life costar Damian Lewis!