EVA LONGORIA on 'THE SENTINEL' Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
April 9, 2006
In the conspiracy thriller The Sentinel, a secret service agent (Michael Douglas) in charge of security for the First Lady (Kim Basinger) is accused of masterminding a plot to assassinate the President. As he works to unravel a mystery and clear his name, he is pursued by a colleague and former confidant (Kiefer Sutherland) and a sharp rookie (Eva Longoria) who realizes that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.
In this interview, Eva Longoria talks about working on the movie, which included outshooting her co-stars while they were receiving gun training for their roles as secret service agents. The actress, who has been a favorite of entertainment publications thanks to her popularity on TV's Desperate Housewives and her relationship with basketballer Tony Parker (starting point guard of the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs), also spins a few amusing side-stories for us: she talks about the upcoming NBA Playoffs, life with the Universal Studios tram, and what to do when you find yourself with an uncooperative Ziploc bag.
MEDIA: Were you attracted to your role of secret service agent Jill Marin because she was neither desperate, nor a housewife?
EVA: [laughs] Exactly. I actually chose this role because it was the exact opposite of Desperate Housewives as a project, just in totality. And Jill Marin is actually closer to who I am as a person, so it was nice to play that. People keep saying, "It's such a stretch from Eva Longoria." And if you look at my earlier work, I always played the detective, I always played the cop. So Desperate Housewives was fun for me because I got to do something different. So this was returning to my roots.
Are you worried that people associate you too much with your Housewives character, Gabrielle Solis?
Yes and no. That's why I did The Sentinel, and that's why I chose this movie as my first movie coming out of Desperate Housewives, along with Harsh Times, the other film that's going to be out. I think especially in television, when you're seen in somebody's house every week, they do tend to only see you as that person. So I wanted to do something different early on and change it up. And The Sentinel really captures that, I think. You don't even see a glimpse of Gabrielle. At the beginning scene when Kiefer says, "Cover up, that's real revealing," I think Gabrielle would scoff at that and go, "You want to see revealing?" [laughs]
Is it true that you had prior real-life experience with guns?
Yes, I grew up on a ranch with my father, and so he educated us really early on about guns, and we used to go target shooting all the time. We would have boxes of target paper, and we'd just rip off a new target and put it up on a tree, and we'd shoot coffee cans and tin cans and Coke cans...Anything that exploded and made noise, we'd shoot it. [laughs] And then I did L.A. Dragnet before Desperate Housewives, and [for] that, actually, we had to go to two weeks of intense S.W.A.T. training here with the LAPD. And that was all firearms training and climbing buildings and jumping...I mean, it was like boot camp. And so that was really intense, and that kind of prepared me for this.
How did Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Douglas feel about you outperforming them at the shooting range?
They were pretty upset. They keep saying, "Stop talking about that! You're embarrassing us!" It was funny. First of all, women are better shooters, factually. They're just better target shooters. And so we went to the firing range...You know that little man that you get to shoot? All of mine were in the bull's-eye. I mean, right in the head, in the bull's-eye. Kiefer's were a little bigger and lower. [jokes] I was like, "What are you aiming at?" And then Michael's wasn't even on the man. I said he would have killed so many civilians and bystanders. The secret service trainers all had bets that Kiefer would get first, Michael would get second...And so Michael was upset that he didn't get to prove himself. [laughs]
Kiefer, Michael, and director Clark Johnson all have backgrounds in television work. Did that fact make you more comfortable with this project?
Yeah, it did, actually. I think it's funny that the dynamic of me in the movie is I'm the rookie agent and I'm underneath Kiefer and Michael, and that was really the dynamic we had in real life. I'm the rookie film girl, and they've done a hundred films each. And so it was comforting to know we all had a common thread of television. And especially with Clark Johnson, because he knew Kiefer and I had to be done by a certain date because we had our shows, and we were only available [for a limited] amount of time. So he was really conservative with the shooting days, where a lot of film directors could care less about your TV show. Also, the pace of the movie was actually quite fast. We shot a scene and moved on, shot a scene, moved on. We didn't waste a lot of time, and that's a very television director mentally.
How did you manage to run in those high heels?
[laughs] Well, I'm Latina. I think I was born with high heels. We crossed the border with high heels running from immigration. No, I'm just kidding! Those were low compared to what I'm used to wearing. I could do aerobics in heels.
With all of the tabloid press and paparazzi you have to deal with, is it even possible for you to get a moment of peace?
Oh, absolutely. I live in San Antonio, and I work in LA, and so I'm home every weekend...I can buy everybody Christmas gifts for the rest of my life with my [frequent flyer miles]! Really, Tony is the big celebrity, obviously, in San Antonio, and I never get bothered, and there's no paparazzi. So I relax every week and sleep.
As a fellow San Antonio Spurs fan, I have to ask about the upcoming NBA Playoffs: How much should we worry about the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons?
I could talk about basketball longer than the movie. We are worried about Dallas. We obviously just lost to them two days ago, but we're more worried about Detroit. They're just a monster. Nobody can even touch them in the East, much less the West, and they've had the same starting lineup their whole season. No injuries, no nothing. It's like they have this protective shield around them that they can't be stopped. Obviously for me, the [less time Tony spends in the playoffs], the more vacation we have together. But I would never, ever root for that! I really, really want San Antonio to get a back-to-back. It's just never been done in San Antonio.
What kind of film scripts were you getting once Desperate Housewives started gaining popularity?
I was getting everything. It's funny, people would always say, "Are you getting all the sexy scripts?" No. I mean, I've gotten some amazing, amazing scripts that I can't do because of hiatus, and I'm working ten months out of the year, so I've had to say no to a lot of really good ones. Actually, I would say 80% of the scripts I get are dramas, and not comedies, and not romantic comedies, which is funny, because that's what I do every week, and you would think I'd be "the girl in the sexy movie." But no. It's been a lot of dramas.
What kind of fan reaction do you get from your Housewives role?
When I first started Desperate Housewives, I was like, "There's no way anybody's going to like her. She's so bad. Nobody's going to like her." And everybody's like, "You're my favorite!" I'm like, "Why? Why am I your favorite? Are you watching the same show as me?" And I think it's because [show creator] Marc Cherry's done a brilliant, brilliant job of writing Gabrielle as a good person who does bad things. I have yet to get a bad fan mail going, "I can't believe you've done that" or anything like that. I had a priest come up to me in San Antonio at a game, and he was like, "I just love your show!" It was before the episode had aired where I beat up the nun, and I was like, "Well, I wouldn't watch it next week, father." But you know...Even a priest loves Gabrielle!
We understand you have a story about the guided tour that Universal Studios offers on their lot, where Desperate Housewives is filmed...
The trams! They're the death of us, especially in the summer now, when it's picking up. They pass by every two minutes, and you have to stop filming because they're so loud. They're like [announcer voice], "And to the right, we have the Desperate Housewives!" So we have to stop rolling while they pass. So for us, it's annoying. But the trams, we were told, are the biggest money-making attraction at Universal Studios, so they're like, "Don't screw with the trams." [laughs] It was another word, but I didn't say it! I guess one time, Jim Carrey was on the lot and ran and jumped on it. Steve Valentine...He's on Crossing Jordan. They shoot on the lot also, and the trams go right by his trailer, so when he's taking a nap, it's like, "Blah-blah-blah blah-blah," always. So he wanted to move the cone just so they'll go another way. And he was kidding. He was like, "I'm going to move the path of the tram!" He was kidding, and he got like a letter from like Universal Studios going, "If you screw with the trams, you will be fired." Like no matter what show you're on. So we kind of are scared of the trams. [It's] like there's a protective force around them. But they always pass by, and when I wave, they all lean to one side going, "Oh my God!" and it looks like the tram is going tip over. But it's fun. We would love to mess with the trams, but we're not allowed. [laughs]
Could you talk about the charities with which you're involved?
I've always been doing charity work and volunteering in the community since I was eight...My oldest sister is intellectually disabled, and so my mother ended up becoming a special education teacher because of that. And she's my oldest sister, so we were born into her world, and all I ever knew was to treat people special and be selfless all the time, because that's how our family was toward her. And because of my mom, I was involved in Special Olympics really early...Obviously, the platform I have now is much bigger, and because of that, I've chosen to be very specific about what I put my voice to regarding charity. I'm the national spokesperson for an organization called Padres Contra El Cancer, which is Parents Against Cancer. It helps Latino families who have children with cancer in providing educational, financial, [and] language resources, because Latino children have the highest death rate, and cancer in children is the most curable...So it's certain organizations that I think need my help. Special Olympics is obviously great and dear to me, but they have a great national organization that's been around for awhile, so I like to lend my voice to people who really need the help to put them on the next level.
People generally don't associate celebrities with such mundanity, but we heard you had a recent run-in with a certain commonplace consumer product...
The other day, I got a box of Ziploc bags, and I used it for something and the zipper broke. Then I used it for something else two days later and the zipper broke. And I was like, "I have a faulty box of [Ziplocs]!" And I was so upset that I called the number on the back. My assistant's like, "We'll go buy another box." And I'm like, "No, this is really upsetting, because people should trust this!" So I called for a free box of Ziploc bags. And they sent me like five!