Longoria’s three-episode stint on “Empire” is one of many projects she’s currently juggling, along with a Fox comedy pilot, “Type A,” which is in contention for the 2017-2018 season, and the upcoming film “Lowriders,” which hits theaters next month. Since her hit show “Desperate Housewives” went off the air, the multi-hyphenate has focused primarily on her jam-packed production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, and directing, with credits including episodes of “Black-ish” and “Jane the Virgin.”
Here, Longoria talks to Variety about her special guest role on “Empire” — plus, would she ever consider a “Desperate Housewives” revival?
Why did you want to join “Empire” and how did it come about?
I’ve been a fan of Danny Strong and of course Lee [Daniels] for a long time, and Terrence [Howard] and I have been friends for nearly 20 years, so the minute they asked me, I should yes before I even knew what the character was. And then I got on the phone with the showrunner and we talked about the character and her role leading up to the season finale and how important her role is as an adversary for Lucious.
What can you tease about your character?
I played Charlotte Frost. She’s the head the Las Vegas Gaming Commission. I hold the key to whether or not Lucious enters Vegas, so his usual wine and dining and ruling doesn’t work on my character because she doesn’t drink, she’s a Mormon, she’s conservative — so he has to try different strategies to get on my good side. Cookie notices an opening and tries to make a play herself, and she appeals to my more conservative motherly side. I have a great scene with Cookie and with Lucious.
When I spoke to Taraji P. Henson, she sang your praises. What was it like to work with her?
First of all, she should have a comedy show! She is hilarious in between takes. Her and Terrence need a sitcom. They just have this short-hand. I can’t imagine the show without them. They’re everything. To work with both of them was very exciting for me, and she’s a dream. I was in this scene, and I was like, I can’t believe I’m in a scene with Taraji — it’s Cookie!
Does your story wrap up this season, or could you come back?
It is open-ended. It definitely is unsettled business, as we get to the season finale. So there’s a possibility she could come back, especially if the Lucious Lyon Empire continues in Vegas.
You have a comedy pilot at Fox, “Type A.” What can you say about that project?
It’s a really funny comedy. It’s a workplace comedy like you’ve never seen before. It’s about a bunch of a–holes, which is based on this book. I have a dream cast and am surrounded by such amazing comedic talent. I’ve been dying to work with Ken Marino and he plays my love interest. And Andy Richter and Kyle Bornheimer and Steve Harris, we had so much fun shooting it, and I’m excited to get back on TV.
Over the past few years, you’ve really focused primarily on acting and directing, other than NBC’s “Telenovela,” but have you missed the regular routine of broadcast television?
Honestly, no. [Laughing] The workload is a lot. People don’t realize what a grind television is. I spent the last year just directing — I directed “Black-ish” and “Jane the Virgin.” Directing is something that I love to do, and I definitely want to keep directing. To me, it’s like my second nature. It comes second nature for me. It’s a place where I feel like I can use all of my creative muscles.
There are so many reboots and revivals these days. Would you ever do a “Desperate Housewives” reunion?
100% percent! I don’t think it would ever happen, but absolutely 100%. I would love to step into Gaby’s shoes again.
Has anything ever been discussed with you or the cast?
No, not really. Marc [Cherry] has been asked a million times. But we did almost 10 years of 24 episodes per years. We did almost 200 episodes, so he already that he’s already mined all of those character. I don’t know what else people would want to see with those characters.