Q&A: Felicity Huffman

The Desperate Housewives star talks about her career and motherhood

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Congratulations on your Oscar nomination for Transamerica.

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Thank you. I wish the awards hadn’t been for another year and I could be a nominee for a year. […] I know this sounds like some silly litany that actors say but, honest to God, I feel like the win is just being nominated […].

Has your life changed in the past couple of years?

When Desperate Housewives went through the roof and I knew I would have a job for a couple of years; with the Emmy, which was a shock; and then with the Golden Globe… I bear no resemblance to my former self. I’ve got a huge head, and I’m an a**hole now.

Playing Lynette you’ve become the ultimate yummy mummy.

I feel like I was born with a 40-year-old body, so when I turned 40 I was like, “not bad”. But I have this team of people – I show up looking haggard in my nightgown and within an hour and a half I look pretty good.

You had bulimia and struggled with your body image for years. What changed?

What turned it around was when I had children. I’m not talking about “look what my body can do”, which is amazing: grow an extra skeleton – you try it. But I had my kids and I was 20lb heavier than I am now, and I turned around and went, “I look fantastic.” I don’t know what it was – the grace of God? – but something switched.

Do you think Desperate Housewives made being 40 sexy?

I think what’s interesting is it took a gay writer […] to say women in their 40s are sexy and viable and worth telling stories about. But my experience is that gay men appreciate women on a sensual level far longer than heterosexual men.

How do you balance your career and being mum to your two girls?

I don’t. I go through my day making mistakes and fumbling and feeling guilty that I don’t know how to do it.

You caused a storm by saying motherhood can be tough and boring. Do you have regrets about being so outspoken?

I don’t say that stuff from a political standpoint. I say it because it’s true for me […].

Why do you think it’s a big deal?

I feel like motherhood is the last icon – it’s idealised and marginalised all at the same time. And it’s not OK to say it’s hard and awful and boring. […] I couldn’t love my kids any more than I do, but it’s the most difficult job. Going to work is so much easier.

One final question: you play a transsexual in Transamerica. Do you ever wish you were a man?

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The only time is during sports, as men are so much stronger. I’ll train for a really long time running, then I’ll do six miles with my husband [actor William H Macy] and he just kicks my butt, and it bugs me when he hasn’t even been training.