Texas-born Eva Longoria Parker quickly graduated from daytime soap opera (“The Young and the Restless”) to nighttime soap opera plus (“Desperate Housewives”), and then segued into supporting roles in feature films (“The Sentinel,” “Harsh Times”). Now she’s taken a lead role on the big screen, starring as Kate, a woman killed on her very wedding day, who returns as a ghost to break up the romance a romance between her intended groom and a psychic in “Over Her Dead Body.”
“They sent me the script and they wanted me to do the role of Ashley [the psychic],” Longoria Parker noted during a recent Dallas interview. “And when I read the movie I thought, hey, I really like the ghost. She’s the most fun, she’s the funniest character and also the one that’s stirring the pot, and she was the one that I was really drawn to more. They were happy that I loved the ghost. I thought it would be fun because it has no boundaries—you can expect nothing and everything from that role.”
Among its requirements, however, was special effects work that could be trying. “We did the wires and the floating,” Longoria Parker said, “the levitation with wires. It took all day to do it—it’s a painful process in the sense that it means limited movement. As an actor you have limited range—you have to stay in position because when they digitally erase the wires, your hand has to be in the right spot. It’s very technical. But when you see it in the movie, it looks great—flawless.”
The costuming was also a challenge, since Longoria Parker was constantly dressed in white. “It was hard to keep white clean,” she said with a chuckle. I wore white the whole movie, every day, all day. I’m like, get this white off of me!”
But her co-stars made it all worthwhile. “It was like a vacation from the [television] show, because it was just so loose,” she said. “We got to improv and ad lib and change blocking…. [Writer-director Jeff Lowell] was great, allowing us to do whatever we felt comfortable with.
“Paul Rudd [who plays Kate’s erstwhile fiancé] and I had a running joke—what’s it like not working with Paul Rudd? Because I was the ghost, and we never got to talk with each other even though we were in many scenes together. He said, ‘We should do a movie together…where we actually talk.’
And as for Jason Biggs, who plays the psychic’s assistant, Longoria Parker said, “He’s crazy. He’s actually hard to work with, because he makes you laugh so much.” (But she’s still making another picture with him, titled “Lower Learning,” which she described as “a rowdy, over-the-top, slapstick comedy” as opposed to “Over Her Dead Body,” which she said had a “more intellectual, witty, dry, dark sense of humor.”)
And there’s Stephen Root, who plays the ice sculptor whose handiwork accidentally ends Kate’s life, but who comes back as a ghost, too. The two have several extended scenes alone together, and Longoria Parker said, “It was hard for me to keep my face straight, because he was so funny. His subtleties are amazing.”
When asked whether she preferred doing comedy to drama like “The Sentinel” and “Harsh Times,” Longoria Parker replied that various roles offer “a lot of different colors, and I think as an actor you expect to play all of those. I don’t really have a favorite. But I would like to do an action movie next, a full-out action movie.”
But with the writers’ strike approaching its third month, any new project will have to wait. “For the past two months I’ve been home with my husband, being a newlywed,” Longoria Parker said. “I’ve been being a housewife rather than playing a housewife. I love it. I love being home, and cooking, and going to basketball games. It’s really been my life for the past two months.”
Apart from the promotional tour for “Over Her Dead Body,” of course.