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'Desperate Housewives': Neal McDonough says filming Edie's death was 'horrible'

March 20, 2009 | 11:52 am

NealDave Williams has already done a lot of damage on Wisteria Lane — he framed Lynette’s son for murder, drove Mrs. McClusky nuts and offed his therapist — but what he does on Sunday’s episode of “Desperate Housewives” might be unforgivable.

To  be sure, the show has excused its share of flawed neighbors. Orson ran over Mike and came back still married to Bree, and Edie hooked up with Susan’s and Gabi’s exes but was last seen gossiping with the ladies over coffee. But word around the Web has long confirmed that the revenge-bent widower will dispose of his wife, the oft-almost-killed Edie Britt. And this time, even actress Nicollette Sheridan says Edie will be gone for good.

Series creator Marc Cherry called on actor Neal McDonough to fill Dave’s psychotic shoes, having remembered his performance as an all-too-human alcoholic deputy D.A. in NBC’s short-lived crime drama “Boomtown.” “Dave is this really sweet guy next door and then something tragic happens to him and his personality splits in half. You like Dave and you feel for him, but he also creeps the hell out of you,” McDonough said. “Marc wanted to have the dark side of “Boomtown’s” David McNorris infused in the dark side of David Williams.”

The 43-year-old actor isn’t sure the character can emerge from Sunday’s events but promises the episode will be an emotional doozy. “It’s phenomenal. It’s like a big action movie at times, an intense drama at others. It’ll take a lot out of you.”

What was filming Edie’s end like?
You’ll see in the episode what I do to poor Nic. It is truly horrible, brutal, but it had to be done. It’s a simple scene, but in its execution it was very difficult. It took forever to do because it was just so hard and very emotional for Dave. You truly see both sides, you see his split personality in this one moment.

Dave is tragic, but Edie’s a fan favorite! Can he emerge from this and still elicit viewer sympathy?
Well, you realize how much he did truly love Edie. But he knows he has a job to do. In the episode after next, everyone on Wisteria Lane comes and tries to help Dave out because he’s such a mess after what happens. It’s not so black and white. Although, someone the other day did call me McCreepy. . . .

What has working on the set been like?
The best part for me is that I’ve been the keeper of the keys for the year. I’m the only one who knew Dave’s mystery from the get-go. Everyone on the set was incredibly nice to me because they didn’t know if I would be offing them or not. Like if they said something bad, I might report back to Marc and he’d go ‘Oh, really? Well, that’s one way to save $100,000 an episode.’ I joke, I joke.

What was everyone’s reaction when news leaked that Edie would be killed off?
Everybody was bummed. But I think Nic, she’s been doing it for five years, and she’s been on television now for 30, and she was like, ‘I wouldn’t mind.’ She’s had a rough time. She had the break-up with Michael Bolton, and all these other things in the papers about David Spade, and she was like, you know, I’m tired of this crap. Not tired of ‘Housewives,’ but tired of a lot of the outside stuff. I think it was the right time for her and the right time for the show. 

Tell me about Sheridan's last day on set.
It was bizarre. It’s like saying goodbye to your sister. It was very somber. A huge cake came out and everyone was there and it was just very odd.  But she’s happy about it and is very excited about the future, rest time and everything else. But it’ll be strange. Me and my wife and the kids, we’d see her all the time. She came by for birthdays and all these things. At her house, it was pool parties. She’s just a terrific gal. She’ll be sorely, sorely missed.

Lily Tomlin’s character, the sister of and fellow sleuth to Mrs. McClusky, left pretty abruptly earlier in the season — will she be back before the finale?
I can’t answer that.

OK, I’ll take that as a yes. Excellent. Could Dave’s character possibly return for another season?
Marc and I have discussed it. Maybe it's just for an arc for a little while. But I’ve choked out a doctor and what I’m about to do . . . I don’t know if we’d be able to have Dave Williams come back on the show. That being said, Marc is a genius and if he wants Dave back, he’ll figure it out.

— Denise Martin

Photo: Neal McDonough as Dave Williams on the Sunday, March 22 episode of "Desperate Housewives." Credit: ABC