Behind the wisteria lurk the secrets, affairs and lies one admits only to closest friends. Through marriages, divorces, births, deaths -- accidental and intentional -- illnesses, triumphs, children and crimes, one bond remains indestructible: the women's friendship.
comes to what will undoubtedly be an over-the-top two-hour finale Sunday, May 13. Even as the actresses head into their final weeks after eight seasons, they don't know what will happen, but they respect creator
's cloak of secrecy. Three of the four original housewives --
Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross
declined to participate) -- and
, who joined two years ago, reflect on the show in long, separate interviews with
Felicity Huffman as Lynette
She's the housewife most women relate to. She loves her husband and kids, but they drive her crazy. She's had jobs, but taking care of her family trumped career. Lynette vanquished cancer, and this season saw her separate from Tom (
Doug Savant) after 20 years.
Reflections on "Desperate Housewives": "I have enjoyed every minute of it," Huffman says. "Just the other night I was talking to Bill (husband
William H. Macy) and trying to work on something and said, 'Maybe I can practice doing this better.' It is such a luxury to get eight years of acting."
Little-known tidbit: "I wanted to play all of the parts," she recalls of reading the pilot. "I wanted to play Gabrielle Solis! I want to be a Latina supermodel. That's the good thing about good writing. Who wouldn't want to play that part?"
Best "Desperate Housewives" quote: "I can't tell you what a total pleasure and honor it has been to work with Doug Savant for eight years. Eva gets to work with
, as Carlos Solis), Teri got to work with
as Mike Delfino), and Marcia got to work with most of the men this side of the Mississippi."
Marcia Cross as Bree
With her manicured gardens, twin sets and pearls, Bree seems unflappable. She made and lost a huge business based on her recipes and has gone through a couple of husbands, and this season alone, many men.
Reflections on "Desperate Housewives": "Some of her is based on his mother," Cross says of Cherry's mom. "At some point a penny dropped -- it is not just his mother -- it is him! And what I mean about that, in spite of all of the craziness in the press, in my eight years with Marc, he is never anything but pleasant. That is something that he lives by."
Little-known tidbit: Though Cherry initially wanted
Dana Delany as Bree, she turned down the role. "I knew her vaguely socially, and she came to work on the show," Cross says. "At first I was terrified [thinking], 'She should have been Bree!' Not only did that go away, actors are different. Additionally, I absolutely fell in love with Dana, and she is one of my favorite people ever."
Best "Desperate Housewives" quote: "I hope if nothing else it advances the age of the working actress," Cross says of the show's legacy.
Eva Longoria as Gaby
Though a shallow narcissist, Gaby is self-aware and a great friend. After her early dalliance with a younger gardener (
), she has stayed true to Carlos.
Reflections on "Desperate Housewives": "It broke the mold for a lot of things," Longoria says. "For dramedies, we were never a comedy, never a drama. We always rode the hyphen. Marcia, Felicity and Teri were over 40 and leads of the show, and for four female leads to be on the No. 1 show in the world said a lot about the movement and progress women have made in television."
Little-known tidbit: "Felicity and I both sew in our trailers," Longoria says, "and I will miss that."
Best "Desperate Housewives" quote: "I am trying to steal my
Andy Warhol pictures of Gaby on the wall," Longoria says.
Vanessa Williams as Renee
She has the moxie to take a gun out of Bree's hand and talk about being beautiful with Gaby. Renee, rich from her divorce, used her money to help her beau, Ben (
Reflections on "Desperate Housewives": "One of the greatest compliments has been most fans think I should have been there from the beginning, and just consider me one of the cast," Williams says.
Little-known tidbit: "I have gone to Felicity Huffman's game night, and she plays a mean running charades. Marcia singing
Rihanna's 'What's My Name?' in her gardening gloves and twin set. Eva is always dragging you to some crazy thing. Once she filmed us dancing to 'I Like Big Butts' -- me, her and Felicity. Teri invited me to two of her Halloween parties. She just had a 'Chopped' thing at her house"
Best "Desperate Housewives" quote: "This is the easiest gig in the world. I work maybe two days a week. It is an ensemble show. They greet you at the door with my chai soy latte. I could not get taken care of any better than that. I have a fantastic trailer that Dana Delany tricked out, and all of my kids moved out to L.A., so I will miss the whole machine."