July 19th, 2012
04:37 PM ET
When Brenda Strong ended her run as the voice of "Desperate Housewives" this year, she had to concentrate on not crying through her final lines.
"I sobbed," Strong recalled of saying good-bye to her character, Mary Alice. "It's hard to talk when you're crying, so I had to keep it together long enough to get through my final voice-over. Mary Alice has been such a magical part of my life, and it's such a unique role. I'm not a voice-over artist traditionally, so to have the opportunity to use one aspect of my instrument so specifically has been a challenge and a gift."
Her efforts paid off, as Strong has been nominated for an outstanding voice-over performance Emmy for the second year in a row - an acknowledgement Strong said she wasn't expecting.
"I honestly forgot it was Emmy nominations this morning and I turned my phone off thinking that I didn't have to get up, and when I turned my phone on at 9 I had a slew of calls from my publicist and I went, 'Uh-oh, I'm in trouble!" Strong said with a laugh.
That's less scary than what she thought last year - that someone might've died - but nonetheless it took her by surprise. In the end, though, it was more sweet than bitter to get one last nomination for her work as Mary Alice.
"It's such a celebratory nod to the wonderful work we've done on the series over the last eight years and the great writing of Marc Cherry and the role that Mary Alice plays as the voice of the show," Strong said. "It's such an honor and I just feel like to have it now at the end than at the beginning means so much more to me."
If she wins, Strong hopes to pay tribute to her late co-star, Kathryn Joosten, who's nominated for the best supporting actress in a comedy series Emmy. Joosten died of lung cancer in June.
"[Joosten] and I actually had a conversation during the last episode and she said, 'You know, I might not make it long enough to get to the Emmys, but regardless, I hope you'll vote for me'," said Strong, who added that she was "thrilled" when she heard of Joosten's nomination.
"I gave her the biggest hug and I said, 'Kathryn, you'll always have my vote.' It feels really good to honor her in this way posthumously," Strong continued. "She loved her work, and she cared deeply about it. If I'm fortunate to actually get the award myself I can't wait to invoke her name because she was such a magical part of the texture of our show."
As she awaits September's awards ceremony, Strong's looking forward to putting in more work as Bobby Ewing's third wife Ann on TNT's "Dallas," which has been picked up for a second season.
"I absolutely love my ['Dallas'] co-stars, and the family that I've walked into," Strong said. "It's very rare that you get chemistry on-and-off camera, and we've all got it together. That goes for the younger generation as well as the older generation. The writing's terrific, and we're just having a ball."
She's ready to roll on season 2, she said, "because the writers have let me know that Ann is going to go for a bigger ride, and I love the ride they took me on in season 1 so I can't wait to see what they've got in store."
Strong has also had to be conscious of how she uses her voice when she plays Ann Ewing, since viewers are so used to hearing her distinct tone as Mary Alice on "Desperate Housewives."
"I thought about it long and hard," Strong said. "What I didn’t want was the audience listening to Ann and going, 'that’s Mary Alice.' My voice quality is very distinctive."
So Strong focused on where she could inject subtleties into Ann's voice and stretch the differences between the two characters.
"Ann is also a very compassionate character, but she’s a little bit more reserved tonally," Strong said. "I also added some Texas hard r’s, and [I drop] my g’s, so the cadence and the rhythm is different from Mary Alice’s."
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