‘Desperate Housewives’ Reunion: Marcia Cross Based Bree Van De Kamp On Someone She Lived With

After eight seasons of Desperate Housewives, it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Marcia Cross as Bree Van De Kamp. Bree was the perfection-obsessed face of Wisteria Lane. Her son even accused her of being Stepford-y for how rigid and proper she was. However, there was a real Bree Van De Kamp before Cross ever played her.

Marcia Cross
Marcia Cross | Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Five cast members from Desperate Housewives had a video chat reunion on April 12 with Stars In the House to raise money for The Actors Fund. Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman were not there, but Cross, Eva Longoria, Vanessa Williams, Dana Delany and Brenda Strong participated. During the call, Cross revealed her lack of similarities with her iconic character, and the real life basis for her. You can watch the entire 80 minute chat below or at StarsintheHouse.com.

Marcia Cross is not like Bree Van De Kamp on ‘Desperate Housewives’

Bree Van De Kamp maintained her composure throughout all the scandals on Desperate Housewives. She even faked a pregnancy and didn’t miss a beat. Cross confirmed that everything about Bree was all acting, especially her domineering demeanor in her family.

Marcia Cross as Bree Van De Kamp
Marcia Cross | Ron Tom / Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

“No, [I’m] just the opposite,” Cross said. “I wish I could be controlling. I can’t even follow my own thoughts let alone control them.”

‘Desperate Housewives’ was fun for Marcia Cross

Playing against her natural type was a hoot for Cross. That’s why actors act, right? So they can take on different traits than their own. Cross couldn’t embody Bree Van De Kamp on her own, but she got Marc Cherry’s scripts she could embody.

Desperate Housewives: Marcia Cross
Marcia Cross | Danny Feld/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

“I loved it,” Cross said. “I actually loved it. It worked. I don’t know why. It was the complete opposite of me. I loved it. I loved her.” 

The real Bree Van De Kamp

Cherry created Desperate Housewives. Cherry says his own mother inspired Bree Van De Kamp. Cross didn’t know Mrs. Cherry though. She had her own Bree Van De Kamp on whom to base her performance. This one never covered up a murder, but she was Bree in spirit.

L-R: Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross | Danny Feld/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

“Yes, I did, a friend of mine,” Cross said. “Her name is Marianne Contreras who was my roommate. She’s now been a lifelong friend. I moved in with her, I was going back and forth from New York to L.A. trying to get my bearings, get a job.”

Living ‘Desperate Housewives’ in real life 

When Bree Van De Kamp insisted on fancy family dinners, cleanliness around the house or other social norms, Cross understood it. When she lived with Contreras, before she was famous, Cross witnessed highly organized Type A behavior. She celebrated it.

“I would take a sip of my coffee, I’d put it down,” Cross said. “Then I would look for it and it was washed and cleaned and put in the dish rack. She was up going to Jane Fonda and I wasn’t that healthy. She was like a five star chef and just brilliant. So she was my role model, Marianne Contreras.”