Dana Delany talks 'Body of Proof'

By Deanna Barnert / April 04, 2011
Dana Delany and Jeri Ryan take on death in ABC's new series, 'Body of Proof'. Delany dishes about playing a medical examiner, her real life visit to a morgue and her 'China Beach' and 'Desperate Housewives' days.

Dr. Megan Hunt is a know-it-all when it comes to the bodies in the morgue: It's the living who give her trouble. The car accident that thrust the neurosurgeon out of the operating room may have been a hidden gift. Now, she has time to rebuild her relationship with her daughter, while using her sharp instincts and keen knowledge of the body as a killer medical examiner. She's earning a rep for stepping on the toes of the police department, but who can argue when she solves the case?

'Body of Proof' airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC and Dana Delany gives 'SheKnows' the lowdown.
Body of Proof/ABC

- What's the story on your character?
- Megan Hunt is going back to my China Beach days. There's a similarity there. This character feels very close to me. She's complicated. She's smart. She's definitely complex. She's somebody who's been driven her whole life by work and she's realizing she needs to find more balance. She was a neurosurgeon and now she's a medical examiner. I see her as an addict who was addicted to the job and the power, and then lost it all. She lost her husband, her child and her job. Now, she's like Charon, the guy who carried the bodies across the River Styx. She is honoring these people and their lives and letting them go with dignity. She sees this as her redemption.

- As the ME who always has the answers, is Megan allowed to be wrong?
- Yes, she will be wrong. I agree it can be annoying when somebody's always right and not that interesting, ultimately. And she's certainly wrong in terms of her personal life.

- In the pilot, Jeri Ryan's character, Dr. Kate Murphy, suggests Megan find a friend. Might these two become gal pals?
- She's Megan's boss, so I doubt it.

- What was your reaction when you heard "brain surgeon?"
- Fun! In another life, I was a doctor. I love the medical stuff, and I went [to] an autopsy. I encourage everyone to see one. It's fantastic. It will make you want to take care of your body and have even more awe for what we've been given. It's a miracle. We got the title right. The body is the proof, because once you cut that body open, you will see exactly how that person died. It is all there.
Body of Proof/ABC
- Were you squeamish about that autopsy visit?
- I got nervous because people told me that I should be, but once I saw it, I loved it. Just the fact that it all works is a miracle. I don't know how you could not become religious after seeing an autopsy. Somebody invented this!

- What was the coolest part?
- I got to hold the brain in my hands. It was very heavy - three pounds. But the coolest thing was the pituitary gland. God, or whoever, designed this beautiful little bone case and the pituitary is like the jewel of the crown. It runs everything and it's safely nestled in this little box of bone underneath the brain. Beautiful.


- On 'Desperate Housewives', your character's sexuality was very much explored. Did you welcome that and is that something we will see on 'Body of Proof'?
- I loved it on 'Desperate Housewives'. I had a ball there and they treated the whole bisexuality well. On this show, I'm hoping she's bad at romance. It's something she would not be good at.

- Was it an adjustment to go from the DH ensemble to working every day as the star of Body of Proof?

- It's all an adjustment - being in a new town, working long hours. I'm still figuring it out. The great thing about being on location is it really makes the actors form a team because we're all new in town, so there's a lot of, "What are you doing tonight?" "I don't know. What are you doing tonight?" So we've all been to the mall a lot together.

- Do you have fond memories of your early soap days?
- I turned on the TV the other day and I saw Peter Reckell (Bo, 'Days of Our Lives'), who was my boyfriend [on 'As the World Turns']. The fact that he's still on a soap after all these years, I was so proud of him. You know who came on and fired me from that show? Mary-Ellis Bunim. Thank God.

- Aside from 'Body of Proof', which of your many TV gigs has been your favorite?
- I still love 'China Beach' because it was the beginning. I was so young. Those were the days they would let you shoot 18 or 24 hours a day, if you could get away with it, and we did, because it was all for our art. Now, you're not allowed to work as long. It's more human, and yeah, it's better, but I was younger then. I would have gone 36 hours! I loved it.