Eva Longoria wants you to know that you can get a lot more done than you think. Specifically she wants me to know that as she stands in front of me topless at a photo shoot, asking why I’m pausing between questions. “Keep firing away,” she says. “Don’t stop.” During her eight-year tenure at Desperate Housewives, which ended in May, she learned two languages—French and Spanish—in her trailer between scenes, wrote a cookbook and spent her nights getting a master’s in Chicano studies (she’s currently working on her thesis). And now she’s national co-chair of Obama for America. Her hairstylist starts talking about how they were all at Longoria’s house the other day, a few hours before the premiere of her latest film, For Greater Glory, when someone mentioned they had a craving for tortillas, and suddenly there was Longoria, rolling out dough as she waited for the color in her hair to set. I get the sense that she might start doing something similar right now if she’s not given a second task other than posing for a magazine cover, which she can clearly do in her sleep. Although, for all I know, her sleeping might be reserved for learning German.
About those slightly awkward pauses: To be honest, Longoria’s toplessness probably played a part. I’ve never quite wrapped my head around where I’m supposed to look when it comes to this kind of casual standing-up-naked-person conversation. Plus we’re here to talk about her personal style, and that’s hard to ascertain when so far she’s only been wearing a robe or less. Occasionally I’ll see a major movie star on the street in New York and be blown away by how much better they look on camera. Or I’ll see an actress who mainly plays supporting roles, who always looked so ordinary, who’s just crazy-stunning in real life. But Longoria looks exactly as pretty as every picture you’ve ever seen of her. Her eyes are just as amazing, her skin every bit as glowing.
She takes off a gold bracelet by Solange Azagury-Partridge that was a gift from her best friend, Victoria Beckham (Longoria gave her one in return). “Victoria is so funny!” Longoria says. “And I have such appreciation for her style.” She slips into a Gucci sheath dress with a chiffon bodice and velvet accents. “This is gorgeous, classic,” she says. I ask her if it would be something she’d wear to the White House and then immediately regret it. I know that when it comes to celebrities, I’ll never be able to really grasp what their lives are like—particularly when they intersect with the President’s. The look on her face confirms this. “The back is too sheer for the White House,” she says. “I’d never wear this.” What does she wear then? “A lot of Victoria Beckham. Her sheath dresses. They’re just so easy.” When it comes to Beckham’s line, she and her friend wear the same size; often Longoria just borrows directly from the designer’s personal closet.
I ask her about life post-Housewives and whether it already feels like it happened a long time ago, the way weekends in the country can feel once you’re back in the city. “I miss the consistency of going to work,” she says. “Same people, same routine.” Some semblance of that consistency can be found in her latest movie projects. For Greater Glory, a historical drama set during Mexico’s 1920s Cristero War, stars Andy Garcia as a rebel leader and Longoria as his wife. Garcia and Longoria have already shot a second film together called The Truth, where he plays an ex-CIA agent–turned–political talk show host to Longoria’s corporate whistle-blower (a bilingual role). “After making For Greater Glory, we said, ‘Okay, we’re going to do every movie together.’ We wanted to put it in each other’s contracts. I’ll do anything he asks.” She has two more movies coming out this year and two more in the works, including Married With Cheating with Sarah Jessica Parker and Days of Mary (a remake of Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria) with Juliette Lewis. “On a television show, you basically make a movie a week,” she says. “Movies take three months—it’s crazy. They’re so slow, it’s like vacation to me.”
She tells me she doesn’t have a preference for comedies or dramas or, for that matter, acting or producing, which she also does. “I’m an overlapper,” as she puts it. She’s currently an executive producer of Marc Cherry’s new prime-time Lifetime soap, Devious Maids, as well as a dating show for NBC called Ready for Love, which, to me, seems like it could open her up for a whole new round of speculation about her own already very public personal life. But when I ask her why she was drawn to the project, she says there hasn’t been a fresh take on the modern dating world yet and shrugs. Which might be a way of saying, “Let’s not go there for once.”
She’s more effusive when talking about the minutiae of education reform in the Latino community or how hard it is to pass a citizenship test. (Longoria had her assistant, a U.S. native, take the test. She failed.) “They’re not easy questions. When was the Constitution ratified?” Longoria asks the room.
“1786!” shouts out the photographer.
“No!” says Longoria. “1787!”
She’s been studying the Constitution as well, both for herself but also as a way for her, as a Democrat, to comprehend the Right. “I think it’s important that people who are politically active understand the other side as well,” she says. “I just read the Ronald Reagan biography. When you’re fighting for social justice, one of my biggest pet peeves is speaking out of ignorance.”
Longoria tells me she’s been interested in politics since she was 17, when a high school teacher in her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, made her class volunteer for a presidential campaign. It was 1992; she picked Clinton. Right now, as part of Obama’s reelection campaign, she’s been spending a lot of time in the swing states, talking with women and Latino voters.
She says fashion is the last thing on her mind during these times, that she just wears a uniform of jeans and tanks and blazers (Zara is a longtime favorite), but even so, I can’t imagine her ever looking messy. She’s got that kind of shiny hair that looks so tidy pulled into a ponytail, as though each strand is as hyper-committed to its work as she is. I try to picture what she must be like talking to voters. There are photos of her online selling Girl Scout cookies to construction workers in a scene from Desperate Housewives. In the pictures Longoria’s wearing a skintight sequined top, miniskirt and what look like five-inch stiletto heels. Even though the scene’s comedy is based on the idea that it’s her skimpy outfit that closes the deal, there’s an aspect of her real-life personality that applies as well. She has this firm, matter-of-fact authority about her that makes it feel illogical to not do what she tells you to. If she were able to talk to every person in the country for even just a minute, Obama would have this next election in the bag.
She throws another question at the room: “Who wrote the Federalist Papers? Remember, the Founding Fathers are different from the people who were in the convention.” When nobody can answer, she shouts out that one of its authors is Alexander Hamilton, whose biography is her current vacation read. During the next outfit change, she pulls on a pair of embellished Topshop shorts. “I like a leggy outfit,” she says. Pairs of shoes are offered up as potential fits, each of them very tall. “I was born in platform heels,” she says. “I actually always fall down when I’m wearing flip-flops.” Standing there barefoot, she looks so tiny. Even so, I’m sure she’d still be able to sell the hell out of a box of Thin Mints.
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