And here we have a new interview! For Prevention Magazine, November’s issue – mind you, right now I seriously want to punch that doctor she had. Also, honorary Glee member? Bring it on! Anyway, here you have it, happy reading!
With a new TV series and more energy now than in her 20s, Dana Delany is healthier and happier than ever.
Dana Delany is the rare actress who actually shows up early to a photo shoot. Even before her 9 AM call time, her hair is up in rollers and she’s chatting with the makeup artist. This is all the more surprising when she gingerly holds up her hand to show two broken fingers encased in a splint, and reveals that she was in a car accident the day before. (She will gamely remove the splint for most of the photographs.) “I was hit by a big bus in Santa Monica,” she explains.
In an eerie coincidence, the actress’s new TV series, Body of Proof, finds her playing Dr. Megan Hunt, a brilliant neurosurgeon whose career ends when a car crash injures her hand. (“I didn’t know I was a Method actress, but I guess I am!” Delany says.) The drama follows the character’s adjustment to a new career as a brash medical examiner.
It’s yet another strong female role for the 54-year-old actress, who’s garnered accolades and legions of fans, beginning with her turn as a Vietnam War nurse in China Beach, to her recent role as deliciously nutty Katherine Mayfair on Desperate Housewives. To Delany, the new series feels like the right path. As she puts it, “I feel I have this sort of divinely protected life, and things happen mysteriously.”
Getting Her Hands Dirty
You play a medical examiner—what research did you have to do, and did it freak you out?
I went to see an autopsy at a coroner’s office. I had no problem with it. When you first look at the body, your brain makes the association, He looks like a friend of mine. But once they started cutting, I wanted to know where everything was, how it worked, how it connected. I held the brain in my hands. It was heavy and cold.
But I did have one issue. When you cut open the body, the intestines spill out, and it looks like sausage. So I’m not sure that I can ever eat foie gras or turkey sausage again.
Playing Doctor – for Real
It sounds like you have the stomach to be in the medical field.
My grandfather was a doctor, a GP, in Brooklyn. When I was young, I used to love reading his medical journals and looking at these pus-filled, bloody growths in color photographs. So I think that I have a pretty good relationship with death. Ever since I was a little kid, it wasn’t something I feared.
Sweating It Out on the Mat
Coming from a medical family, did your exercise habits start at a young age?
I have to give my mother some credit because she was doing Pilates back in the Sixties, so I’ve always been very conscious of exercise. In the Eighties, I was living in New York and I did Pilates; then I moved to LA in 1986 and nobody was doing it, so I switched to yoga. And I absolutely love it. I usually do a “flow” class—a lot of Downward-Facing Dog, jumping into positions, a modified version of Ashtanga series. But I’ll do any kind of yoga—I mean, even the easiest yoga is restorative.
Why She Doesn’t Miss the ’80s
How else do you work up a sweat?
I have a treadmill. I don’t run—I walk—and for just a half hour. I’ll watch Nurse Jackie while I do it. And I love to dance. I was recently in London doing press and the cast from Glee was there, and I sort of became an honorary Glee member. We all went out dancing at a nightclub, which was the most fun in the world!
What cracked me up is all these kids just love the Eighties music, and I was around in the Eighties, so I don’t like it as much as they do.
So hearing “Holiday” by Madonna doesn’t make you especially happy?
Not at all. [Laughs] I remember dancing with Madonna at [Eighties-era Manhattan nightclub] Danceteria!
Would you ever do Dancing with the Stars?
I would like to be on it if only to get in great shape! But would I have to wear all those sequins?
Did you ever have any bad health habits?
When I was a teenager and in my 20s, I had eating issues. I binged. I starved. I was one step away from anorexia—a piece of toast and an apple would be all I’d eat in a day.
How did you get it under control?
When I turned 30, my life got interesting and I stopped focusing on eating. Part of it was doing China Beach. I needed to have energy to work those long hours, and so I started eating more healthily.
The Foods She Avoids
What is healthy eating for you?
I don’t like meat, so I don’t eat it. I just prefer vegetables, tofu, and fish. And recently I was told by my endocrinologist that I am gluten intolerant. I’m not supposed to eat bread or pasta, which is really hard when you don’t eat meat. But I’m trying gluten-free pasta, bread. It makes you less bloated and sluggish when you cut it out of your diet.
Do you have a guilty pleasure food?
I have a piece of dark chocolate every day as my little reward. And I love Vosges Haut-Chocolat—oh my God, they have the most delicious flavors.
Ever tried injectables or cosmetic surgery?
[Pause] Something nobody ever talks about is doctor error. Seven years ago, I had never even heard about Botox. My dermatologist was saying, “You should try it.” He injected my forehead, hit a nerve, and created a huge hematoma. The nerve has been dead ever since. It affected the muscle
in my right eye, so my eye has started to droop a little bit. Now that I said this to you, everybody will look for it! I notice it more than anybody else, but I was symmetrical before and now I am not. I stopped going to him right then. Doctors are human—they make mistakes. But I never went back, especially after he wouldn’t own up to it.
So, no plastic surgery for you?
I won’t do it, no.
Aging Gracefully in Hollywood
And yet all of Hollywood seems to be doing it.
We are getting to the point that nobody says, “That’s a beautiful woman.” Instead, they say, “She’s had good work.” And I hope that at some point we can stop dyeing our hair. I’m not saying I’m not dyeing my hair—I have to because I’m on camera—but wouldn’t it be nice? We would all save so much money and time. My hat’s off to Jamie Lee Curtis. She’s so smart, and she doesn’t dye her hair or anything. And Meryl Streep still looks like herself. Diane Keaton, too. I think the really great actresses don’t worry about that kind of thing.
Sweepstakes! Get Dana’s Glow
Win Dana Delany’s favorite chocolates and anti-aging skin care line.
To what does Delany attribute her gorgeous glow? “Twenty years ago, a dermatologist recommended Nu Skin products, and I’ve been using them ever since,” she says of the anti-aging brand based in Provo, UT. Dana’s favorites from the Epoch line include Nu Skin’s Celltrex CoQ10 Complete, which she puts on every morning, and Ultra Recovery Fluid, which goes on before bed.
Click here for the contest.