April 5, 2012 -- Eva Longoria became a household name playing suburban sexpot Gabrielle Solis on the hit ABC show "Desperate Housewives." After eight seasons of sexual escapades, highs and lows with husband Carlos and famously seducing her teen gardener, Longoria says it's the right time to leave Wisteria Lane.
"It's interesting, because I'm in a big transition in my life. I am not married. I always thought I would be married at the end of Housewives," Longoria, 37, told ABC News' Katie Couric. "The show is ending. … A lot of chapters are closing in my life, and so I'm at a point where I get to redefine who I am."
Longoria settled in with Couric for an interview in Los Angeles last month and dished about "Housewives," her life, and her venture into politics.
When Longoria first arrived on the "Desperate Housewives" set in 2004 from the soap opera world, she barely knew what hit her. "It was everybody's second or third show, and I remember sitting in the trailer and [co-star Marcia Cross] saying, 'You know, your life's about to change. Our lives are about to change.' And I'm like, 'Why would our lives change?'"
The grueling schedule, filled with press junkets, photo shoots and filming, was one reason, but relentless tabloid scrutiny would be the other -- especially in November 2010 when Longoria split from her husband, NBA star Tony Parker, after three years of marriage.
"The hardest thing was I was dealing with the issue months before it ever came out, and so that was trying to really say, 'OK, how do we best handle this just between you and I without the world looking in.' So when it finally came out we were confident ... it's going to be a nightmare," Longoria recalled.
The couple, who tied the knot in 2007 in a lavish ceremony at a 17th century castle outside Paris, cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for their divorce but was plagued by reports of Parker's alleged infidelity.
"I think I handled it as gracefully as I could," she said. "It was painful, but life goes on. I always said I hold onto the love and not the loss. There was a reason why we got married and fell in love. I think the press also wanted me to hate him and villainize him. And I don't. And I didn't."
That constant media scrutiny has admittedly made Longoria more guarded. The star is rumored to have split with boyfriend Eduardo Cruz, 27, last month after a year of dating and then reunited with him this week, but she doesn't want to address speculation.
"Now I'm a lot more private," she said. "You don't need to know who I'm dating. You don't need to know what I'm doing. I'm fine with everybody not knowing that."
Still, Longoria does believe in love, wants to have a family, but marriage may not be in the cards again.
"I don't know about the marriage thing. We'll see if there's somebody there. I'm not in a rush," she said. "I take, and I took, marriage very seriously. I am Catholic and got married in the church, and so it's a pretty sacred sacrament, and so I wouldn't take it lightly. So to go, 'Yeah, I'll get married again.' … I can't say that."
Longoria on Nicolette Sheridan Suit: 'It's a Stain on Our Legacy as a Hit Show'
On top of the roller coaster ride that has been Longoria's personal life, there was also plenty of "Housewives" drama behind the scenes, most recently when Nicolette Sheridan sued the network for wrongful termination, claiming series creator Marc Cherry fired her after she complained he'd hit her in rehearsal.
The case, which resulted in a mistrial and deadlocked jury, became fodder for the tabloids and "a stain on our legacy as a hit show," said Longoria.
"I was surprised there was even a trial and that it went that far," she said. "I love Nicolette, and I love Marc Cherry. ... That was the soap opera behind the soap opera. And it was unfortunate, because it doesn't reflect the workplace that we went to every day."
Eva Longoria Goes Back to School for Next Venture
Longoria is taking a break from acting to get involved in politics. After playing an affluent Latino on television, she is taking on a new role as national co-chair of President Obama's re-election campaign. To prepare, the self-described "overachiever" has gone back to school to get a master's degree in Mexican-American studies.
"I'm excited. It's probably the most fulfilling thing that I've done in the past two years," she said. "I needed to be literate about the topics I'm talking about. ... If you're only superficially commenting on the things that you really don't know about, it's dangerous and so I didn't want to contribute to that dialogue. I wanted to be a little more literate and articulate about it."
A ninth-generation Mexican-American and Texas native who honed her political skills on Wisteria Lane, Longoria is ready for a change but it sounds as if she will desperately miss aspects of "Housewives."
"I'm going to really have withdrawals from the other girls, spending so much time with them and not being able to see them every day. I think that's going to hit me. Not yet, but it will," she said. "And the crew."
To Longoria, the series should be remembered as one that blazed a trail with four strong women leading the pack and breaking stereotypes.
"We'll never have this dynamic again. I know it. We'll never have this perfect chemistry" she said. "It was just great to go to work every day."