'Desperate Housewives' Star Has a Plan

Feb. 2, 2005 -- -- There are few women in Hollywood who wouldn't want to be Teri Hatcher.

She's the star of ABC's new hit television show "Desperate Housewives." Her physique has been the object of fascination in an episode of "Seinfeld." And for four years, she played the girlfriend of the most powerful man in the universe.

But in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Hatcher, 40, says she wants to be doing something very different five years down the line -- though you could say it's still sort of "Housewives"- related.

"I would like to explore coming out with lines of products that help real women's lives. And help them feel better and good and have joy in their lives and laugh a little bit," the actress said.

Hatcher says she is interested in marketing and advertising -- as well as some aspects of homemaking. The interview was conducted at Hatcher's house, where the former Lois Lane of "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" was in the middle of baking a batch of cookies.

"I love actually the idea of being able to make real women feel good," Hatcher said. One example might be showing women how to make great cookies quickly.

"I think there's a place that isn't quite Martha Stewart, you know, that's so perfect," she said. "I'm sort of flawed and kind of nutty and goofy and insecure and messy. That's a lot of us, you know."

A 'Wife' From the Start

"'Desperate Housewives' has been hailed as "the hottest new show on television" and a social phenomenon comparable to the recently ended HBO series "Sex and the City."

The dramedy revolves around the lives of four suburban friends on sparkling yet sterile Wisteria Lane: a man-hungry divorced mom, a former career woman making a rocky transition to family life, a perfectionist homemaker and an adulterous trophy wife.

Hatcher plays the divorcee. There are elements in Hatcher's own personal history that might be relevant to her character today.

The former cheerleader said that even when she was in high school, she never really dated and was an "instant boyfriend kind of person."

If she went on a date with someone named "John Smith," she said, she would almost immediately be wondering, "'Teri Smith. How am I going to write that?'" she said. "I just so wanted to get married, so wanted to be a family -- so wanted that perfect ideal of a family."

Hatcher says she never thought about dating as experimentation, "that you could go out with people and see who they were and then decide if you liked them or they liked you or you were right for each other. I always just thought that I had to somehow make it work."

Hatcher has been married twice and divorced twice. She told Sawyer: "I think I ended up with guys, boyfriends or husbands that weren't necessarily bad guys ... but weren't common enough with values and goals and communications enough that it made a marriage."

Good Genes

Hatcher and her Susan Mayer character might be one of the most intensely watched pop culture figures today, but she rejects the idea of being glamorous.

"It was really important to me in the world to be able to embrace not being glamorous," she told Sawyer.

The woman whose physical attributes were admired as "real and spectacular" in a "Seinfeld" episode nearly a decade ago even plays down her still-shapely physique.

She attributes it to good genes. "I mean I try to hike and work out and that kind of stuff but I've never been consistent," she said. "You know, I've never had an eating disorder. I eat what I want and then I'll kind of watch it for a couple of days, but I eat healthy."

She added, "I breast-fed for two and a half years. I mean you don't want to see me out of my bra -- that's why I haven't had sex in however many years … I'm shy about the whole thing!"

Second Wind

In a sense, Hatcher's success was both familiar and long-awaited. In the late 1990s, she seemed to be at the peak of her career. There was the "Seinfeld" tribute.

A picture of her from her "Lois & Clark" days with her wearing nothing but Superman's red cape famously became the most-downloaded image on America Online

And then the show was canceled. She had her first baby. She was divorced for a second time.

She told Sawyer about the fear she felt at that time. She felt that she might have to take a job that she didn't want just to pay the bills. But even worse, she said, was feeling like she failed at life.

"I failed at my marriage. I don't have a career. I might lose my house. I don't have a man," she said.

"That sort of harshness of judgment of myself -- how will I ever move beyond this? That really desperate feeling when you feel like you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel."

She's much better now. "You know when you can have a job that you love and get paid for it -- I mean you're lucky, you're really lucky," she told Sawyer.