Charles Mesure: International man of Wisteria

By Leena Tailor

There's a new guy in the Lane and he's both naughty and nice. Leena Tailor talks to Kiwi Charles Mesure about joining the Desperate cast in the final season.

Charles Mesure plays Ben Faulkner, objection of affection for Vanessa Wiliams' character, Renee. Photo / Supplied
Charles Mesure plays Ben Faulkner, objection of affection for Vanessa Wiliams' character, Renee. Photo / Supplied

In eight years, Wisteria Lane has seen more than its share of mysterious new boys on the block - Orson Hodge, Adam Mayfair, Dave Williams.

But as Desperate Housewives begins its final season, it's Kiwi Charles Mesure who's set to make his mark as newcomer Ben Faulkner.

"He's an Aussie real estate developer who grew up on the mean streets of Sydney and worked his way up from nothing to the point where he's now quite wealthy and successful," Mesure tells TimeOut. "He moves on to Wisteria Lane, where Vanessa Williams' character takes a shine to him, and he has a ruthless side which will possibly come into play."

The English-born actor - who was raised in Australia but considers himself a Kiwi after building his career here on shows like Street Legal, Outrageous Fortune and This Is Not My Life - was in LA after his hit US series V was cancelled when the audition for Desperate came up.

"It was such a tumultuous time because we did season two of V and I had such a ball, but then we were sitting around for the first half of 2011 just waiting for the network to make a decision. We couldn't work or audition, so when word finally came that it was cancelled I was gutted.

"Then a few weeks later they say, 'Come and read for Desperate Housewives in the morning."'

With no preparation time, Mesure turned up with low expectations to cold-read a light, romantic scene with Williams, then "something more like The Godfather" with James Denton, who plays Mike Delfino.

Nailing the acting range that producers were looking for, he was asked to start as a series regular but was apprehensive about the Hollywood heavyweights he would be working with.

"I was like, 'They want me to be with who? Vanessa Williams, one of America's great TV and stage beauty icons? Go and get Brad Pitt!'

"Then I looked at the list of women I've worked with over the past 10 years and it's ridiculous - Pamela Anderson, Elizabeth Mitchell, Jill Hennessy, Maggie Grace, Lucy Lawless. I realised I could do it because I've done it before.

"But the tone of the show is very idiosyncratic. It's comedic but dark, and unlike anything I've ever done. In V I was skinning aliens alive then suddenly I'm doing light, soppy comedy with Eva Longoria."

To prepare for the swing in genre, Mesure, 41, started watching the series on DVD.

"I'm up to season six and it's a disaster because I've become a huge fan. I go to work and I should just be in the scene hanging out, but instead I'm thinking, 'Oh my God, it's Marcia Cross from Desperate Housewives'.

With his "exotic" sounding accent, he hasn't had any trouble fitting in as the Kiwi bloke on set, but he admits it was initially daunting stepping into such a tight-knit cast.

"I've done shows for four years where by the end people want to kill each other, but this cast seems remarkably close. That was probably the biggest problem for me - coming on to a set where the cast and crew are like family and you're the visitor. Everyone's been great though."

All in all, it's a dream gig for the actor, who got his start on NZ series City Life in 2006, so it was a sad day last August when the Desperate cast found out the show was ending.

For series creator Marc Cherry, it's the end of a journey which turned his life around.

For the actors, there were mixed reactions from what Mesure observed the week of the announcement. Though some had seen it coming, there were tears from others, particularly Felicity Huffman. "But my other impression was that [the mood] passed pretty quickly because suddenly everything is up for grabs. I used to write television and it's about creeping forward with a story incrementally. You don't want to play any of your story cards too soon. But now the end is in sight, the story is galloping forward. It's all about who's going die, give birth, get married and who's the villain behind it all? We're dealing with huge storylines so it's exciting."


Who: Charles Mesure
What: Desperate Housewives
When and where: TV2, Monday, 8:30pm


- NZ Herald

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