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Why Eva Longoria Returned to TV With Apple’s ‘Land of Women’

Why Eva Longoria Returned to TV With Apple’s ‘Land of Women’

After spending the last decade directing other actors, Eva Longoria is back in front of the camera in the new Spanish-language dramedy Land of Women.

The six-part Apple TV+ series is Spanish writer and producer Ramón Campos’ adaptation of Spanish journalist Sandra Barneda’s novel La Tierra de Las Mujeres. In it, Longoria stars as Gala Scott, a wealthy — or so she thinks — wife and mom who, along with her mother (Claudia Maura) and daughter (Victoria Bazúa), flees from New York City to the fictional town of La Muga in Catalonia, Spain, where her mom grew up, when she finds out her husband (James Purefoy) owes $15 million to mobsters intent on getting their money back by any means necessary. Humorously navigating the disastrous circumstances that befall the trio while they’re on the run falls perfectly within Longoria’s wheelhouse, having rose to fame staring on ABC’s mystery soap opera Desperate Housewives from 2004-2012. It’s also the type of escapist television she personally enjoys.

“I get so stressed out watching TV and streaming today because I think it’s very depressing,” Longoria tells THR in the chat below. “It’s like a dystopian future when the government collapses or a zombie apocalypse because of a virus, and I’m like, all of those things are way too real. It stresses me out, and I did not want a show like that.”

Acting for the first time in Spanish came with its own anxieties for the Mexican American actress who didn’t grow up speaking the Castilian Spanish spoken in the series.

“I called Ramón and I was like, ‘Come on, write me something in Spain, like in the wine country, that’s Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love-y; I want to shoot in Spain, and I want to have fun and I want to speak Spanish,’” Longoria recalls. “And he’d found the book, Land of Women, so he goes, ‘I have the show.’ And then before you knew it, we were shooting in Spain and I was speaking Spanish and I was like, ‘Ah, what did I get myself into?’”

Rising to that challenge as the lead actress in the series, which is approximately 70 percent in Spanish, is why Longoria, who most recently made her feature directorial debut with 2023’s Flamin’ Hot, decided not to direct any of the debut season’s episodes.

“I was terrified of speaking Spanish, so I felt like I needed all my brain cells dedicated to learning Spanish, speaking Spanish, acting in Spanish, memorizing in Spanish, and in comedy,” says Longoria, who hasn’t ruled out the possibility of stepping behind the camera for the series in the future. “Second season, I think I would love to direct one [episode].”

Below, Longoria talks about working in Spain for six months on Land of Women, the search for the right actress to portray her daughter and the significance of language in the series.

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This is the first release under your Hyphenate Media Group banner. What’s special to you about Land of Women being the company’s debut project?

Oh my gosh, I’m so proud of it. It’s the first time I’ve been in front of the camera in almost a decade on a TV show. I’ve been directing and producing for the last 12 years and being behind the camera, I forgot about acting. I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m an actor, too.” So when I decided I want to go back to TV, I wanted it to be special and different and something you hadn’t seen. And I got it in my head that I wanted to shoot in Spain — I’ve never shot in Spain — and I want to act in Spanish — this is my first time acting in Spanish. So I called my dear friend, Ramón Campos who is the biggest showrunner in Spain with Bambú [productions]. He did Velvet and Las Chicas del Cable and Grand Hotel. And I adapted Grand Hotel for ABC. That’s how I met him. I called him and I was just like, “I’m your biggest fan.”

I get so stressed out watching TV and streaming today, because I think it’s very depressing. I’ve been offered so many shows throughout the last 10 years, and I was like, “I don’t want to be a detective. I don’t want to be another housewife. I want to do something really special.” And so I just reversed engineered where I wanted to shoot ,and then all the pieces kind of fell into place. I said, “I want a Desperate Housewives. I want a dramedy. I want to have fun. I want to go to work and laugh.” And I think we really nailed the tone in that aspect because the stakes are super high. Like, we’re going to get killed. But I’m still a fish out of water. I’m the American in Spain and it’s set in a country where I’ve never been, in a language I’ve never spoken. I just think it’s so needed in the landscape of television right now, this kind of escapism. It’s not only beautiful to watch, but you can escape in these characters’ drama instead of your own.

Had you been to Catalonia or the town of Garriguella before this project?

No. Ramón lives in Madrid. He said, “We’re doing it at Apple, we’re gonna shoot here in September.” And I go, “I love Madrid, I can’t wait to live in Madrid.” And he goes, “Well, it’s not Madrid, it’s Barcelona.” And I was like, “Oh, okay, I like Barcelona.” And he goes, “Well, it’s not Barcelona, it’s like outside of Barcelona, Girona.” And then I was looking for a house to rent, and he goes, “Well, it’s not Girona, it’s Figueras.” And I was like, “Where are we shooting?” It just kept getting smaller and smaller and further and further away into the region of Catalonia, which is so different. Different language, different politics, different vibe. But I loved it. I grew up on a ranch. I lived in this little medieval town. Roosters would wake me up in the morning. There was one cafe there that was the only place you could get coffee. My son and I would walk everywhere. And to be there six months in the wine country of Spain, I was like: Pinch me, I’m dreaming. It’s very surreal.

Eva Longoria, here with her onscreen mother (Claudia Maura) and daughter (Victoria Bazúa), plays Gala Scott in Apple’s Land of Women.

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Courtesy of AppleTV+

This appears to be only one of two Spanish-language series on Apple TV+. How did Land of Women find a home there and can you speak to how significant it is to have made this in Spanish?

I know, and it’s Castilian Spanish, which is like the motherland and is so terrifying. I don’t speak that. I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish. I married a Mexican and we lived in Mexico City, and so I know Mexican Spanish. So to do this show in Castilian Spanish, opposite of Carmen Maura, who’s the legend of Spain, in comedy, which has a certain rhythm, I’m like, “What did I get myself into?” Ramón has a good relationship with Apple. I have a great relationship with Apple. We’ve developed a couple of things with them. And once Ramón found this book, we literally took it into Apple and they were like, “done,” because they love him as a showrunner. They loved me as a talent. And the fact that it was bilingual was super exciting to them. This is a perfect home, because I do think the show is such a disruptor. There’s nothing like it on TV right now. And I find that those are the shows that go to Apple, right? They’re innovative, have something to say, they’re more global in approach.

It was a long search finding your onscreen daughter Kate, and her experience as a young trans woman is unique within the Spanish Catalonian context. How did you know she was the right actress for the role?

We were searching everywhere and that was a hard age to search for transgender actors, because it’s an in-between stage; many are not transitioned yet. [Victoria] was 16 when we found her, and she sent in her tape and it was so perfect, so beautiful. Ramón goes, “We found Kate” and he sends me the tape and I go, “Oh, she’s Mexican.” And he goes, “I know.” They were nervous about the Mexican accent in Spain. So we rewrote the whole thing for Victoria because it was supposed to be a Spanish accent, a Spanish person, and when we found Victoria, we were like, she’s just too perfect. She’s a joy and a light, and you would never have guessed this was her first acting gig because she’s such a pro. She’s so confident in who she is. It’s so refreshing for somebody that young and with everything she’s gone through, and to be away from her country and her family for six months to go shoot this with us. She was like, “I’m so happy to be here. This is exactly where I want to be. And this is exactly who I am.” She had so much experience with the issues in the storyline that she really helped Ramón craft it.

Did you and Ramón talk about you possibly directing any of season one?

They asked me if I wanted to originally, and I loved that. I prefer directing, acting and producing. I like doing all three at the same time. But I was terrified of speaking Spanish, so I felt like I needed all my brain cells dedicated to that. So I was like, “I don’t think I’m gonna have the bandwidth to do that and direct.” I had never shot in Spain, so I didn’t know how the crews worked, and I was a little nervous about that. So I said no, I think I just need to focus on acting on this one. But second season, I think I would love to direct one [episode].

Land of Women streams new episodes Wednesdays on Apple TV+. The first two episodes are now streaming.

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