A `Desperate Housewives' part almost eluded Bart


What began as a guest-starring role as Bree's pharmacist George Williams for three episodes on ABC's top-rated series, Desperate Housewives, has turned into a regular gig for actor Roger Bart.

"All I can say is that I'm still here," muses Bart, who adds new meaning to the word "creepy" as the Cheshire Cat-grinning George, who is so obsessed with Bree (Marcia Cross) that he causes the death of her husband, Rex, by exchanging his heart medicine for something a bit more toxic.

The 43-year-old Bart nearly didn't get the job on Desperate Housewives. The series' creator-executive producer, Marc Cherry, had seen him in his Tony Award-winning role as Snoopy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, as the snippy assistant Carmen Ghia in The Producers and as an acerbic gay "housewife" in the film comedy The Stepford Wives.

"You can't be naturalistic in any of those roles," says Bart, nephew of Variety's editor in chief, Peter Bart. "He [Cherry] said, `I love Roger Bart, but I think he's going to be too big.' The casting director, thank goodness, said, `Take a look at the tape,' and Marc said OK. I was able to keep it small and real."

Bart agrees that George is scary. But, he's also "sensitive. He is the guy who is just your neighborhood druggist who greets you with a smile, and little do you know underneath he's angry. I think he's been wounded ... and he's very, very angry. I think that George loves Bree. ... She is his princess."

Bart will be seen this Christmas in the film version of The Producers opposite original cast members Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick and Gary Beach.

Susan King writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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