It is hard to imagine, once one views Dana Delany as brilliant, sexy, tart-tongued and tragic Dr. Megan Hunt in ABC's new Body of Proof, that the character was not built as a star vehicle just for her. The neurosurgeon-turned-medical examiner was originally written with a 35- to 40-year-old in mind.
Her casting was hailed by Deadline Hollywood Daily as this season's most dramatic example of TV "aging up."
Delany says she didn't know about the age change until she read of it.
Dr. Hunt's age "really didn't even enter my mind," adds the 55-year-old actress. "I'm not tooting my own horn here, but they said they were finding it hard to find someone you could believe was a neurosurgeon. That was the biggest challenge."
Notes the brainy Delany, who has viewed four autopsies so far, "I love the science of it. I'm fascinated by it."
She has drawn glowing reviews for her portrayal of Dr. Hunt. Her legs, shown off in lingering shots in the opening episode, drew glowing reviews, too.
"Those are my father's legs. I got them from him. My dad looked great in skirts," jokes Delany.
In Hollywood, where actresses feel pressure to look young, Delany subscribes to the view that women who are healthy and fit can look attractive at any age. Yet certainly, her appearance belies her years.
"Obviously, I'm lucky that my whole family is young-looking with good genes," she says. Beyond that, she eats healthy foods and does yoga daily, "the basic yoga I've been doing for 30 years."
"I drink a lot of water," she says. "I just live in moderation. I don't believe in denying myself. And I truly believe it's mental — if you do what makes you happy, the rest will follow. It will show."
The victim of a Botox shot that hit a nerve in 2003 ("That was minor; I talked about it so it was blown out of proportion," she says.), she has no intention of ever having plastic surgery.
"I have this theory about plastic surgery and actresses. Even when somebody looks great in life after they've had work done — interesting that we talk about it as 'work' — you see it on screen and it doesn't look good. There's something about the two-dimensionality of the screen that flattens out the image and it looks fake," says Delany.