24's Jean Smart

updated 03/27/2006 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/27/2006 01:00AM

AGE: 54

HOMETOWN: Los Angeles

LATEST GIG: Earning Emmy buzz as plucky if unstable First Lady Martha Logan on 24

ON HER CRAZY CHARACTER Although people like to speculate about which political wife Smart is patterning her troubled First Lady on, the Seattle-born actress actually sees Martha as larger than life. "She's like Blanche DuBois [from A Streetcar Named Desire]," says Smart. "Being ignored by her husband is horrible—that would drive [anyone] into madness."

ON DESIGNING WOMEN "We were the four most goody-two-shoes little girls you had ever seen," says Smart, scoffing at reports that the Designing (1986-93) cast was constantly in catfights. For example, she says, she and actor husband Richard Gilliland, 56 (then Smart's fiancé and a DW guest star), agreed to shrink their 1987 honeymoon to a long weekend to accommodate the show's production schedule. "I just said, 'Oh,'" says Smart. "Today I would say, 'Sorry, I am not going to be in the first episode or two.' I was such a wimp then."

ON SUDDENLY BEING COOL "My son Connor [16] is finally impressed with his mother," says Smart. "He brought friends to the set one day and Kiefer [Sutherland] came over. They were thrilled beyond belief." Connor is pretty impressed with his dad too, now that Gilliland is set to reunite onscreen with Smart—as a pilot—in an upcoming episode of 24. Smart's big wish: "I've never had a scene with Kiefer, and I hope I will. Women find him enormously attractive, which is always a plus. He is offbeat cute, not pretty cute."

ON MISTAKEN IDENTITIES "For the last few years, people have mistaken me for Kim Cattrall," says Smart, who recalls a fellow airline passenger handing her a business card with a note on the back: "'I loved you on [Sex and the City], and p.s., I respect your privacy.' My husband said, 'He thinks he's seen you naked.' I thought, 'I am not going to wander down the aisles looking for him just to tell him he has not seen me naked.'"

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