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Eva Longoria sheds ‘Housewife’ image

Star plays a secret service agent in new thriller, ‘The Sentinel’
/ Source: The Associated Press

The “hottest woman in the world” is more than desperate.

Eva Longoria, known to “Desperate Housewives” fans as two-timing Gabrielle Solis and Maxim readers as the world’s hottest woman, takes on her first major movie role in “The Sentinel,” opening Friday.

Playing a Secret Service agent opposite Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland, Longoria ditches her designer dresses and flirty attitude in favor of smart suits and a serious demeanor.

It was an intentional move into unfamiliar territory, said Longoria, 31.

“I wanted to venture out of Gabrielle as soon as I could before people only saw me as Gabrielle,” she said. “That was my motivation, to make sure I broke out fast enough.”

It helped that Douglas, who also produced the film, extended a personal invitation.

“I said, ‘OK Michael Douglas,”’ Longoria quipped.

The line between television and film is increasingly blurred into “one big pool of actors,” Longoria said, and she plans to take advantage. The actress said she hopes to follow the path of “Housewives” co-star Felicity Huffman, who plays straight-laced Lynette Scavo on the show and earned an Oscar nod this year for her gender-bending turn in “Transamerica.”

“It really inspired all of us,” Longoria said. “I don’t think I’m anywhere near the actress she is, but I definitely aspire to be.”

Working on “The Sentinel” was a big change from hanging with the “Housewives,” she said.

“I’m going from a set of estrogen, which is nice and cozy and fun, to a set of testosterone, of boys who just want to play jokes,” said the diminutive actress. “It was just a different vibe.”

Douglas and Sutherland said Longoria fit right in.

Acting on a TV series is perfect training for movie roles, said Douglas, who developed his acting chops on the 1970s crime drama, “The Streets of San Francisco.”

TV actors have “no prima-donna behavior” and “get the job done,” he said.

Fans of Longoria’s “Housewives” work might be surprised to see her secret-agent side, Douglas said.

“I think what infuriated Kiefer and I the most is she was by far the best shot of the three of us,” he said. “She put us away with her accuracy with a gun.”

Sutherland said Longoria animated the entire cast with her infectious energy and sense of humor.

“I have a tendency to sometimes get a little serious when I’m working, and it’s impossible to do around her,” said Sutherland, who plays the very serious Jack Bauer on TV’s “24.” “I think she’s an extraordinary actor and she kind of almost betrays that sometimes because she’s got all this energy.”

Longoria directs that energy into “Housewives” and her relationship with her boyfriend, San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker. But she’s saving some for more movie roles.

“I would love to have a film career,” she said.

Longoria also hopes to have a family and move back to her native Texas, she added. But there’s no rush.

“I’m extremely happy where everything is right now.”