Felicity Huffman Didn't Feel as Pretty as Her Desperate Housewives Costars, Says Creator Marc Cherry
In response to prosecutors recommending Huffman, 56, be sentenced to one month in jail, followed by 12 months of supervised release and a fine of $20,000, Cherry submitted a letter of support for the actress where he detailed how polite and kind she always has been.
The showrunner, 57, also recalled one particular memory shortly after the long-running ABC drama was picked up when he said Huffman did not feel as beautiful as her Desperate Housewives costars at a press event.
“When our show was picked up, we flew the cast to a press event in NY. Felicity and her cast members (Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross, and Nicollette Sheridan) were swarmed by photographers,” he wrote in the letter obtained by PEOPLE. “Every woman was dolled up to the nines and for the first time, Felicity started to feel insecure about her appearance.”
Cherry went on to explain that “people were commenting on how extraordinarily beautiful the cast was,” but Huffman was the only actress who had not previously modeled or played a “sexy vamp” before landing the role on the series.
“After the event feeling self-conscious, Felicity called her husband character actor William H. Macy and said to him somewhat tearfully, ‘I feel like the ugliest one in the room,'” he wrote in the letter.
“Bill’s response? ‘I always feel like I’m the ugliest one in the room,'” Cherry continued. “He made Felicity laugh and see the ridiculousness of her insecurity. She told me, ‘That’s the last time I ever worried about comparing myself to my costars.'”
The actress — who shares daughters Sophia, 19, and Georgia, 17, with Macy — previously touched upon her insecurities in her own letter to the judge, where she described her “desperation to be a good mother” as one reason for why she participated in a plan fix her daughter’s SAT exams and facilitate her entries into good schools.
“From the moment my children were born I was worried that they got me as a Mother. I so desperately wanted to do right and was so deathly afraid of doing it wrong,” she wrote. “My own fears and lack of confidence, combined with a daughter who has learning disabilities often made me insecure and feel highly anxious from the beginning.”
“In my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot. I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair,” Huffman continued. “I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter, and failed my family.”
Besides discussing her insecurities, Cherry spoke about Huffman’s kindness on set in his letter — particularly when there was a “problematic cast member” on the show who ultimately decided she “would no longer speak to her fellow cast members.”
“Felicity still insisted on saying, ‘Good morning’ to this actress, even though she knew she wouldn’t get a response,” Cherry wrote. “I found out about this and asked Felicity about it. She smiled and said, ‘Just because that woman’s determined to be rude, doesn’t mean she can keep me from being polite.'”
Cherry wasn’t the only person from Desperate Housewives to pen a letter of support for Huffman amid the trial — Eva Longoria was also among the 27 people who submitted a letter to the judge in support of the actress.
In her two-page letter, obtained by PEOPLE, Longoria, 44, recalled “numerous wonderful memories” she shared with Huffman, including their time on the set of the ABC drama that ran from 2004 to 2012.
“I worked with Felicity for nearly a decade of my life on a television show. Seeing her every day of every week for nearly 15 hours a day. When I began the TV show, I was very new to the business and industry as a whole. Felicity was the first one to take me under her wing,” Longoria wrote.
The mother of one reflected on the cast’s first table read, during which she sat alone, “scared and unsure,” but it was Huffman’s “gentle character and kind heart” that reassured Longoria.
“She sat down beside me and never left my side since that day,” Longoria noted, adding that she was “bullied at work by a co-worker” but the “anxiety” of the incident “stopped” when Huffman intervened.
After providing multiple examples of Huffman’s friendship on and off the set of Desperate Housewives, Longoria ended her letter by writing, “She always leads with her heart and has always put others first. This is why I still call her my friend today and always.”
Huffman pleaded guilty on May 13 to her role in the college admissions scandal, in which she paid $15,000 to facilitate cheating on daughter Sophia’s SAT test by having a proctor correct the teen’s answers.
PEOPLE confirmed on Friday that prosecutors recommended the actress face one month in prison, followed by 12 months of supervised release and a $20,000 fine.
Through her attorneys, Huffman asked the judge on the case for one year of probation and community service instead.
In Huffman’s sentencing memorandum, which was reviewed by PEOPLE, prosecutors described her conduct as “deliberate and manifestly criminal.”
“It was wrong, she knew it was wrong, and she actively participated in manipulating her daughter’s guidance counselor, the testing services and the schools to which her daughter applied,” the document reads. “Her efforts weren’t driven by need or desperation, but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness, facilitated by wealth and insularity.”
The mother of two will be sentenced on Sept. 13.