Nicollette Sheridan told a Los Angeles jury on Thursday that "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry "hit" her "upside the head" and then begged her forgiveness "on bended knee," months before her character was killed off the ABC drama series.
The 48-year-old actress, who played sexy and feisty Edie Britt on the ABC drama series between 2004 and 2009, made her comments during her first day of testimony in a $6 million wrongful termination and battery case.
Sheridan filed her lawsuit against Cherry in April 2010. Cherry's lawyer, Adam Levin, told the jury in his opening statement on Wednesday that Cherry had decided Britt must die in May 2008, four months before the alleged incident. He also said the "hit" Sheridan references was "a light tap on the head" intended to demonstrate "a piece of physical humor" Cherry wanted her to perform in the scene.
On Thursday, Sheridan and her attorney re-enacted the actress' view of the confrontation to the jurors.
Sheridan said that while rehearsing a scene on Sept. 24, 2008, she had asked Cherry to write her a funny exit line, The Hollywood Reporter said, quoting the actress as saying: "He got agitated and annoyed and didn't respond."
Sheridan said Cherry then led her away and asked what she wanted. She said she offered an explanation but that he cut her off.
"Mr. Cherry approached me from the left-hand side and hit me upside the head," Deadline.com quoted Sheridan as saying, adding that she said the strike was made with an open palm and that the "hard hit" called her to jerk back.
"I'm not accustomed to being hit," the website quoted the actress as saying. "It was unfathomable to me that I had just been hit by my boss. It was demeaning; it was humiliating."
Sheridan said she later told Cherry: "You hit me in the head. That is not OK, that is not OK."
The actress said he later approached her on the doorstep to her trailer.
"He said, 'I am on bended knee begging your forgiveness,'" The Hollywood Reporter quoted Sheridan as telling the jury. "I said, 'Why would you do that? He wrapped his arms around me and apologized again. Then he changed the subject."
Sheridan said Cherry then left and that he re-wrote the script for the scene she was supposed to film with different dialgoue. She said she told her lawyer, her assistants and friends and co-star Neal McDonough, who played Britt's husband, about the alleged incident. When asked by her attorney why she returned to the set, she said she was a "professional" and "wasn't going to let everybody else down."
Sheridan's lawyer said on Wednesday that Cherry was "making up the explanation for smacking someone on the head" by claiming it was for a scene on the series. As the attorney spoke, Sheridan broke down and cried in court.The trial is expected to last for about two weeks. 'Desperate Housewives' is on its eighth season and is scheduled to air its series finale in May.
Sheridan was making $175,000 per episode by the show's fifth season, which was her last. A summary judgement filed by ABC and Cherry had said: "Sheridan was obviously unhappy to lose her job as a highly-compensated star of 'Desperate Housewives.' However, she cannot state a legal claim based on the creative decisions and actions challenged in her lawsuit."
Remaining "Desperate Housewives" actresses Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria-Parker, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross have so far remained neutral regarding the charges and had said in statements that their work environment is not hostile. Many cast members of the show are set to testify during the trial.
Sheridan's attorney said on Wednesday that Sheridan lost "the most lucrative job of her career" and while 47 actors who played minor roles were written off of "Desperate Housewives," Sheridan was the "main character". He added that her final episode was "poorly written."
Her final appearance on the show was in May 2009. Sheridan went on to star in the 2010 Hallmark television movie "Honeymoon for One."
She has other projects in the works - she provides the voice of a character in an upcoming animated film called "Noah's Ark: The New Beginning," which also stars Michael Keaton, Marcia Gay Harden and Jason Mewes and hits theaters this year. Sheridan also filmed the romantic comedy "Jewtopia," which also stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jon Lovitz.