In this interview, Christina Hendricks (Joan Harris on AMC’s Mad Men) talks about exploring her character’s personal life and a defining moment.
Q: Peggy quit SCDP and Joan’s a partner. What do you think they’ve learned from each other?
A: Both of these women are saying, “I’ve worked really hard and I deserve this. And I’m going to take it.” And I think Joan has learned a lot from watching Peggy and seeing that it’s worked for her too.
Q: Did you ever imagine that Joan would become a partner? How does it feel?
A: It was very exciting… But as she should be. As she should be. She’s been there a long time, and she’s incredibly capable. And I think she knows what’s going on there probably more than anyone.
Q: Do you feel like there were clues in Joan’s life leading up to the way she handled the Jaguar situation? Did her decision surprise you?
A: There were moments throughout the past seasons where you see her excel at something, and it gets taken away from her, quite simply because she’s a woman or that wasn’t her position… I think she just reached a point where she wants to take care of her family. She wants to make sure her son is provided for. And she’s protecting herself and she knows she deserves it, and sadly that was her only option to get her there… I wasn’t surprised.
Q: How have you handled fan reactions to the episode?
A: I love that it’s controversial and that people are talking about it. And that it’s even an issue is fantastic. But I would say that 99% of the reactions are in support of Joan. I’ve gotten a lot of, “We’re sorry for Joan that she had to do that, but we’re happy for her now.”
Q: Do you feel like Joan is judged more harshly than the men?
A: I think people really love judging all the characters. [Laughs] I mean, I just spoke to someone who just wants to get in a brawl with Pete Campbell, so I think everyone is intrigued by these characters, and I think everyone gets their fair share.
Q: The show shares more of Joan’s personal life now. What do you enjoy most about exploring that side of her?
A: After Season 1, we just saw this personality at work, and we had an opinion of who Joan was. And as the show went on, Matthew Weiner wrote so many more dimensions to her, and you got to meet her friends, and you got to meet her lovers. And she’s just become a more developed and richer character for me to love.
Q: How do you think having a baby has affected Joan’s work life? She was so concerned about being replaced, but ended up landing a spot at the top of the food chain…
A: She’s more exhausted for sure. And I think it’s making her check her priorities. You know, I think the reason she made this decision last year was solely to protect herself and her son. Now she has to consider him in every decision she makes.
VIDEO: Hello Again, Joan
Q: So much has changed over the course of five seasons for Joan. What do you consider her defining moment?
A: She’s so many things, that’s why I love her so much… But I think back to the tractor episode where the John Deere runs over the guy’s foot and Joan comes to the rescue and wraps it all up. I sort of think of her that way, as taking care of everyone.
Q: Joan’s fashion has stayed pretty consistent over the seasons. Are we going to see her trying styles from the late ’60s?
A: She’s definitely raising hemlines and widening the pencil skirts to A-lines and trying some of the groovier fabrics, but at the end of the day, Joan knows what works for her. Sort of like my mom, like every time I see her, she’s wearing some version of something that she wore in the ’80s because that’s what works for her and she loves it and she feels good that way. [Laughs]
Q: I’ve read that Janie Bryant has really turned you onto to tailored pieces…
A: Absolutely. I’m sitting here in a pencil skirt as we speak, which I can honestly say I didn’t have in my closet beforehand.
Q: You’re a whiskey enthusiast — and now spokeswoman. Does it make you feel more in touch with your Mad Men self?
A: Joan is a gin drinker, most consistently. She’ll kind of drink whatever is available in the room, but if she had her druthers, she’d drink gin. But I prefer whiskey to gin in my real life.