Actress puts the "Mad Men" in their place

Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:39am EDT
 
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - For all the attention heaped on Jon Hamm and the male cast of "Mad Men," now in its third season on AMC, Elisabeth Moss is arguably the heart of the drama.

Now an Emmy nominee for the first time, the Los Angeles native and former ballerina worked steadily as a child actor before breaking through as the first daughter on NBC's "The West Wing." "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner picked her to play ambitious adwoman Peggy Olson after auditioning Moss and January Jones (who ended up cast as Betty Draper, the wife of Jon Hamm's character).

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: MATT WEINER'S NEGOTIATION FOR A NEW DEAL WITH (PRODUCER) LIONSGATE AND AMC GOT PRETTY HEATED LAST FALL. WAS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU AND THE CAST THOUGHT YOU MIGHT HAVE A NEW BOSS THIS SEASON?

Elisabeth Moss: We were standing on the sidelines. We all talked about it, as you'd speculate on whether you're going to have a job. We were unanimous in feeling that this was Matt's show and we wanted him to get what he wanted, but at the same time, we wanted to go back and make more (episodes). I think we all would have followed Matt wherever he went, but we also love working with AMC. I am just happy it worked out.

THE GOSSIP MAGAZINES RECENTLY PUBLISHED A PHOTO FROM THE SET OF THE DRAPERS HOLDING A BABY, WHICH MUST HAVE REALLY TICKED OFF WEINER. HOW TIGHT IS HIS GRIP ON PLOT DETAILS?

Moss: It is so important to Matt, and to the way the story is told, that things remain secret if possible. But I can say that (this season) Peggy starts becoming more of Don's protege and moves up in that world. She goes down paths that are wrong for her, but she is just trying to figure out what it means to be in her position in that man's world. I don't honestly know if she is going to figure it out. Does she have to be like Don, or can she be her own person?

DESPITE ALL THE EMMY ATTENTION AND MEDIA COVERAGE, RATINGS REMAIN RELATIVELY SMALL. IS THAT FRUSTRATING FOR YOU?

Moss: I want the show to go as long as possible, so of course I want more people to watch it. But the success so far is way beyond what a lot of us expected, so it's hard to complain. I'm sure the network and studio want more ratings, but I can't believe that the show even happened.   Continued...

 
<p>Cast member Jon Hamm (R) smiles next to co-stars January Jones (C) and Elisabeth Moss during a panel for the AMC television series "Mad Men" at the Television Critics Association 2008 summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 9, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>