Women rise to the top in "Mad Men"

Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:19pm EDT
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By Sarah Kuhn

LOS ANGELES (Back Stage) - "Mad Men" may be named for the guys, but the women rule the roost.

Take Christina Hendricks' savvy office manager Joan Harris (nee Holloway), a glamour girl who choreographs her every move with the precision of a five-star general drawing up battle plans. Or how about January Jones' frustrated housewife Betty Draper, whose icy veneer masks a woman constantly on the verge of coming undone? And of course, there's up-and-comer Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), a gifted copywriter finding her voice during the upheaval of the series' 1960s-era setting.

As the critically acclaimed AMC series begins its fourth season, the Emmy-nominated trio chatted about auditioning, typecasting, and being women in a world of "Men."


Christina Hendricks: It was pilot season. It's that crazy time of year when we all go nuts. I had already auditioned for a bunch of stuff, and I was feeling depleted. I had gotten the script, and I was super excited and went to work on the audition with my best friend. I remember breaking down and crying because I was so tired. I was like, "I'm not doing anything with this role; I don't know what I'm doing." She helped me so much, so I had every word down and went in and enjoyed myself and had a really good audition. They brought me back to read the Midge role: the bohemian lover of Don Draper. At the time, they hadn't decided which characters were going to be regulars on the show and which were going to be guest stars. I said, "I'll take whatever one stays!" The women's roles were so beautiful.

January Jones: I went in for the role of Peggy twice. Ultimately, I wasn't right for it. ("Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner) said, "There is this other role." He wasn't sure what he was going to do with it, and there weren't any real lines for Betty at the time. He wrote a couple scenes overnight -- really amazing scenes, actually -- and I came in and read for him, and that was it. I just wanted to be involved in the show in any way; I think we all felt that. It was such a unique project, and it was the best thing I'd read in a long time.

Elisabeth Moss: I auditioned twice. I did two scenes both times, and it felt like a really good fit for the part. I loved playing Peggy; I just really felt at home playing that character. I knew who she was, and I knew why she was doing what she was doing. And the person that I thought she was the person Matt wrote.


<p>Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in AMC's "Mad Men". REUTERS/Handout</p>