Cranky Miss Blankenship takes Randee Heller to the Emmys

Thu Sep 8, 2011 2:12pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Randee Heller is walking the Emmy red carpet for the first time this year, but hoping that her many fans -- some of whom created a Facebook page in her honor -- won't recognize her.

That's because the "Mad Men" actress is nominated for her guest role in the 1960s TV drama as the cantankerous, racist, octogenarian secretary Miss Blankenship -- a character that added 20 years and hours of make-up to Heller's real self.

Heller, 64, talked and laughed with Reuters ahead of the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony on Saturday about the brief life (and hilarious death) of Miss Blankenship, and how 10 years ago she almost gave up working as an actress.

Q; What were you told about the character of Miss Blankenship when you were first cast on Season 4 of "Mad Men"?

A; "Literally nothing. (Creator) Matt Weiner approached me and said, 'first of all we are going to make you look terrible. Is that okay?' and I said 'sure, have fun'. The first thing I knew is that they were really going to age me up. That process took a couple of hours. They aged my skin, put on brown age spots, and then the wig and glasses.

"They wanted a very strong New York accent -- which is not difficult for me to do -- and they just said, she is very loud, and I said to myself she probably has a hearing problem and she has been in the office for decades and nobody intimidates her. As the weeks progressed they would tell me little bits here and there -- that she was the 'Queen of Perversions' and I was like WHAT? So it was fun, kind of a surprise."

Q: How big a shock was it when you learned Miss B. was going to be killed off?

A: "I had no idea she was going to die. I was so disappointed, but they said you are going to have the greatest death of all time (Laughs). In retrospect, I really did understand this was the best arc for her because you couldn't really push it any further. She's not going to sleep with Don Draper! So it was perfect. It was a great smattering of her character."   Continued...