Elisabeth Moss puts 'Mad Men's' Peggy Olson on the career track
Sitting poolside with Elisabeth Moss, who’s wearing a white summer dress, her brown hair wet and combed back and looking “cute as hell” (as Don Draper memorably described her character, Peggy Olson, on “Mad Men”), it’s pretty easy to picture the day Moss walked into show creator Matt Weiner’s office five years ago to read for the show.
“It was the very first day of auditions,” Weiner remembers, “and she was the second person to read. Not just for Peggy, but for the show, period. Someone came in to read for Don. I did not like him. And then she came in, and she was so young, wearing this ingénue dress, with her hair long and straight. And all of a sudden, I just saw Peggy. She was just complete in every way.”
"After Elisabeth walked out, I said, ‘So, we need to get two or three people like that and I’ll pick the best one,’ not realizing there wasn’t going to be anyone else like her," Weiner continues. "And, later, I remember waking up in the middle of the night during the first season thinking, ‘Oh, God. What if I hadn’t cast her?’"
It’s a question Moss herself can’t even begin to answer. She was 23 when she shot the “Mad Men” pilot and, with AMC and Weiner agreeing to extend the show at least two more seasons, she could be in her 30s when it ends. She has taken Peggy from a green, 20-year-old secretary to fledgling copywriter to confident career woman, a character arc more dramatic than the story lines of any other employee of the advertisement agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
You could plot that journey any number of ways, starting with the way Peggy navigates the office’s rampant sexism (most of her co-workers believe she slept with Don to land the copywriting job), coping with and, increasingly, conquering the feelings of alienation inherent in being a ’60s woman working in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
But Moss says for a quick snapshot of Peggy’s progression, look to her hairstyle. Beginning with last season, Peggy’s bangs, previously worn split down the middle, were swept to the side — a change that nearly made Moss weep for joy.
“It wasn’t even the way they looked, which … uh … I didn’t like,” Moss says, laughing. “They were just so difficult to deal with. So when I showed up in hair and makeup and they told me they were going to sweep them to the side, it was like a victory for me and for Peggy.”
The entire fourth “Mad Men” season felt like a triumph for Moss too, with the series shifting its focus away from the Drapers’ domestic drama and back to the office. Peggy’s relationship with Don deepened emotionally in the season’s seventh episode, “The Suitcase,” which, for many, ranks as the best “Mad Men” episode. (See sidebar.) She solidified her place at work, deep-sixed an unsatisfying romantic relationship, hooked up with Brooklyn hipster Abe and shed some of the squareness that earlier defined her. She has friends her age now. She’s not going to turn into a hippie, but by next season, she might actually be cooler than Don.
“There’s no way Don’s generation can last, and he knows it and Peggy knows it,” Moss says. “It’s interesting to see these characters meeting in the middle as one goes up and one goes down and they’re kind of hovering in the same place at this particular moment.”
Not that Moss has some kind of pipeline into what Weiner is planning for the show’s fifth season, which, because of protracted renewal negotiations, won’t begin airing until March. In fact, what Moss likes most about Peggy is that this pioneering woman isn’t defined. She could go anywhere, which, Weiner says, speaks well of the actress playing her.
“I feel very close to the character and I feel very close to Elisabeth,” Weiner says. “I love the fact that Elisabeth imbues Peggy with a little earnest self-righteousness. Peggy’s not a political person. She just wants to be measured for her work. And you really feel with Elisabeth that it’s coming from a place that’s both virtuous and selfish. She’s not a symbol. She’s just a person who’s doing what she wants to do and it just happens that a lot of what she’s doing is groundbreaking.”
they are for sure ending mad men after three more seasons?
Well, Jon Hamm has signed a 3 season deal, but I think I read somewhere that Weiner signed one that’s up to 3 seasons. I’d have to do some reading up, really, but I think it’d be silly to go past season 6. Either way, Weiner knows what he’s doing. That I do know.
Jon Hamm Signs Eight-Figure, Three-Year Mad Men Contract
Jon Hamm has inked an eight-figure, three-year Mad Men contract with Lionsgate and AMC, according to Deadline. The salary bump, which makes him one of the highest-paid actors on cable, comes with an extra year on Hamm’s contract. The news comes on the heels of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s multi-year deal with AMC, which keeps Mad Men on the air for at least two more seasons. The series is expected to return to AMC in 2012. Collectively: Yay.
John Slattery Sets Us Straight: 'Mad Men' Is No Fun for Its Characters
John Slattery’s Emmy odds have never been better.
The “Mad Men” star is almost certain to be nominated for a fourth straight year in the best drama supporting actor category, following a wrenching season for his character, Roger Sterling. Roger’s impulsive marriage to a secretary, Jane, seems in danger, and his career suffered when he lost his firm’s biggest client.
Meanwhile, some of Slattery’s main competitors in the category are gone: The end of “Lost” takes Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson out of the running, and “Breaking Bad” was off the air during the eligibility period, sidelining last year’s winner, Aaron Paul.
Slattery also has two backup plans: He’s eligible for directing two “Mad Men” episodes and guest-starring as a loony congressional candidate on “30 Rock.” Would he be okay with winning for something other than playing Roger?
"I’d take it for craft service, I don’t care," Slattery told TheWrap. "You don’t want to sound blasé because of course it’s an extraordinary thing if you get nominated for anything, but then you sort of have to put it out of your head. It’s like spending a day on another planet. It has nothing to do with your life. It’s all great."
Slattery talked to TheWrap about why our understanding of the “Mad Men”-era is dead wrong, the pursuit of momentary happiness, and his work in advertising on and off the show.
Was Roger and Joan’s mugging last season a sign that the New York of the show is moving from the urban paradise of the ’60s to the grittier, more dangerous ’70s? I don’t know what “Mad Men” you’re watching, but if you think that’s paradise, you must have a better prescription than I do. Those people do not seem like they’re living in paradise to me. Don Draper’s character kind of bottoms out. My character becomes someone who turned from having the one client that turned the lights on in the place to having more questions than answers at this point. I think that’s actually what makes the show so interesting. Most of those people are dissatisfied with their lot despite how good they seemingly have it.
Right, I was thinking of the clothes, long lunches and cocktails in the office. I don’t think it got a hell of a lot better in the ’70s. The drugs changed, a little bit. … I don’t think the show deals in the sort of cliché version of the idealistic ’60s versus the hedonistic ’70s.
Do you play Roger as someone who’s genuinely happy with doing whatever he wants, or as someone who’s unhappy and trying to get whatever momentary happiness he can? I don’t think it’s a cut-and-dry affair. I think what makes the character so interesting is that the character is complicated. One minute he’s happy and feels like he’s got things under control and that his life is complete, and the next he’s in despair. He has a heart attack and sees that life is short and finite and tries to take steps to be happy. Life’s mercurial and he tries to be happy, and is happy for a while, and then isn’t.
The marriage to Jane is doomed, right? [Laughs.] For a time there it seemed like it was the only happy relationship on the show. Obviously he’s attracted to Joan in many ways. I don’t think Roger is naïve enough to think any one element or person is going to make you a happy person. You just try to get through the day.
Roger could always remarry Mona (Talia Balsam), since you’re married in real-life. That would be good. I’d like to see more Mona. Good character.
How close do you think the show came to losing Matthew Weiner during his negotiations earlier this year with AMC and Lionsgate? He might say something different — I wasn’t privy to all the ins and outs — but I don’t think anybody at either the studio or the network thinks the show can be done without Matthew. It’s his show. Yes, there are writers there, but every time I talk to them they give him great credit, and it’s his show.
I guess it could go on — I mean it’s happened before. It certainly wouldn’t be the same. I can’t imagine how it would be anywhere near as good.
Were you worried about the reports that Weiner was asked to cut six from the cast? Did you take that seriously at all? Of course well-meaning people will send you a link saying, “Well, the first person who should be killed is Roger Sterling because he provides no function on the show anymore. In the agency he has no client anymore.”
Did I worry about it? I thought about it. I thought well, I guess they could cut me out. It happens. We’ve lost characters. If story dictates that characters have to go, they have to go. So is it conceivable that Roger could have another heart attack or just walk into the sunset and retire? Sure, it could happen.
Weiner was also asked to add more explicit product placements to the show. Would that have bothered you?
If I was the creator of anything — a movie, a television show, a play — and someone came to me and said I need you to put more Pepsi and General Motors in the show and mention the names — in fact, I’m involved in a movie right now and the company loaned us a car, but the company said we have to say the name of the car. And I’m like, “Well, that’s crazy.” But that’s how business is. It’s been that way forever. It’s not the way you want to create a show.
And you’re not a hardliner against advertising. You’ve done Lincoln ads. Yeah. Having to create story around a product because they’re paying is a different thing than “brought to you by.” … At first I thought, well, do I want to do this? And you look around and it’s hard to find someone who isn’t doing it to one degree or another.
"She Has Wanted This Very Badly," Says Mad Men Boss
While January Jones' pregnancy certainly surprised us, it sounds like it may not have exactly shocked her friends and family.
OK, maybe they didn’t expect it would happen while she was single and determined not to publicly name the baby’s father, but…
"She has wanted this very badly," Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner told me at yesterday’s inaugural Critics’ Choice Television Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “She’s got a big heart and she’s been talking about having children since I met her, which is not always common with actresses.
"I think she’s going to be amazing," he continued. "She is going to be someone is going to be so devoted."
Weiner remained tightlipped about how the pregnancy will—or will not—be dealt with on the show, “I have to do something about it, but I’m not going to tell,” he said. “It could be laundry baskets or it could be a body double. There are a million things you can do.”
In other Mad Men news, you have already heard that star Jon Hamm is set to direct an upcoming episode. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time,” Weiner said. “I’m very excited by it. He’s on set more than anybody. He’s a very creative person and he’s sophisticated artistically. He’s very involved. No one is surprised that this is the next step for him.”
EXCLUSIVE: Jared Harris talks 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' 'Mad Men,' and 'Fringe'
Sherlock Holmes may be one of the greatest fictional detectives ever created but the mystery surrounding who would play his archenemy Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, the sequel to the 2009 hit film Sherlock Holmes, appeared to be a bigger puzzle than even the great sleuth could solve. While the character was featured in the first film, it was only briefly, and mostly all we got was a body double’s hands and an unknown actor’s voice over. Director Guy Ritchie declined to say just exactly who voiced the role, and while actor Ed Tolputt was credited in the movie as “Anonymous Man,” it is unclear if that referred to Moriarty. Rumors soon began to spread that the role was actually performed by Brad Pitt who chose to take no credit for the film, although those rumors were eventually debunked. But when casting began on the sequel, and it was determined that the famous villain would have a larger role in this movie, rumors began to fly once again that Ritchie and his producers were trying to woo The Curious Case of Benjamin Button actor to take on the part. Ultimately Pitt did not except the role and rather than casting another major movie star like Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn, or Gary Oldman (who were all up for the part), Ritchie decided to go with the lesser known yet equally exceptional veteran actor Jared Harris (Mad Men, Fringe).
I recently had a chance to speak with actor Jared Harris about his role in legendary director John Carpenter’s latest film The Ward, which opens in theaters on July 8th. While speaking to Harris, I first took the opportunity to ask the seasoned actor about his role in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows and Harris mentioned that he had completed filming his scenes for the film back in February. I followed up by asking the actor if it was a challenge for him to step into a role, that even briefly, had been played by someone else in the first film and how his Moriarty will sink up with the one we saw in the previous movie. “Well whatever happened in that earlier movie is obviously part of the build up to the character in this story and stuff like that,” he explained. “But I didn’t look at it and try to figure out a way to always stay in the shadows or something so you can’t see my face. It’s a new story and obviously the character is connected to that first movie but it doesn’t follow on exactly or directly from that story. I had license to interpret it and do it however I’d like to.”
I next asked Harris if he is taking any cues for the character from the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books or simply just from the script by screenwriters Kieran and Michele Mulroney. “Well they are very concerned with being faithful to the spirit of the books while giving themselves license to recreate the story in a different and modern era,” Harris explained. “The audience’s familiarity with pop structure and stuff like that has improved and is now more sophisticated in the sense that we are so used to seeing so many of these types of stories. So they are trying to do it in a different way.” I also asked the actor if he had the opportunity to share any scenes with actor Robert Downey Jr. who plays the title role of Holmes. “Yes, He’s wonderful. I can’t speak highly enough of the man’s talent, and as a person as well. He’s an extremely generous man, he is very charming, and he’s incredibly accessible. I am a really big fan of his I have to say.”
Harris is of course best known to TV viewers as Lance Pryce, Sterling Cooper’s English financial officer on AMC’s critically acclaimed series Mad Men. Fans of the series, which ended its forth season last October, unfortunately will have to wait a while for the upcoming fifth season to premiere due to a lengthy contract negotiation between AMC and the show’s creator Matthew Weiner that was reported on quite thoroughly in the press. While negotiations have been settled and the series will be back filming this summer, Mad Men fans will most likely have to wait until 2012 for the next season. I took the chance to ask Harris about returning to the show and if knows yet when the cast will begin filming. “I haven’t been told yet but I think it is sometime in August,” the actor confirmed. “We haven’t been officially told yet. I know that they’ve opened the writer’s room and they are writing scripts and doing what they do.” I followed up by asking Harris if it is difficult as an actor having so much time off between seasons on a TV series like Mad Men, and if the time off makes it harder to get back into character. “Well I’m looking forward to going back to work. I am curious what happens next and where this season goes. I think we are all fans of the show, those who work on the show, so we’ll see.”
Finally, Harris has also had a recurring role on the popular Fox sci-fi series Fringe, where he plays ZFT cult leader David Robert Jones. While Harris’ character was killed in the season one finale, fans of the series know that anything is possible on Fringe, and with the introduction of a parallel universe, any deceased character could easily make a comeback. I finished my conversation with the actor by asking him if he thinks its possible that he may return to Fringe one day. “I don’t know about that yet,” he answered. “I’m not sure what’s going on but I love the show and I am a fan of it. I’ve watched every single episode that they’ve made and I’m fascinated by what they are doing with the show. I mean Leonard Nimoy possessing Olivia Dunham’s body was absolutely genius. It was f—-ing great! I love that show so yes, I’d be up for doing it again.”
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows is scheduled for release on December, 16th.
The Ward opens in theaters everywhere on July, 8th.
MichaelAusiello Michael Ausiello And… Margo Martindale from JUSTIFIED!! 28 minutes ago MichaelAusiello Michael Ausiello Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama goes to … It’s a tie! Christina Hendricks from MAD MEN! And…
Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men’s Sally Draper) Designs Her Own Dresses
Photo: The Coveteur
The Coveteur recently profiled the closet and home of Kiernan Shipka, better known as Mad Men‘s Sally Draper. The precocious tween dresses a lot like her TV counterpart–favoring early ’60s Peter Pan-collared girly silhouettes from a Portuguese brand called Papo d’ Anjo. But when she’s not wearing Papo d’Anjo (which is hardly ever, it seems), she makes her own dresses (see above, left).
“This dress is actually an original design of mine,” Shipka told the Coveteur. “I love the color and the fabric, which is a raw silk taffeta. I spent days going through all the fabric shops in downtown LA to find this fabric… I made many changes to the dress along the way. It took about a year to finish. It turned out great!” We agree. Shipka has already got her own signature style down pat–do we smell another actress-turned-designer?
In the very least, she seems organized enough to take on any task–if her closet is any indication. “I organize things by clothing type and by season,” she told the site. “My dresses are together, as well as my skirts, hats, jackets, tops, scarfs, sweaters, and shoes! I hate a messy closet. I totally freak out when my closet is messy and I can’t find anything…I split my clothes into two closets according to seasons. Though I have to go to the guest room to pull my fall and winter items, it’s still much easier than cramming all my clothes together in my one closet. I love “space” in between hanging clothes.” Kiernan, if you aren’t busy filming could you come by and organize my closet?
TV show Mad Men launched Bryan Batt to worldwide fame but the cable smash hit had its downside.
It got him hooked on cigarettes.
"A lot of the cast started smoking as a result of the show," Batt told Confidential yesterday during his Sydney visit.
"So we would smoke these herbal cigarettes on set. Then we would get a break and we’d all run outside and smoke real cigarettes."
But Batt, who played closet gay ad executive Salvatore Romano in three seasons of the show, kicked the habit early.
"It’s such a god-awful habit," he said.
"My mother just passed away from lung cancer and she didn’t smoke, so the thought of putting anything in my lungs that shouldn’t be there … "
Batt is in Australia for his one-man cabaret show Batt On A Hot Tin Roof, which starts at The Basement on June 30.
Batt hinted at a possible return for his character, who was written out after season three. “I have had a call from [executive producer] Matt Weiner, who said, ‘He’s still alive and he may re-emerge some time soon’.”