There have already been excerpts from Christina Hendricks’ Los Angeles Times Magazine interview floating around, notably her description of being a natural blonde who was “over the moon” to dye her hair red. But there’s a lot more to the interview – and there are photos from the magazine shoot too. As you all know, I love Christina. I think she’s beautiful and amazing and talented, and I love the way she’s been embraced as a not-so-new kind of beauty ideal. That being said, I often find Christina’s styling to be crap. Both in real life and for proper photo shoots. I think photographers and stylists are so used to dealing with women who are just hangers for designers, and they don’t know how to handle Christina’s figure. Plus, she’s a pale redhead who doesn’t (or won’t) tan, so her styling can often tend towards “corpsey”. For this LAT Mag shoot, they went corpsey, with a dash of china-doll. It’s not all that great.
As for the interview, it’s extensive. The full piece is here, and here are some of the highlights:
Leslie Gornstein: Let’s talk about Joan Holloway [Christina‘s character on Mad Men]—or I guess it’s Joan Harris now.
Christina Hendricks: The new last name always breaks my heart a little. I am so attached to Holloway.
Joan seems to be one of the most nuanced female characters on TV in a long time. She clearly believes that dressing sexy and seducing the men in the office are part of the path of survival. And yet female viewers identify with her strength. She’s clearly not to be toyed with. Do you see her as a feminist?
You know, I think there are elements of that. Joan certainly is in the workforce before many women did such a thing, and she excels at it. She really has all these men on their knees in terms of needing her professionally, and I think there’s nothing wrong with how she has gone about getting there. I don’t think it’s not feminist to use every tool you have to succeed, and part of that is being a woman—presenting yourself in a certain way. And yet she has these things in her home life, with her husband, that are very old-fashioned and frustrating. She is definitely a woman of her times.
Women viewers seem more protective of Joan than any of the show’s other female characters. I imagine it’s her potential.
I always worry about Joan—I love her. I say to [creator] Matt Weiner all the time, “Please! She’s had such a hard time! Give her a bone—come on!” But true to Mad Men fashion, not the happiest things happen. Still, she always lifts her head up and fights back, and that’s one reason people respond to her. She gets back up again, cleans it up and moves on with a smile.
Joan has sprung to life on her own online. There’s a What Would Joan Do? blog, and she’s apparently Tweeting, even though she technically shouldn’t even have a PC. What hath Christina wrought?
Yeah, I heard about What Would Joan Do? I thought it was hilarious and very clever. I know there are people out there using Twitter in the voice of characters on the show, but I don’t really get that. The whole thing confuses me. It’s a very 2010 sort of deal.
You have said that you auditioned for a Woody Allen role, but he turned you down for being “too sweet.” Had he not seen Mad Men?
I think that comment was probably snipped out of an entire paragraph of something I said. Essentially, this is what happened: I auditioned for this sort of crass, cockney character—very, very blue collar and a little rough around the edges. And he said he felt I wasn’t rough enough and, in that context, maybe I was a little too sweet.
Have you gotten any meaner? Should we call Woody back?
I tried! I really hope that if he heard about that comment, he wasn’t offended in any way. He is, like, my dream director.
A friend insisted I ask you about your three-episode role in the late sci-fi show Firefly. Are sci-fi fans more obsessive?
I think sci-fi fans are so committed. They’re so immersed in this universe. Over the years, it seems Firefly has only gained momentum rather than lost it. I still get letters from people who watched the show—I get more Firefly than Mad Men letters.
Are you a sci-fi person?
I grew up in a sci-fi family, and my brother and dad are really into that kind of thing. It’s always fun for my brother to see me in a spaceship.
You’ve said you started dying your blond hair red at age 10. How exactly did you sell that choice to your folks?
They did it to me! I was obsessed with the Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables. I decided I was Anne of Green Gables. There was something that spoke to me about her, and I wanted to have her beautiful red hair. So my mother said, “Let’s just go to the drugstore and get one of those cover-the-gray rinses!” My hair was very blond at the time, but it went carrot red. And I was over the moon. I went to school the next day and felt like myself. And then I went back [to that color] over and over again. What a cool mom, right?
Back during awards season, you wore black dresses to two major events, including the Elton John Oscar party, and fashion journalists noticed enough to ask about your break from bright colors. Has that kind of press scrutiny changed how you choose red-carpet looks?
A little. I remember that very instance, and I thought, Oh my God, that is so weird—I didn’t even realize I’d done that. But there is such a business these days based on being critical. It’s always been there, but now there are entire magazines devoted to shredding people—who wore the worst dress, who had the worst cellulite. It just, you know, hurts your soul. At the end of the day, you’re just going to a big party. You have to remind yourself to wear the things you love. Sometimes your friends or a stylist will go, “Yeah…no.” Sometimes you can’t see yourself with objectivity, but you have to go with what you think is pretty. You’re borrowing these dresses to wear to events, and sometimes they don’t feel like you—like something I would ever wear.
Earlier this year, you told Glamour: “It is difficult come awards season, and I need to find a gown to walk down the red carpet in, and there are only size zeros and size twos available. Then it becomes downright annoying because all these designers are saying, ‘We love Mad Men, we love Christina, but we won’t make her a dress.’” Have those designers come to their senses yet?
Yes, it’s been really nice. The show has gotten more successful, and people started realizing we were winning [awards]. They’ve been incredibly generous, making really beautiful things. I guess it’s a good thing that story got printed. Someone got the message!
As a woman, I have to say the retro underwear on Mad Men actresses looks like utter torture. Am I wrong?
No, you’re not wrong. We’re so used to it now, but those undergarments really aren’t made for relaxing. If I get my entire costume on, and I have to wait a few hours for my next scene, I have to learn how to position myself, otherwise the boning presses into my guts! It can really hurt those internal organs! I have this little war wound—a blister from wearing a garter the other day for 17 hours.
There’s now a Joan Holloway Barbie. Do you like the doll?
I have only seen pictures of her so far. It’s amazing! I am such a girlie girl—such a Barbie girl. Am I weird if I want to give a bunch of them to my friends and mom and stuff? I’ll get one for everybody, and I’m sure my friends will be like, “Gee, thanks for the doll…of you.”
I put a lot of the interview up, but you should still go read the whole thing – I took out the parts where she was talking about playing the accordion, and her supporting role in Life As We Know It, which she did with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel. Christina always comes across as very grounded, and very respectful of her fans, which I love. I actually squealed a little when she talks about Mad Men – Joanie really is one of the best characters on a show full of awesome, well-written characters. And I’m really hoping Joanie’s part is a lot bigger this next season (less than a month, bitches, until it premieres!). I want Joanie and Don Draper to get together. For real.
Photos courtesy of the LAT Magazine.