Christina Hendricks: No one would give a crap about me if not for ‘Mad Men’

Christina Hendricks at 'Build Series' event in Downtown, Manhattan.

Mad Men has been over for years but I still think about Joan Holloway several times a week. I’ll remember a great line and a great line-delivery from Christina Hendricks on the show, and I’ll feel that inspiration. Tat character went through so much and she came out ahead. I still love that for her. Christina is currently promoting the fourth season of Good Girls, the NBC show where she, Mae Whitman and Retta play a trio of suburban-moms who do crime. Christina chatted with the Guardian about the show, about her transition from modeling to commercials to full-time acting, and of course, about Mad Men as well. Some highlights:

On Good Girls: “It’s funny you say that, because originally, when I read the pilot script, I thought: ‘I love this, but I can’t imagine this being more than one episode.’ It felt like it finished itself.” She is unsentimental about it. Hendricks wasn’t looking for a new show – “I was happy doing films, taking my time” – but went into it with her eyes open.

On Mad Men’s cultural impact: “Men started dressing like Don Draper and Roger Sterling. Suits came back in, skinny ties came back in. It took three to four seasons and then all of a sudden people wanted us [the female stars] on magazines. We were like: ‘This is strange – we’ve been doing this for a while.’”

The focus on Christina’s body: “There certainly was a time when we were very critically acclaimed, and getting a lot of attention for our very good work and our very hard work, and everyone just wanted to ask me about my bra again. There are only two sentences to say about a bra.”

On a Mad Men writer claiming creator Matt Weiner harassed her: “My relationship with Matt was in no way toxic. I don’t discount anyone’s experience if I wasn’t there to see it, but that wasn’t my experience. Was he a perfectionist, was he tough, did he expect a lot? Yes. And he would say that in a second. We were hard on each other.”

Sexism in the industry: “Boy, do you think anyone in the entertainment industry comes out unscathed and not objectified? I don’t know one musician or one model or one actor who has escaped that. I have had moments – not on Mad Men; on other things – where people have tried to take advantage of me, use my body in a way I wasn’t comfortable with, persuade me or coerce me or professionally shame me: ‘If you took your work seriously, you would do this …’ Maybe it was my modelling background, but I knew to immediately get on the phone and go: ‘Uh oh, trouble.’ That’s where it’s very much a job. We need to talk to the producers and handle this professionally.”

Harassment isn’t limited to Hollywood: “It gets a lot of attention because people know who we are. I’m sure there’s a casting couch at the bank down the street, I’m sure the same thing happens in management consultancy, but people don’t know who the management consultants are.”

The legacy of Mad Men. “It may eclipse anything I ever did. And, if it does, it was a good one and I’m proud of it. I got to bring who I was as a woman. I think I learned some of how to be a woman from Joan. No one would give a sh-t about me if it wasn’t for that show. I’d still be doing good work, but no one would have found me. If that’s the best thing I ever do, it was pretty good.”

[From The Guardian]

I think the actors from Mad Men came away with good vibes because AMC was so supportive, they got to tell the story they wanted to tell and build their audience, and because it had such a cultural impact. Clearly, because all of those actors are still so closely identified with Mad Men. As for the questions about her bra… I mean, I had those questions too! Like, shapewear in the 1960s was no friggin’ joke!! It was a compliment to the costuming of the show that people are still like “wow I wonder what kind of bra she wore.” We’re saying it with awe.

The Rape Foundation's Annual Brunch

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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19 Responses to “Christina Hendricks: No one would give a crap about me if not for ‘Mad Men’”

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  1. Esmom says:

    Christina was brilliant as Joan in Mad Men, amid an entire cast that was stellar. I tried to watch Good Girls and could not get into it. She did a turn in The Romanoffs that was weird and good.

    As for the casting couch and experiences of women in Hollywood and other industries, I am watching The Comeback with Lisa Kudrow and holy hell does it highlight how terrible and toxic and insane the TV business is. It’s making me sad to the point where I’m not sure I can keep watching, but yet I’m pretty sure I’ll keep watching because Kudrow is so compelling.

    • tealily says:

      I loved her episode of The Romanoffs. It WAS weird and good. I think about it a lot. I wish more people had watched that show. It was so strange and compelling.

      I’ve been watching Good Girls, but I find it just okay. I recently came back to it after a hiatus and realized after about five episodes or so that I was rewatching a bunch that I’d already seen. I think the cast and the acting is great, and I love a female-centric show, but I think the writing could be better. I’ll keep watching though. It’s good, just not great.

  2. Zaza says:

    I caught parts of an episode of Good Girls last night and I was impressed with her acting. The character is nothing like Joan. I underestimated her, thought she was a one trick pony. She is definitely not! I may have to watch from the beginning.

  3. psl says:

    Mad Men was an incredible show, and I LOVED Joan. LOVED her!

  4. Lena says:

    I’m watching MadMen again, one episode before bed every night and I think I appreciate it for how the women were written more now. It maybe took awhile for everyone to appreciate them because their arcs slowly evolved over seasons while at first it was all about Don Draper. I have to say I appreciate Jon Hamm as an actor more because he’s so very different than that character, whereas I didn’t know who he was before I saw him in MM. And it will likely be the best thing any of them (including Elizabeth Moss who seems to be in everything now) ever do again but as an actor on screen your performance never goes away.

    • tealily says:

      I absolutely agree with that assessment on my rewatch too. I love that the women aren’t stereotypes, and they’re all very different. I had been thinking that the characters changed significantly as the show went on, but it’s all there in the first season. It just unfolds very slowly. Such great, rich characters. That show was a real gem.

  5. CC says:

    The only thing I have ever seen her in is Firefly and she was simply excellent.

  6. Dee Kay says:

    I loved (and, at times, hated — in a good way!) CH”s Joan in Mad Men, but I like her in Good Girls even more. She’s the clear lead in Good Girls and gets to show off more of her acting range. She really plays every dimension of this character, and gets to be kind of a female version of Walter White except I still believe that she is good not evil. And the other two female leads are also awesome, formidable actresses and comediennes. Together the three can reach really poignant depths and also hysterical heights. I like that show. And I guess, for me, Mad Men doesn’t hold up very well as the years pass — it was fantastic while it was on, but the later seasons felt far weaker than the early ones, and the ending left me pretty dissatisfied. I’m just glad it gave a whole passel of good actors real careers.

    • Christine says:

      I agree with you, completely. She just looks like she having fun, with Good Girls, like a solid belly laugh is about to burst out of her at any moment.

  7. Claire says:

    Check her out in Tin Star. Great show, and she was terrific in it.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Never really watched Mad Men. Probably should give it a go. She was in the Damian Lewis series Life (excellent and unfortunately cut short show) and was a good character. I don’t know if no one would give a crap about her. Did get a little annoyed about Michael K from Dlisted’s stories about her breasts. Christina brought more to the table than her bra size in her roles.

  8. Jamie says:

    I love that she said this, and I think it’s a great point: “I’m sure there’s a casting couch at the bank down the street, I’m sure the same thing happens in management consultancy, but people don’t know who the management consultants are”

    I know of places in town where there is a similar *style* of hiring, but you can’t really call it a ‘casting couch’ since it’s not in the entertainment field. But instead it’s framed as “you know how she got that job, right??” which places the focus on the person in the job as opposed to the creep doing the hiring.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree. People always point to the entertainment industry as the example of it, but that awful stuff is EVERYWHERE. Creeps, abusers, harassers, sexists, they’re everywhere, in every industry.

  9. Sof says:

    I think Ditachment was the only place where I saw her, she was good in it.
    I loved Mad Men, I guess that’s why I get distracted whenever I see an actress or actor from the show working on another role, it takes me a while to pay attention.

  10. candy says:

    Mad Men is still my favorite show of all time, and I re-watch it often. It came out just before the streaming era so I would eagerly await each new episode week to week. She’s a great actress and I’m glad she got such a memorable role, as I had not seen her in anything before that. My bff and I still send Joan memes back and forth.

  11. Sammiches says:

    I am salty af that good girls was cancelled. I love that show.

  12. Christine says:

    Christina Hendricks was the first actress who made me comfortable, in my own body, and I’m 46. I am tall, taller than a lot of men, and really busty. I wasn’t aware that I had a super power until Christina, but she made tall with big boobs and an even bigger brain, and personality, to boot, really empowering.

    Thank you, Christina, and I will forever give a crap about you!

  13. L4Frimaire says:

    Mad Men is still one of my favorite shows ever, and her character is so iconic.