christina hendricks on joan’s epic moral moment
On May 30, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks on Joan’s Epic Moral Moment
BY Gwynne Watkins
On Sunday night, Mad Men’s Joan Harris did something unthinkable, and the phrase “indecent proposal” returned to the popular lexicon for the first time since 1993. Prior to the episode’s debut, the title (“The Other Woman”) had fans fervently speculating that Joan and Don Draper might consummate their Christmastime flirtation. Instead, a much darker transgression took place. “What price would we pay, what behavior would we forgive, if they weren’t pretty, if they weren’t temperamental, if they weren’t beyond our reach and a little out of our control?” Don purred at the Jaguar meeting, as Joan relinquished control—the thing she has always prided herself on maintaining—to the least deserving man on the planet, for a once-in-a-lifetime payoff. The emotionally wrenching episode was the best so far this season, and a tour de force for actress Christina Hendricks (whose hourglass beauty gets more press than her considerable acting chops). In an exclusive conversation with GQ, Hendricks walks us through Joan’s fateful decision, reveals why Joan hasn’t hooked up with Don, and explains why kicking that no-good Greg to the curb was so satisfying.
Christina Hendricks: It was a crazy episode the other day.
GQ: Yes it was! So tell me your reaction to first learning about that storyline. I’d imagine it’s the kind of thing that could make a person nervous.
Christina Hendricks: [Laughs] Honestly, Matt [Weiner] had told me about that storyline, I think it was either last season or the season before. He’d had it in his mind, and was planning on using it before, but the development of the characters just didn’t get to that point. So I’d had some knowledge of it for quite some time. Yeah, it makes you nervous! ‘Cause you think, well, how are people going to respond to Joan doing this? But I think Matt’s writing and the way it was done shows what people will do out of necessity and for survival. I thought it was beautifully written.
GQ: Yes. Although the episode was extremely hard to watch, I didn’t feel like the show itself was exploiting Joan; she was an active player in the events.
Christina Hendricks: You know, there’s a moment where Pete is pitching this idea, and he says, “Haven’t we all done something, made a mistake one night for free?” All the men in this office have done sort of off-color things, and acted in ways that we’ve all hissed at throughout the entire series. She acted like one of the guys, to a certain extent. And she’s a single mother. When Lane comes in [with the $50,000 offer] and she says, “It’s four times as much as I make in the entire year”—are you kidding me? How moral are we all? How much can it help my family, and how much can it help my son? And once it’s done, it’s done; it never has to be spoken about again. But it’s a terrible price to pay