Everyone knows Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris, the bombshell secretary who may be the true face of Mad Men (yes, even more so than Jon Hamm). But in Nicolas Winding Refn’s crime thriller Drive, Hendricks plays Blanche, a curvy con artist, a genuine femme fatale, opposite Ryan Gosling. Upbeat and giddy when she talked to the Press, the flirty redhead was happy to chat about anything and everything…except, of course, the long-awaited new season of her TV series.
1. You’re wild in Drive, especially the way you take Ryan Gosling slugging you in stride. And, you know, other gruesome happenings. Ha! First of all, thank you. It’s a real explosive moment. And I know how my mom’s gonna react! But I think it’s a really great scene, because it’s the first moment you see any violence in the movie. Everything is going at this certain pace, and then all of a sudden, there’s this dramatic sort of situation. And of course then, it unwinds into what the rest of the film is. Those scenes were intense, and felt very real. And Ryan and I had just met, so it wasn’t like we had any connection. We were in this creepy little hotel room, where it was a hundred degrees, and he had this gloved hand on my face, and I’m being pushed on to this bed… So yeah, the fear felt very real.
2. So Ryan was really a stranger to you? Exactly. But a very sexy stranger. And when I heard who was in this cast I thought “Ooh, what a cool cast.” Carrie Mulligan. And Albert Brooks too. They’re all amazing. I think we’re all playing opposite how you see us on TV. And Nicolas [Winding Refn ]… was incredibly collaborative and artistic with us. It was a really warm environment.
3. After Mad Men, was it hard to play contemporary in Drive? Nah. Obviously I’m me, as soon as I leave the Mad Men set. It’s actually very helpful [as an actor] to go on the set and wear those clothes, and get your hair done in the ’60s [style] and be surrounded by that ’60s environment. But you know, we had almost an entire year off from Mad Men this year, which was really strange. So it was harder to go back and get back into the ’60s mode, because there was such a long break. But every year we go back, we’re really nervous the first day. And the first scene starts out a little shaky. And then you sort of feel yourself drop back into the character.
4. Which one is more suited to your lifestyle, movies or television? Well, Mad Men shoots at home. So I do have a parking spot! And I’m in my hometown, so there’s a certain comfort in that. And I work with the same people year after year, so they’re my family. And with the movies, this is completely different. Because you sort of get to go on this adventure. And it doesn’t take as long. So it’s kinda this fun, whirlwind thing to do.
5. Do you see yourself being typecast? I only play secretaries now! No, I don’t think so. First of all, I think Joan [Harris] is really a one-of-a kind role. I don’t think you see roles like that all the time. But certainly my role in Drive is entirely different, and my role in I Don’t Know How She Does It is completely different from both of them. I think people who watch Mad Men know it’s a quality project, and know that we’re actors who have a larger range than just what they see on TV.
6. Do you ever make your own decisions about Joan? There have been a couple of moments. Like where I’ll say, “Don’t put my hair up.” And the one thing we wanted to do with Blanche in Drive is that she would have this sort of bad dyed hair, so it’s like a little too pink, and a little too purple and red. We just wanted it to look a little like maybe she did it herself and didn’t spend a lot of money on it. But I just wanted to be true to the character.
7. What’s up for the next Mad Men season? I can’t say anything. It’s so under lock and key. But I can tell you that there will be some surprises. Immediately. And it’s good. Trust me!