"The show is titled 'Mad Men,' but without these women, the guys would be just a bunch of desperate masturbators in great suits."
So said Holly Hunter, introducing the lead actresses of the acclaimed AMC drama last week at the nonprofit Women in Film awards. And, really, it's hard to argue. While the show's men, most notably, the self-loathing Don Draper, keep repeating sins from the past, the women have evolved and adapted through the show's six seasons. Remember the pilot episode in which Joan takes Peggy on a tour of the office and advises her to "take a paper bag, cut eye holes out of it, put it over your head, get undressed then look at yourself in the mirror"? Now Joan's a partner in the firm (albeit, at a cost) and Peggy has advanced from secretary to a sought-after copy writing chief, her shyness (and bangs) but a distant memory.
"Now if those two are talking, it's about business, and how to get it," says Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy on the series.
We met Moss and the show's other female leads — January Jones, Jessica Pare, Kiernan Shipka and, by speaker phone from Detroit (where's she filming a movie), Christina Hendricks — along with "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner shortly before last week's Women in Film evening to talk about the changing times as the series heads toward its climactic seventh season. Wine was poured, rumors were dispelled and there was even a kind word or two about Don. ("He's not that bad," Moss offered. "He's just having a serious crisis.") Here are excerpts from the conversation:
With all the rumors, do we need to keep our fingers crossed for the continued good health of everyone here?
Weiner: I don't want to spoil anything for people, but after Lane …
Moss: They're barking up the wrong tree.
Weiner: It's just not part of the show. No one's going to die.
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Pare: Thank God!
Weiner: This season. I didn't say never! (Laughs)
Moss: He changes his mind all the time.
Pare: Well, we have finished shooting.
Hendricks: Wait … is there some rumor that Megan's going to kill herself?
Weiner: The T-shirt she was wearing on the balcony at the end of episode nine was a T-shirt Sharon Tate wore, so everyone's convinced that this is some secret clue that Megan's going to be murdered or die or end up in Los Angeles in a house in the hills.
Hendricks: I had no idea this intrigue was going on. I love it!
Just google Sharon Tate and Megan Draper …
Hendricks: You bet I am!
Moss: (Laughs) She's googling it right now.
Weiner: And then because Sally was reading "Rosemary's Baby" too, they thought that was some kind of clue.