Interview: 'Mad Men' star Elisabeth Moss discusses Peggy's return and lying to reporters
Also, we discuss why Peggy-Don 'shipping is just plain wrong
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Across the six interviews I did with various stars of AMC's "Mad Men," I don't know if a single actual plot-point was spoiled. Matthew Weiner runs a tight ship.
The sixth interview probably could, in some hyper-sensitive circles, be considered a spoiler merely by the actor in question.
Yes, Elisabeth Moss is going to be back on "Mad Men" this season. I'm sorry if Peggy's presence in last season's finale didn't give that away, or if that fact was also unspoiled despite Moss featuring in both promotional images and trailers for the new season.
Elisabeth Moss and Peggy, Don Draper's favorite protegee, will be back on "Mad Men" this season.
Of course, you may have been fooled last spring when Peggy took a new job offer and abandoned Don and then Moss gave a number of interviews saying that she didn't know what was next for Peggy and that her fate was in Weiner's hands.
In this interview, Moss admits to perhaps a wee bit of lying last spring and discusses how Weiner told her about what was coming next for Peggy. We talked about the "Mad Men" culture of secret keeping and then we had a long back and forth about why it's strange people have to keep asking if Don and Peggy are eventually going to hook up.
Click through for the full conversation
HitFix: So, you gonna be on "Mad Men" this season?
Elisabeth Moss: Yes I am! Yay! [She claps her hands.]
HitFix: Well, we have to ask, I suppose. But, you know, here you are at this junket.
Elisabeth Moss: I know, right? How funny is that? Although I was saying before that maybe this is just a red herring and I'm not on the show and this is a massive trick.
HitFix: Well I've seen the premiere, so I actually know.
Elisabeth Moss: OK, you know!
HitFix: So last spring when you had to give all of those coy interviews you gave...
Elisabeth Moss: Like I'm doing this year.
HitFix: But you had to do all of those interviews where you were like, "Oh, I don't KNOW if Peggy's coming back next you, it's all up to Matt"...
Elisabeth Moss: Right!
HitFix: How much did you know and how much didn't you know?
Elisabeth Moss: I knew I was coming back. Not to paint myself as a complete liar, but I was lying to all of you, to your faces. I mean, I had to. I wasn't given permission to say that I was coming back, so it was part of keeping the secrecy of the show and part of keeping the mystery of it as well. But it was nice that Matt finally came out and said, "Yes, she is coming back," because it made my life a little bit easier. But yeah, it was weird. And I remember being like, "At some point people are going to see me shooting LA in '60s clothing. Aren't they going to be like 'What is she doing?'"
HitFix: So how did Matt tell you what was happening with Peggy last season and how did he reassure you that it would be OK for you?
Elisabeth Moss: I was at home and he called me. We talk a lot over the phone, but he called me and he was like, "I want to tell you about the next script" and I was like, "OK..." He told me and the first thought that I had was, "Am I coming back?" and I asked him, I was like, "It sounds really great, but am I coming back? Am I still on the show?" He was like, "Yes! Of course!" He was a little bit annoyed. He was like, "Why would you ask me that? Of course you're coming back." And I was like, "Well it's a logical question! You kill off Jared Harris and apparently it's anyone's game. Who knows?" So I was very happy to hear that I was, in fact, coming back though. But then I thought that it was a really great idea and I thought it was a great storyline and it was the only place she could go. What was she supposed to do? Just keep repeating and keep having the same problems? She had to break out.
HitFix: And I felt like, theoretically, that could have been the end of Peggy's arc on the series.
Elisabeth Moss: Absolutely.
HitFix: She reached that point and off she went.
Elisabeth Moss: Absolutely. If I hadn't closed my deal, that might have been how it happened. That was an easy out.
HitFix: But it's a relief to see that Peggy's a regular part of the show this season. It feels like she's roughly as much a part of things as she's always been, just in a different context. Does it feel like that to you?
Elisabeth Moss: I kinda wasn't sure how much I was gonna be on the show, what my visibility was going to be and how that was going to work and without saying what happens, I definitely feel really happy with it and kinda pleasantly surprised.
HitFix: Pleasantly surprised by what?
Elisabeth Moss: By what I've had to do and the storylines that I've had and where she's going as a character. It's been really, really cool and there've been some surprises this year, for sure. There's definitely been some moments where my own jaw has kinda dropped reading these scripts.
HitFix: I've talked to a few of your co-stars and it seems like there are different variations on how much information people get and when they get it.
Elisabeth Moss: Really?
HitFix: January was saying that she just doesn't find out anything til she gets the script. But it sounded like Christina, at least in previous years, had been hearing more things in advance. It feels like there are different levels of communication. Where do you fit in on that? How much do you know at any given time?
Elisabeth Moss: It's kinda a mix, because sometimes Matt will tell me things quite early on, whether it's my character or another character or a storyline thing. I have a really close relationship with him, so we talk about stuff that's gonna happen in the season. But then again, at the same time, then there's MAJOR s*** like Peggy leaving or Lane committing suicide or something that I just read in a script for this season that he doesn't tell you. It's funny, because he tricks you. He tells you all this stuff and you're like, "Oh, I know everything" and then something happens and you're like, "You didn't tell me THAT! That's the most important part!"
HitFix: Who seems to know the most? Who's the most in-the-know?
Elisabeth Moss: [Giggles.] That would probably be me.
HitFix: How come? Why are you so special?
Elisabeth Moss: I don't know! I think I keep good secrets. I mean, obviously having lied to every member of the press last year...
HitFix: You totally had me convinced.
Elisabeth Moss: Right? Exactly! I'm a very good actor. I think I can keep a secret. I respect the show so much that I would never, ever say anything that that I wasn't supposed to and ruin it for the audience. Matt knows that. People knows that.
HitFix: So you've just cultivated a reputation as being the trustworthy one?
Elisabeth Moss: Yeah. I've got all the secrets. I've got the key to the vault.
HitFix: Who blabs?
Elisabeth Moss: Who blabs? No one, actually. We're all really good about it. We'll talk to each other about stuff if we hear things, just chit-chat about what's happening or what's gonna happen, just speculation. We're so lame. We just sit around and talk about the show. It's so pathetic. We literally speculate on what's gonna happen. Like, "Do you think that blah-blah-blah?" "Do you think that so-and-so?" We talk about it, which is just completely pathetic. But there's not really a blabber. They wouldn't be on the show anymore.
HitFix: So you're saying Jared Harris must have been the biggest blabber?
Elisabeth Moss: Yeah! Jared Harris. [She laughs.] Biggest mouth in town.
HitFix: OK. So I was reading an interview you gave the other day.
Elisabeth Moss: [Clearly bracing herself.] Yeah?
HitFix: Why do people still want to ask if Peggy and Don are going to get together?
Elisabeth Moss: [Sighs deeply and and makes a "That's what I want to know" gesture.]
HitFix: Like I wouldn't wish Don on Peggy.
Elisabeth Moss: Thank you!
HitFix: And I don't really know if I would wish Peggy on Don.
Elisabeth Moss: Thank you! Exactly. I totally agree. And it's been a question from the very beginning and I think the thing is that on any other show, they would have slept together in the first season. And you've seen other shows where that's happened. Not naming names, but it does happen. And I think that their relationship is so special and so unique. And you obviously feel the same way. I think that would totally f*** it up, that it would completely change the dynamic. She would just become one of the many. I think that that is one of the reasons why he has so much respect for her is that she doesn't do that. Even in the pilot, she puts her hand on his, because she thinks that's what she's supposed to do and how she's supposed to act and he takes it off and is like, "No." I think people just... You know, it's a great friendship and it's a great relationship. I would do the same thing if I was watching the show. I really would. I totally would feel the same way. I'd be like, "When are they gonna sleep together?"
HitFix: But I think if they ever actually did, my first reaction would be "EW!"
Elisabeth Moss: Exactly. Totally. People would not like it. People would totally not like it. I think the only way... No, I'm not gonna say the only way that you could do it...
HitFix: Well now I'm almost curious.
Elisabeth Moss: I know, I know. It's jumping the shark. You can't do it.
HitFix: I think you'd need three or four seasons to properly justify the transition in the relationship.
Elisabeth Moss: Exactly. I think it diminishes it and it trivializes it. Then she just becomes one of the many women that he's slept with and she shouldn't be that. Also, it's weird. It's kinda like an older brother/younger sister relationship.
HitFix: Or almost father-daughter, really...
Elisabeth Moss: So let's just keep it there.
HitFix: Also, he's got issues at this point.
Elisabeth Moss: Yeah! I would not want that to happen. That would not be good.
HitFix: It's just strange to me that people need to keep asking about it. Then again, I don't get people pushing for a Don-Joan relationship either.
Elisabeth Moss: Right. That would make a little more sense to me, I guess. But the same thing, though: It would diminish her as a woman, it would trivialize their relationship and it would make you have less respect for Joan. I could see that happening in the real world. I can kinda see that they probably would have slept together. But it's so much more interesting the way that it is. So much more interesting.
HitFix: Just to change gears for a last question. Peggy's always been Don's mentee. But off on her own now, it doesn't seem like she's exactly become a Little Don or Don Jr. How would you describe the person that Peggy has become in business as we start this season?
Elisabeth Moss: I think that's what she's trying to figure out, because she is a mentee and I think that he's been the only example of a boss to her and we all know a little bit about his management style and it's not really the best. So I think that's what she's trying to figure out: Should she be like him? Should she manage like him? That's all she's ever seen, yelling at people and being mean. I think it's going to be interesting to watch her hopefully figure out how to be her own boss, her own version of a boss, Peggy as a boss. I think that Don would be disappointed in her if she turned out like him. Do you know what I mean? What he sees in her is her heart and her positivity and her sensitivity. That's what makes her Peggy and I think if she was to become him, A) Should would never be able to do it and never manage to get there, because she's not Don and B) I think that it would ultimately not be what Don would want from her.
"Mad Men" returns to AMC on Sunday, April 7.
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