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Neve Campbell on Her Surprise Mad Men Role, Matthew Weiner’s ‘Super Secrecy Speech,’ and Snuggling With Don Draper

Like Linda Cardellini last year, Neve Campbell wasn’t allowed to celebrate being cast as a woman who tempts Don Draper, as she did on last night’s season-seven premiere epiosde of Mad Men. A beautiful widow with a sad story, her character tells Don, “This is nice,” as the two fall asleep next to each other on board their flight from Los Angeles to New York. Don ultimately passes on her offer to make him feel better, but when asked about the casting of the Party of Five and Scream star, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner told Vulture, with a smile, “You had to know what Don was giving up.” Finally allowed to break her silence following Sunday’s final-season premiere, Campbell talked to us about having to keep her snuggle time with Jon Hamm quiet — and kinda sorta left us with the impression that she’ll be back before it all ends.

How’d you wind up flirting with Don Draper?
[Laughs] I auditioned. I was sent some scenes, and I went in and auditioned for Matt Weiner. I was excited to do it, too, because I had heard he was very creative in the room and really gave good direction.

How’d it go?
It was my first time meeting him and it went really well. Often when you go into auditions, you don’t get a whole lot of direction, but Matt is really specific about, well, everything, which is I think why the show is so wonderful. He’s almost obsessive about how to make things right and get his vision exactly. He was very clear about the character and what he wanted from her and who she was.

What did he tell you about her?
He talked a lot about the tone of the show and the tone of that time, and the concept of her as a widow. That she’s someone who had lost someone but is also very strong and trying to pull herself out of a hard time. It says a lot for that writing team that they can give you a fully realized character in a few scenes right in the beginning. Also, the styling on the show is impeccable, and Matt is actually a big part of that. At one point I had said, “Can we possibly try a different style from the same period?” and they were like, “Nope, this is the article we got from the newspaper that Matt chose — and that’s how it goes.” He even chooses the hair and makeup for the extras. They do tests on all of them.

Physically, she — or rather, you — is very much Don’s type.
Yeah, that was the idea — for this particular episode, anyway — that she would represent a challenge for him, and a possible change for him.

And he does resist.
It’s funny, I just did an interview and the person went, “Are you insulted that there are probably only two or three characters in the six seasons that Don hasn’t slept with?” Yeah, thanks very much for pointing that out!

He’s trying to be better.
Exactly. I could have gotten Don if I wanted!

Did you always know Don was going to decline her offer?
When I got the job, I wasn’t aware that nothing happened at the end of the episode. I hadn’t seen the last scene yet. And I don’t know that I was surprised. I probably should have been surprised?

Well, you both got pretty intimate, sharing about your marriages. You also just looked so cozy together.
I know, I know. I wish I could fly on planes from way back when, when you practically had a bedroom. It was a very comfy sequence to shoot.

Did you ever really doze off?  
No. It’s hard to doze off when you have 60 people around you, and they’re trying to tweak your hair and makeup and microphone. We shot for an afternoon for that episode. Jon’s wonderful, and so talented, and lives and breathes that role so you feel like you’re really in it.

What did you guys talk about between takes?
He actually told me that we met about 20 years ago, but I didn’t remember [laughs]. He said he was doing a short film with an old friend of mine. I’m not sure we figured it out. He didn’t remember which project it was, but insists that we met.

Have you seen the video that surfaced of him getting rejected on a dating show?
Really? He lost?

He was eliminated first. It was a long time ago. He had floppy hair.
I love that. That’s brilliant. I’m looking it up.

Does your character pop back up later on?
I’m not supposed to talk about that. Literally, I was told on my first day in the hair and makeup trailer, “Oh, Matt’s coming down to give you the Super Secrecy Speech.” “Okaaaay, what’s that?” “You’ll see.” And then I got the speech.

How does the speech go?
He’s obviously said it a million times so it goes quick. He just talks about wanting to keep the show a surprise so it can continue to be exciting for audiences, and not to give anything away, and that you’ll get in a lot of trouble if you do. And then you sign a waiver saying you won’t talk about it. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone I did the show.

My guess is that we’ll see you again, based on absolutely nothing except that your character has a full name in the credits — Lee Cabot — that we never heard in the episode.
Yeah ... Maybe ...

It’s just that if Lee comes back, I wonder what that means for Megan. It might mean nothing! But there is the whole Megan-is–Sharon Tate theory. What do you think about that? Aspiring actress, now living alone in the Hollywood Hills …
Uh, gosh, I couldn’t tell you, to be honest. I don’t know. I can’t answer that question.

Okay, switching gears: MTV’s rebooting Scream as a TV series. Wes Craven is directing the pilot. Are you involved with that?
No. To be honest, when we did the fourth movie, there was talk of it being the beginning of another trilogy but, I don’t know, I feel like there was only so far we could go with it. I think probably finishing it there and going on to a TV show was probably the smart move.

Photo: David Livingston/Getty