Fresh from her sixth Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Mad Men, Christina Hendricks took time Monday night at the Screen Actors Guild Foundation and Backstage “Conversations” series to reflect on the evolution of her character, Joan Holloway-Harris, throughout the show’s seven-season run. “She wasn’t really described to me,” she explained to the packed crowd at the NYIT Auditorium, regarding her initial picture of Joan. “I mean, she was on the page and I auditioned with the material that was in the pilot. So I just tried to take all the clues that I saw in the script and I thought, Okay, this is a woman who thinks she knows everything, this is a woman who’s a bit bossy, this is a woman that seems to have confidence and freedom of her sexuality. That’s what I had.” Despite Hendricks only having a relatively small amount of screen time in the pilot — walking the new Sterling Cooper doe-eyed secretary Peggy Olson around the office — she believes that in those moments she set the tone for how Joan would evolve. “I had to sort of create who she was in those two scenes, and that’s who she became,” she said. “It all went from there.”
As for Hendricks herself, were there any particular qualities of Joan that she started to see within herself over time? “I would say probably Joan is more like Christina in the end than in the beginning. But then again, she was a real bitch in the beginning," she laughed, "so I’m not going to say that."