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Elisabeth Moss of 'Mad Men' on 'The Suitcase' and The Transformation of Peggy Olson

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 16th 2010 4:04PM
Elisabeth MossYesterday brought a bit of an unexpected but pleasant surprise: an opportunity to speak to Elisabeth Moss, who was doing interviews to promote the DVD release of 'Get Him to the Greek,' which comes out on Sept. 28. Check out a clip of Moss talking about her audition here!

But, this being TV Squad, my concentration was on that other thing Moss is known for, namely her Emmy-nominated role on 'Mad Men.' The fourth season has been a big year for Moss and her character Peggy Olson; Peggy is growing up before our eyes, asserting herself as a woman and a professional in the 1960s workplace. And she held her own opposite Jon Hamm in the pivotal episode 'The Suitcase' two weeks ago, where Don and Peggy spend a night together exploring their friendship and themselves at the same time.

During our brief talk, I asked Moss about that episode, about what her perspective has been on what Peggy's going through this season, and how many times she and Hamm had to cry while shooting 'The Suitcase.'

This season has been an interesting one for you as far as the development of Peggy is concerned. Did (creator) Matt Weiner come to you at the beginning of the season and say "There's going to be a lot more Peggy this year?" What was his speech to you before the season started?
Of course we talk about things, but that's sort of between the two of us. They don't often know what's going to happen from episode to episode and they don't have it written yet. I think there's a huge hesitation to tell actors "what's going to happen" because of all the changes. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that something was going to happen with either my character or another character and then it didn't happen.

So I think there's a big hesitation in telling us what's going to go down because you don't want to disappoint someone or you don't want to mislead someone. (Matt's) told me things obviously in the past before it's happened, and he usually asks me if I want to know first, and you always have to take it with a huge, huge grain of salt.

As you're seeing the scripts, that's how you're seeing what's developing week to week?
Yeah, exactly. We each get that script and you should see it. If that script goes around, everyone sort of disappears and reads their script, because everyone is so interested in where their characters go and where the other characters go because nobody knows (chuckles).

Let's talk about an episode that every fan is still talking about, 'The Suitcase.' When you read the script, how did you see it from your perspective?
I think my first reaction was... I honestly feel, and I said this to Matt, I feel honored and flattered that he wrote that script. And I have so much admiration and respect for Jon (Hamm) as an actor, and the thought that Matt thought that I could hold my own with him for that long... And, also, you know, although this show is known for its writing, it's also known for its acting. That they thought that out of all these incredible actors that are on the show -- I mean everybody is so good and everybody has had amazing opportunities on the show -- the fact that Matt thought I could do this was so incredibly flattering.

I'm a viewer as well of this show, and I'm a fan. So as a fan, I was like, "Awesome!" (Episodes like this) are actually called bottle episodes, and I love bottle episodes, and I just thought as a fan, of course! This is so cool, that after six years in TV world, its so awesome to see these two characters... to finally, after everything that's happened, after everything they know about each other, and everything they don't know about each other, for them to come together like this, as a viewer, I was like "That's an awesome episode." (laughs)

What did that episode show you about the relationship Matt had set up between the two of them?
It didn't really reveal anything new to me, and it possibly didn't really reveal... I think it just confirmed and elaborated and showed to the audience this relationship that they know. Everybody knows the relationship that they have, everybody knows that they're close, that they have this sort of "they're so different but yet so similar" kind of relationship, and I think people just wanted to see that, wanted to see them talk about it. They wanted to see them talk about that goddamn hospital scene, and talk about the baby... (laughs).

Both you and Jon had to break out in tears in that episode. How many times did you have to do that during shooting?
I don't remember how many times they did it. Maybe five times or something? I don't remember, to be honest. They're very long shooting days (laughs). It all blends together.

To me it seems like Peggy has morphed from even the year before. What's your perspective on what Peggy's been going through this season?
I think she has gone from being 20 years old to being 26. I know I've changed a lot from 20 to 26, and I think people, I think that's an incredibly formative time, your 20s. And being in your 20s in the '60s, in Manhattan, in advertising, it's a multilayered recipe for change. And people forget how young she is, because everyone looks older on the show, but she's actually only 26, and she is finally figuring out who she is.

She's not trying to be somebody else, not trying to be a man, not trying to be a woman, but trying to be who she is. And I don't think she's quite there yet, but she's on her way. I think the biggest change for her character-wise came between seasons three and four.

(Follow @joelkeller on Twitter.)

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LOVED the strength, yet vulerability shown during the firing scene.

Had it been me, I would have demanded that I not have to give the ass another chance.

But then again, my grandmother set the national precident that made sexual discrimination illegal, sooo...

September 19 2010 at 4:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pat L.

And you look so much older than your 28 years, gee I wonder why. ( Fred you're a jerk )

September 17 2010 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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