'Mad Men' Star Jessica Pare Examines Megan, Manson References and Fighting in French

"Speaking as a woman and an actress, there are a lot of dudes like that out there," she says of her awkward onscreen encounter with Harry Crane.
Justina Mintz/AMC
'Mad Men'

Dante may not have mentioned a circle of hell exclusively reserved for Mad Men cast and crew who don't abide by the series' strict secrecy requirements, but that doesn't mean one doesn't exist. So don't expect an official verdict on whether Sunday's episode, "New Business," was indeed the last for Jessica Pare's Megan Draper — even though it had all the makings of a swan song.

Spoilers ahead for anybody who has yet to watch.

Offscreen for the midseason premiere and in the midst of a divorce, Megan returned to finally end things with Don (Jon Hamm), bicker with her French-Canadian family and be on the receiving end of one of the most cringeworthy sexual propositions in Mad Men history (courtesy of Harry Crane). Her last scene, accepting a $1 million settlement from her melancholy ex, intimated closure more than anything else in these final episodes thus far. Naturally, Pare won't say whether or not she'll be seen again. But the actress did hop on the phone with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss wrapping up Megan's storyline.


Congratulations on the baby boy! You ended up giving birth just a few days before the premiere party.

I spoke with Matt [Weiner] about the [publicity] week in New York and then the premiere, and I was still trying to go. I thought that if it was a few days before I had the baby, no problem. But the baby came early. So I missed out. I was sort of jealous about everyone being there, but he's pretty cool. It's the best possible reason to miss it.

After more or less telling Megan to sleep with him, Harry Crane [Rich Sommer] may now officially be the most disgusting character on Mad Men. Let's discuss.

 

Isn't it the best? I always forget the little pieces and how many times Megan has said she didn't like him or subtly put him down. It's so funny to think back on all of those moments after that scene. The thing is, speaking as a woman and an actress, there are a lot of dudes like that out there. It's nice that one of them was immortalized.

That blue dress looked familiar.

It's the same one I wore in the season-seven premiere, getting out of the car. We brought it back because it's probably something she wears to get confidence. She enjoys wearing stuff that's of the time. And I'd also say that there's an echo of the "Zou Bisou Bisou" dress. It's got a similar hemline and sleeve, for sure. It's a nice through line. And, having had a baby, I thought, "Wow, I look so slender."


Meredith [Stephanie Drake] made a funny comment about the "Manson brothers," an apparent nod to the lingering theory that Megan was going to be part of the 1969 Manson Family murders. Can we officially consider her safe?

Well, obviously, I still can't say anything. (Laughs.)

The scenes between you, Julia Ormond and Kim Bubbs kept going in and out of French. Being bilingual, how easy is that for you?

Kim is a Quebecer, like me, so it was really fun to have her there. And Julia is just so spectacular in this episode. I forgot a lot of it, it being a year ago, but I was laughing my ass off at Julia on the phone with Stephanie. Going back and forth to French is very natural to me. My mother is actually visiting right now, and that's the way we talk at home. It's especially fun to do it onscreen because it's not too often that you get the option.

How much of Megan's anger with Don do you think is over their marriage ending versus her career taking a hit because of the choices she made for her marriage?

A bit of both, I'd say. When we last saw Megan and Don, there was a lot of love. They were finally acknowledging their relationship was over, something everyone around them seemed to know for months. They were coming to the acceptance of it. Now some time has gone by, and there's a lot of bitterness and anger. It changes things. He is a liar, and he did lie to her. When Harry said quitting her soap to go to L.A. was a stupid move, Don was the one who convinced her to do that. It's on every level. She was young and naive, she believed him. That's not a crime if your trust is well-placed.

Do you think she'd be any less angry if she saw how mopey he's been?

Can she do anything right? Everyone is mad at Megan for not seeing it earlier. (Laughs.) I feel like now she's allowed to not be empathic. She's been empathic for so long and given him the benefit of the doubt in so many ways. Whatever...$1 million is a nice thing to walk away from that relationship with.

And that would be $6.1 million today.

Right? I wouldn't be mad at $1 million today, let alone 1970.


What are you going to miss most about Megan?

We've had a lot of time since we wrapped, but I like that she was open. I think this experience changed her, but I like that she's very positive, very optimistic. She's eager to experience what life has to offer her. It's a different kind of character. Certainly in the context of the show there's a lot of cynicism, a lot of pessimism and narcissistic behavior in so many of the characters. She's kind of a light in a darker landscape. I'll miss that. I'll miss everything about it. It's hard to watch it now, knowing that it's over for us. I've certainly shed a few tears watching these two episodes we've seen.

This is a time of a lot of transition for you...what do you want to do next?

I love the collaborative aspect of film and TV. I've been so lucky to have this experience, but I think I'm going to start with getting the baby to sleep through the night — and then we'll look for the next thing. My reality is so grounded in the three-hour chunks between feeding the baby. It's quite nice, and I think it's a good place to be.

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