January Jones 'sucks it up' for Emmy

'Mad Men' star ready to shock at upcoming ceremony

She's not just a pretty face anymore. Celebrating her first Emmy nomination for her role as Betty Draper on AMC's cultural juggernaut "Mad Men," the wildly in demand actress is filming Season 4 of the series and awaiting the release of two buzzworthy films: "The Hungry Rabbit Jumps" alongside Nicolas Cage and "Unknown White Male" co-starring Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger. Jones opens up to THR about channeling such an emotional character, her Emmy night fashion and, of course, Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty's confrontation.

The Hollywood Reporter: Congratulations! Season 3 was so intense. What was your most memorable episode?

January Jones:
I really enjoyed the episode where Betty gives birth. One of my biggest fears as an actress was to shoot a childbirth scene. I really didn't want to have to act that out. When I read it, I was like, "Oh my God!" but viewers don't ever see her giving birth. It's Betty screaming out in pain then cut to all these hallucinations and weird dream sequences. The way that episode was shot was so cool. I was surprised, because I really enjoyed filming it and watching it.
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THR: "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner holds story lines pretty close to the vest. How far in advance do you know what's in store for Betty?

Jones: Not far at all. We get a script about a day before the episode starts filming. The entire cast looks forward to reading them. It's like getting candy on Halloween. I have an idea how some story lines will go, like with Betty and Don. The way the season was playing out gave me an idea that the confrontation would happen.

Hamm has said that was one of the hardest scenes for him to shoot. How did you feel during filming?

Jones: It was very difficult. We both knew that scene represented the end of their marriage, so it was very emotional for both of us to film. I was happy that it went that way though. I would have been judgmental of Betty had she just kept that to herself, because I am very emotionally attached to her. As difficult as it was to film, I'm glad that she confronted him.

It was a very dramatic season for Betty. How do you channel those emotions?

Jones: The season began with Betty being happy, to having a baby, to her father dying and then everything with Don. It was a difficult season. I was also going through a lot personally; so going to work was a therapeutic way to release those emotions. But it can also take hours to do an emotional scene, it can be very draining.

THR: If you could step into the character of any of your fellow lead actress nominees, comedy or drama, who would it be and why?

I am a huge Edie Falco fan. "Nurse Jackie" is brilliant. After the first few episodes, I was nervous she was going to be in the drama category. I don't think I could play her nearly as well, but I would love to be a part of that show in some way. I would also like to play something on the lighter side, like Tina Fey in "30 Rock." It would be a nice change of pace; a little reprieve. I could go to work and laugh instead of cry.

THR: Most importantly, how will you be preparing for the Emmy red carpet?

Jones: I already know what I'm wearing, but I can't say. I fell in love with a dress I saw in a magazine and the designer is nice enough to loan it to me. Comfort in these dresses is not an option. As long as it looks good, I'll suck it up. I like to take risks, so I try to shock people a little bit. Not so much though.

January Jones career highlights

2003: In her breakout role as the hot sister (and maid of honor) to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) in Jesse Dylan's "American Wedding," Jones catches the attention of perpetual skirt chaser Stifler (Seann William Scott).

2003: As a flirtatious Midwestern girl in Richard Curtis' "Love Actually," Jones is the object of infatuation for a British traveler looking for love.

2006: Playing opposite fellow first-time Emmy nominee Matthew Fox in the McG film "We Are Marshall," Jones channels the modest, dutiful wife Carole Dawson.

2006: As Lou Ann Norton in Tommy Lee Jones' film "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," Jones is the young, disaffected wife of border patrolman Mike Norton (Barry Pepper).

2011: In Jaume Collet-Serra's upcoming thriller "Unknown White Male," Jones' Elizabeth Harris is unknowingly living with a man who has assumed the identity of her husband.