'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner on Joan's Water-Cooler Moment: 'It Really Happened. A Lot.'
The boss discusses with THR the original plan for Christina Hendrick's character and that indecent proposal.
This story first appeared in the June 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
On the Original Plan for Joan:
"She was not at all what I expected to cast. I thought Joan would be more like an Eve Arden type, that she would just be Peggy's friend. Joan would be kind of the courtesan who is sort of inducting Peggy into this world in the pilot, and then maybe we'd see her a few other times. But Christina brought all of this power, sexuality and confidence, and I recognized this dynamic between her and Peggy. I thought, this is going to be interesting to see how this office works, especially since I had been so influenced by the books Sex and the Single Girl and The Feminine Mystique. On one hand, I was telling a kind of unconscious feminist story with Peggy, a non-self-conscious, unconscious, accidental in some way story of a human being, not just a woman trying to rise. And on the other, there was a story in Joan of someone who was ambitious in a different way with different goals. Christina brought out this confidence, and I realized this woman is not Peggy's friend, and that could be very useful to me."
On Joan's Ongoing Disappointment:
"Get a good job, have some fun, find the right man, buy a house in the country and never have to work again. That was her plan, as she says in the pilot. Of course, marrying this doctor was a very disappointing version of what she had in mind. When she finally seemed to show some enthusiasm for her work, she was denied any kind of advancement. Her husband didn't make enough money to support her, and she really had to be a parent rather than a partner to him. But then the triumph of her being needed for the new agency -- the firm needed her and the audience needed her -- I knew that that would mean something for her to come back. At the same time, she still has this marriage, and now her husband has made another choice. So seeing her constantly being disappointed or hit with the reality of the consequences of her values has been fascinating to me."
On Joan and Don Draper's Sexual Tension:
"I would say that I never want the audience to know what's going to happen, but I don't just do things to confound them. Believe me, it's been thought about. They are flirting. They are turned on by each other. But Don is in a different place, and so is she. Don's in a place of mourning because he had it all as far as he was concerned. His wife was working with him every day and had to basically do what he said, and the fact that Megan didn't want to do what he did -- I think that he's kind of a little bit heartbroken. I don't think he's really in the mood to be with somebody else [during the Christmastime scene with Joan at the bar]. So I never really thought that that would possibly happen in that scenario, but has he thought about it? Has she thought about it? Absolutely. Those are two people who I think are very similar. I think they're kind of the most similar to each other in terms of their carnal desires. There's a kind of deep connection to self-confidence and self-worth that comes from sex that both of these people have. Of course, it's very untraditional for us to even think that a woman could be like that, but that's one of the things I think people love about Joan."
On Joan Accpeting the Indecent Proposal:
"Honestly, a lot of what happens in the show is derived from what I would call my own personal social-history project -- that I'm lucky enough to have people tell me about their lives. This scenario was something that came up so many times that I kept thinking, "Well, we're going to have to do it eventually." So while I love that people think that Joan wouldn't do that, all I can tell you is it really happened. A lot. And it was as simple as, "He really likes you!" The part that's probably false is the partnership part. Most of them just got a car or cash or an apartment, sometimes a promotion. Those are the stories I've heard. So for me, the fact that it was Joan is because there is a Joan in a lot of these agencies, and there still is -- this very attractive woman who is in charge of making the medicine go down a little easier. Honestly, I think that if I had not mentioned the word "prostitution" in the episode, I don't even know if the audience would have really realized that that's what it was. It's more complicated than trading sex for money because it's really about this woman getting into a position of power."