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Rosemarie DeWitt plays Midge, Don Draper’s bohemian mistress. In an AMCtv.com interview, the granddaughter of boxing champ James Braddock (a.k.a. Cinderella Man) discusses what makes her character unique.
Q: Matt Weiner says you pulled off Midge’s air of independence and sexual openness without making her seem like a prostitute. What’s your secret?
A: I don’t know actually. It’s a nice compliment from Matt. I think maybe I just didn’t see her need for Don or her sexuality as anything that seemed inappropriate. In her world, it was just like another expression of herself. And I think she really liked Don. That’s why I don’t think it came across as slutty and didn’t cross over into any kind of prostitute realm.
Q: With her clothes and her friends and her sexual openness, do you think Midge is a person who could fit in today?
A: Matt had suggested I read this book, it’s called Memoirs of a Beatnik. It was one of the only pieces of early beatnik literature written by a woman. In a weird way, the author and a lot of the people in her story seemed a lot more modern than even we are today. We think we’re so contemporary, but I think there was a backlash after the ’60s and then we got puritanical again about sex and expression. Maybe it was just a time where I think people were opening up more to humanity — not worried about labels and stereotypes and societal norms. Midge is trying to embrace it.
Q: How is Mad Men different from other roles you’ve done?
A: It was definitely a great, safe environment in which to work because Matt has such a vision for the show. Especially in TV, I think it’s so comforting to go to work and know that somebody knows what it is because there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen in TV. But one of the things I’ve really admired about this whole process is that he knew who all these characters were. We didn’t, but it didn’t matter because he was creating this world and it was so rich and full. You put the costumes on and you walked on the set and the writing’s so strong and so beautiful that you just knew that it was going to work.
Q: You did the commentary for “Ladies Room” on the show’s DVD. Have you ever done DVD commentary before?
A: No, and it was fun. Me, personally, I always find it hard to talk about the stuff after you do it. It’s easier for me to actually just go do it. It was interesting and I’m sure it was purposeful to put January (Jones) and me in the commentary together, but it was strange because we hadn’t worked together. We’ve never acted together on the show, so it felt very polite, as it would be if these two women came into contact. If I were doing it with Jon (Hamm), we could joke about whatever was challenging to shoot that day.