Peyton List joined Mad Men in Season 2 as Jane Siegel, Don’s new secretary — and the woman Roger Sterling leaves his wife for. She talks to AMCtv.com about how long it takes to get Jane’s hair just right and how hard it was not to laugh when Freddy Rumsen played Mozart on his zipper.
Q: What was your audition like?
A: I hadn’t seen the show before. I’d seen advertisements and heard people talking about it quite a bit, but I didn’t really know too much about the early 1960s, that transition era between the 1950s and the late 1960s. I knew I wanted to go in and be dressed up to create a sense of that era, but I dressed up in what the feedback said was a debutante dress. But it was really fun — I went in and tried to pretend I was in that era.
Q: What do you think of clothes of that time?
A: I really, really liked them. I knew that the waistlines of the dresses and skirts were a lot higher. It’s so different from what’s popular today, with the low waistlines or things hanging on the hips. It was kind of surprising — I felt very womanly and still very sexy. And you do feel a sense of camaraderie when all the women have to be in girdles. You feel for one another when you say, “OK, I can do this one take, but I really have to go to the bathroom, and it’s going to take a very long time.”
Q: How about your hair? Does it take a long time?
A: It does. Katherine in the hair department was incredible. Most of the people on the show have hair cut to the shoulders, so it’s easier to style for that time. But she said, “I’m going to do my best to make it look like it’s the style, but you can keep your long hair.” We started by creating a bunch of different looks to see what we could do. Once we found a style that everybody liked, it was just different versions of that. It did take a long time — you have to blow out the hair and set it in curlers, and then you start winding it up and teasing it and there are different sections that you fold. All in all, it probably took about an hour-and-a-half.
I wound up using this little knit cap when we were working late and I had to come back early in the morning. I would throw it over my hair, drive home and then wake up and come back in to take the knit cap off. So all Katherine had to do was pull down certain pieces, smooth it out and re-pin it. That cut it down to about 30 minutes.
Q: Was it hard to keep a straight face when Joel Murray [Freddy Rumsen] was playing Mozart on his zipper?
A: It was so hard, especially with Aaron [Staton, who was also in the scene]! He’s just got such an interesting sense of humor, and we’re both looking at Joel and he did it so well — it really was Mozart with a zipper. That was my first episode, so I was settling in to the set. I did have to be directed, because I asked, “Is this funny? Am I allowed to laugh at this?” They said, “No. It’s nothing. They do this all the time.” And I was like, “But it’s funny!”
Q: Did you have a favorite episode?
A: I think “The Gold Violin” just because there was so much going on and I got to find out so many things about Jane that weren’t necessarily clear before. Once we got to the table read, I was just like, “Wow, things just keep getting better and better!”