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AMCtv.com chats with Abigail Spencer (Suzanne Farrell) about joining the cast for Season 3, and playing Don Draper's latest "other woman" who just might be Mad Men's first flower child.
Q: When did you first find out about getting the part ?
A: It was a very fast process. People had been telling me I should be on the show, that I have that feel, that look. I had my manager talk to casting. And they had something! A few weeks passed, then I had an audition. My son was seven months old, so I was just happy to get out of the house!
Q: What was the audition like?
A: You walk in the room and are given a few out-of-context scenes with random character names. There was something about the character -- she felt different, more progressive. I met Matt [Weiner], and I liked him so much. He was so clear about what he wanted. He got very serious and said, "This character is like nobody else on the show." I kind of felt like that was it. At 7PM that day they called and said, "Can you be on-set at 7AM tomorrow?"
Q: Are there qualities you share with Suzanne?
A: She thinks with her heart, which I feel is a rare thing. She's a bit odd in that world: Peace, love, all these aspirations, it wasn't normal then. That is something that we share. I loved her simplicity and warm manner. She reminded me of my mother, who was also a schoolteacher, made her own clothes and was still single in her mid-twenties, like Suzanne. Actually, maybe I share more with the character than I think! Matt is infamous for that.
Q: Any fashion envy for the snazzy outfits worn by Rachel Menken and Bobbie Barrett in earlier seasons?
A: My first reaction was, I'm on Mad Men, and I don't get to be Mad Men-ed out? Then I met with Janie [Bryant, costumer designer], and hair and makeup, and they all loved the vision of Suzanne. It was really fun to see how we could present the character in 1963 -- even though she is, in some ways, a flower child ahead of her time. At that time you very rarely see characters that dress plainly, with no makeup, natural hair. I ended up loving it. I was definitely more comfortable than other women on the show!
Q: How does it feel to play Don Draper's latest "other woman"?
A: It felt tricky as an actor. You don't know much about her. It just comes down to committing to what is being called for and being honest about it and being open to whatever. It didn't hurt that Jon Hamm is probably the easiest, nicest, most respectful actor I could ever act with.
Q: Do you remember your teacher from when you were Sally Draper's age?
A: My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Laucella, really introduced me to art. She loved Picasso and modern art so we spent a lot of our days doing art and singing "American Pie."
Q: What's the reaction on the street to your character?
A: What is so great about the show is so many of my friends are uber-fans. On Sunday night or Monday morning, every person I know will have some opinion about what happened on the show. At first, everyone thought I was going to be the new "Patio" girl. Then they thought, "You're a stalker, you're a bunny boiler." You just accept it because there's nothing you can say. Before shooting Episode 9, Matt told me to listen
to a Leonard Cohen song, Suzanne. If you read the lyrics, you'll get it.
Be sure to also hear from some of the "other" women in Don Draper's life: