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Q&A – January Jones (Betty Francis)

January Jones, who plays Betty Francis on AMC’s Mad Men, talks about Betty’s secrets and her favorite line she’s ever said on the show.

Q: Matthew Weiner told us that your audition for Mad Men was one of the top five he’s seen in his life. What do you remember about it?

A: I auditioned twice. The first time I came in for Peggy. And the second time I came in for a character that he just sort of wrote overnight, which is Betty… But he told me, “There’s this little scene at the end of the pilot, but I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the character if we get picked up.” But he wrote these two amazing, beautiful scenes within two days that ended up being in the show… I just remember thinking that if nothing ever happened with the show, that I was just happy to be able to do those scenes.

Q: How invested are you in what happens to Betty over this final season?

A: I try not to think about what’s going to happen. You can’t help it a little bit, but I try not to presume to know where her character is going to go because whenever I do that, Matthew Weiner takes it one step beyond my hopes and dreams… Betty has grown a lot, as all the characters have. She’s a lot more self-possessed and confident, and her marriage with Henry has allowed her to be a lot more “her”… But as an actor, I love playing those impulsive sort of scenes where she’s all bottled up, just because they’re interesting compared to when things are happy and sunny and bright and perfect.

Q: What’s been your favorite Betty phase?

A: I’m always going to be nostalgic for the first couple of seasons… but I loved the story lines in Season 2 and 3 where she’s riding horses as a therapeutic release. That was the first time we saw any kind of release for Betty outside of her marriage. And it was so much fun to play – that was the first time she started telling secrets on [Don] and she started keeping secrets from him. That was really the first time she had something for herself.

Q: What was it like acting with Jon Hamm again during the summer camp scenes in Season 6?

A: I love any opportunity that I get to have those scenes of Don and Betty with Jon. But it was also a really different dynamic… we’re not yelling at each other and we’re not confronting each other. We’re enjoying ourselves, so it was a very sweet moment. And there was a bit of a role reversal, which was very empowering for me and for Betty. She was kind of using her sexuality to get what she wants, which is something he usually does. [Laughs]

Q: Betty tells Don that “loving you is the worst way to get to you.” Were you surprised at Betty’s insight? 

A: That’s probably my favorite line I’ve ever said on the show — that and, “Only boring people are bored.” [Laughs] As an audience member, I always rooted for a Don and Betty reunion even though it would never work. I just always wanted to see how it would happen now, and I loved the way it did.

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Q: Jon Hamm said people are plotting what they’re going to take from the set after the finale. What do you have your eye on?

A: I wanted the dress I wore in the Coca-Cola audition in Season 1, but I found out from Janie Bryant that even though she altered it — she put in the pink panels and the pink bow — she had to return it because it was a rental. But, then she ended up seeing someone wear it to a book signing she had like five years ago. And then, weirdly, like three weeks ago Aaron Staton told Janie… that lady [who has the dress] is his doctor’s wife, so it all came around again. And then I asked Aaron Staton to ask his doctor’s wife if I can buy the dress from her.

Q: What if she says,”Yes, for one million dollars?”

A: [Laughs] That’s what I’m afraid of. I don’t even know if I’d fit in it now, but I just think it’d be cool to have. I’ve also loved a lot of the furniture. I should just park a U-Haul outside of the set.

Q: Betty dyeing her hair caused a lot of buzz. Have you ever made a drastic change in your appearance like that?

A: I’ve colored my hair a billion different times. I’ve done pink, red, black, blonde. I felt the most unlike me when I had the brunette hair — when I had to color it for Betty. I just didn’t feel like myself. It was very disconcerting, actually. I felt like people didn’t notice me. I felt like a shadow of myself. It was weird.

Q: Do you ever pull pranks on your Mad Men co-stars?

A: I’ve had them pulled on me, and it’s usually Jon Hamm… One time I was pregnant and I was wearing the prosthetics for the Betty weight-gain outfit, and I was just at the end of my rope. And Jon was doing some off-camera lines for me, and he was wearing some of my wardrobe. He was wearing my sweater, and it fit him because I was in the big suit and everything. [Laughs] It made me laugh and it made everything better.

Q: What did you think of the Season 7 Premiere?

A: I watched it at the premiere [party in Los Angeles], which is awesome to see it on the big screen because you get reminded that we basically make a movie every eight days, and it’s better than most movies that I’ve seen in the last ten years. So it just made me very proud, and then, like everyone else, I Tivo’d it and watched it on Monday. But I loved it. I thought it was one of the best season openers that we’ve had in a long time.

Click here to read an interview with Jessica Paré, who plays Megan Draper on AMC’s Mad Men.

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