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Q&A – Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper)

In this interview, Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper on AMC’s Mad Men, discusses Sally and Don’s changing relationship and the personality trait the two share.

Q: After all these years being one of the only kids on set, what’s it like to shoot scenes with other girls your own age?

A: We had a great time. It was all really fun. I think it’s just a really different dynamic working with girls my own age. It’s totally just a different vibe, especially for my character as well. We see her mostly around adults and her parents, so for Sally too it’s a different scenario.

Q: This season, Sally and Don seem to be learning how to relate better. Are there traits you think they share in common?

A: I definitely think that people are a product of their own environment, and I think that Sally in a lot of ways is like both of her parents. Even if she doesn’t want to be… She’s like her father in certain ways, especially when you see them together. She’s smart, she’s sort of conniving, all those sort of traits.

Q: What’s it been like working even more closely with Jon Hamm?

A: I’ve particularly always loved all of Don and Sally’s scenes from the very beginning, when they were so sweet, to now where they’re sort of heartbreaking and filled with so much emotion… I love working with Jon. He’s the best, and it’s been fun to see the relationship change, and it’s been great as an actor to have so many opportunities to have these scenes.

Q: The scene in Episode 2, “A Day’s Work,” where Don drives Sally back to boarding school and they stop at the diner is so great. What do you remember most about shooting it?

A: It was an actual diner… and I loved both those scenes in the diner because they were sort of more quiet, and Sally was sort of questioning Don and telling him things that maybe he didn’t want to hear, but he had to hear, and then it all sort of wrapped up with Sally saying “Happy Valentine’s Day, love you” at the end.

Q: At any point did you think that Don and Sally were actually going to skip out on the check when you first read the script?

A: [Laughs] Yeah, I totally did think that we were going to dine-and-ditch there for a moment. I’m not going to lie. I felt a bit stupid when I realized they were totally kidding.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from your Mad Men co-stars?

A: I learn more from watching other people do their jobs and do them so well. That’s the advice I’ve gotten. I’ve just seen all these brilliant actors in action, and I’ve seen amazing directors and producers and writers and cameramen and costume designers and set designers. It’s been great to watch all these super-talented people do what they do. It’s been such a learning experience.

Q: You’re commanding your own episodes these days. Fans just seem to want more and more of Sally. What kind of feedback do you get from fans? When did you first realize that Sally was going to be a major character?

A: When people get excited about something Sally has done or she has a big episode and people compliment me on it, it’s absolutely so great, and it’s rewarding to know that episodes that I love, that other people really enjoy them as well… It was in Season 3 when Sally’s grandpa died, that was when the more emotional material came, that was one of the first dramatic events in her life. So I think that’s when her character started to emerge as a real powerful voice in the show.

Q: If you could pick one thing, what is the biggest difference between your personality and Sally’s?

A: If I had to pick one, Sally is more sassy than I am to be quite honest, which I love. It’s great, but it’s not me. [Laughs] I’d say she’s probably more brave too. She’s pretty daring.

Q: Sally’s becoming a bit of a fashionista. Has your own interest in fashion played a part in that?

A: I think Mad Men has more influenced my fashion sense than my fashion sense influencing Sally at all. I think that Janie [Bryant] does such a great job at costuming and that most girls at that age are into fashion and looking cute.

Q: Are there any late ‘60s style elements that you’ve incorporated into your wardrobe?

A: I love vintage clothes. I don’t incorporate a lot of them into my daily style, but I think that’s what makes getting dressed up and wearing them more fun… It’s fun to have the two, to be Sally Draper and then to go back to some modern day clothes.

Click here to read an interview with Mad Men actress January Jones.

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