Her character's dramatic weight gain on Mad Men is a hot topic on the internet this week, but when we spoke with January Jones recently, she looked like the beautiful Betty Draper we’ve always known. The pink highlights in her hair were definitely different, however, as was her sunny disposition. But January said she’s used to being regularly mistaken for the B-word (“Betty”), and actually gets a kick out of playing the heavy (figuratively speaking).
Watch now as the actress discusses playing the bigger-and-better Betty of Mad Men Season 5.
And here's the transcript of our chat, with a few extra tidbits:
How does Betty perceive her kids?
I think she sees them as a bit of a burden, to be honest. I think that they annoy her. Some people aren’t meant to be mothers. I think that when Baby Gene came along, she was excited about it because she saw it as a new beginning for her and Don and that didn’t happen. So yeah, everything she thought about how being a mother would turn out didn’t happen, so they’re just annoying to her. Saying and doing stupid stuff.
Do you think she’s doing some serious damage to Sally?
Probably, yeah. I mean, kids remember everything. I remember every little thing that my parents did to me that I was irritated by, I just do, and my parents were great. My dad was my gym teacher when I was six years old, and he never picked me to be team captain, and that sat with me thirty years. I can’t even imagine. But I think Sally is a strong person. Sally is more her father than her own mother, and I think that she’ll probably be fine. I think that she’ll probably be, you know, Anna Wintour or something.
Is there nowhere left for Betty to go as far as fulfilling a career is concerned? Has she given up, basically, just going to be Henry’s wife?
I think that there’s a lot of hope for her in being Henry’s wife. A politician’s wife, there’s a lot for her to do there. There’s a career in that. There’s a career separate from being a wife and a mother apart from being a politician’ wife. There’s engagements and social things, and those are things that Betty is good at. I think that that appealed to her with Henry a lot.
Does she love him?
I think there’s a part of her that loves him, for sure. Everything that she loved about Don, Henry also has, but he’s also a good man and he’s good to her. And she recognized that, so you have to give her credit for that, but I think that maybe her and Don have a stronger love bond. But Henry is better on paper, and is not one day going to have a box and be a whole other guy.
Going into the fifth season, are you at all sick yet of the fashions, or do they still excite you? Or did they ever excite you?
I’m always more comfortable doing a character where I’m in things that I wouldn’t wear in my regular day to day. There’s a gradual process of hair, makeup, and wardrobe that gives up extra oomph and gets you settled into the character. But I feel like Betty’s fashions have been evolving in the past couple of seasons. Janie [Bryan, the Mad Men costume designer] has been experimenting with different silhouettes since Betty has gotten married to Henry. She definitely uses that tool for another way of telling the story for that character. Now Betty’s a politician’s wife, so she’s got a whole new closet, doing less of the Grace Kelly petticoats and more of the Jackie Kennedy look. I love all that stuff. I love fashion, so I love collaborating.
Is it a kick to see the trickle-down effect, like with the Banana Republic Mad Men line?
It’s really cool. It’s very flattering. It means I can’t shop at Banana Republic, but it’s an amazing thing. The show is just so, so weird. So surreal that it’s had so much of an impact on our culture and so cool to be a part of it.