What’s the old saying – “The gun in the first act goes off in the third”? ‘Mad Men‘ viewers witnessed something similar in the Season 4 finale, when Don (played by Jon Hamm) was gifted with the late Anna Draper’s wedding ring. But no one could have guessed that Don’s mild-mannered secretary would wind up the one heading for a wedding. Does Megan know what she’s getting into? Should she hold off on registering for that Tiffany gravy boat? (And what’s with ‘Mad Men’s mini ‘Jack & Bobby‘ reunion?) We spoke with the blushing bride-to-be, Jessica Paré.
How was the role of Megan very first presented to you?
I auditioned for it in April, and I knew it was for a recurring character. I thought I would do three, maybe five episodes. I had absolutely no idea it would end up being as many as it was – nor that it would end in this particular way.
And when did you first learn that you would in fact become Don Draper’s future fiancée?
Only a few days before we started shooting [the finale]. ['Mad Men' creator] Matt [Weiner] called me to give me a heads up before the script came out, and it was pretty shocking. It was as surprising to me as it was for the viewers!
Do you suspect that landing Don was Megan’s plan, or is this purely a case of professional regard blooming into romance?
I certainly wasn’t playing Megan with any kind of agenda – it’s my job to play what’s on the page and not assume anything if I haven’t been told otherwise – so I genuinely believe that it’s how you put it: She does have great admiration for Don professionally. And then when they go to California, they feel really good together.
But when he invited her along for the Disneyland trip, a part of must have been thinking, “Hmm, there’s an opportunity here.”
Yeah, sure, but as she says to him [after sleeping together], “I’m not going to run out of here crying tomorrow,” and she doesn’t. They continued their professional relationship and it wasn’t an issue for them, so maybe for her it is just a nice trip to California – until he surprises her with the ring. Then, she is pretty shocked – “This is all happening so fast.”
Lets talk about that proposal. Partly because of the abrupt shift back to New York City, I at first assumed we were watching someone’s dream sequence. Have you heard that from others?
Yeah, I have heard that yes. [Laughs]
When did it first really hit you, “Holy smokes, I’m on track to be the wife of the lead on TV’s most acclaimed drama series”?
I don’t know that it even has yet. It’s such a crazy process because when Matt first called to tell me, it didn’t really sink in. So I figured, “I’ll read the script and maybe then I’ll really believe it.” And when I read the episode, I loved it – which is yes, a bit selfish, because I had a lot to do! – but that was a whole other part of the experience. Still, I keep thinking, “They’re not married yet.”
Are people appropriately cautioning you that in fact a wedding might not come of this?
The fans of the show, myself included, know this is a show that makes you think about it on a lot of different levels, and you do get a very good sense of these characters, so a lot of people have said to me, “Watch out, that guy will really ruin you.” “Before you get married, you might want to see Seasons 1 through 3.” [Laughs]
It must be in the back of Megan’s head, “He cheated with you, he’ll cheat on you.”
I haven’t heard of that saying!
Or maybe Megan thinks she’s The One?
It’s hard for me to say. I definitely think Megan is confident and she trusts him. I think it might be at least a little naïve, but you very rarely are pessimistic in those kinds of situations. I want to be optimistic for Megan. I want it to work out for her.
Has Matt told you that you’re definitely back for Season 5?
No. I don’t know anything.
He plays his cards so close to the vest.
I think it’s really interesting that they are so secretive, because people will then actually tune in. As it is, if somebody sees the episode and posts about it on my Facebook, they’ll get lots of angry comments from other people who have it TiVo’d or whatever. No one wants ‘Mad Men’ spoiled for them.
Right – and I didn’t see anyone predicting a marriage proposal. And even if there was one, we’d all assume Faye (Cara Buono) would be the recipient.
Faye says [to Don] in the first episode of this season, “You’ll be married again in a year.” And when he challenges her, she says, “I always forget – nobody wants to think they’re a type.”
Before we go, let’s talk about the whole ‘Jack & Bobby’ reunion thing that happened this year on ‘Mad Men.’ We had you, John Slattery, Matt Long for a bit…. How did that happen to come together?
One of the writers was on ‘Jack & Bobby’ as well, Dahvi Waller. And John directed a few of the [Season 4 'Mad Men'] episodes, so he was in my audition, as was Dahvi…. I don’t know what conversation went down, but I can’t help but think that Dahvi said something, like, “She was a lot of fun to work with.” Or maybe she said the opposite and I still got the job!
And now that you’re having this “moment,” I see you’re getting a bit of buzz to play TV’s new Wonder Woman.
I try to keep myself in a bit of a bubble because the truth is I’m not used to it – I’m not used to people like you calling and wanting to talk to me – but somebody told me that just last night. I don’t know what that’s all about.
Can you kick some butt and wield a lasso if need be?
I… am a very fast learner. [Laughs] But that’d be awesome, it’s such a great character. I’m psyched that anybody would think of me for that.