Curvy star sees red over slim pickings
Christina Hendricks champions the hourglass figure, write Veronica Parker Darren Devlyn
SHE’S RENOWNED for her shock of red hair, dangerous curves and for prowling her workplace in body-hugging dresses. She’s Mad Men’s vampish advertising agency siren Joan Harris and actor Christina Hendricks simply can’t get enough of playing her.
Such an impact has the hourglass-figured Hendricks made as this proto-feminist warrior that she’s looked upon as a role model for her talent and her torso.
So what does Tennesseeborn Hendricks, 35, make of all the fuss?
‘‘ I’m thankful that I’m getting recognition and the series is so highly regarded,’’ Hendricks says.
‘‘ I love the way Joan can control other women with her attitude and manipulate men just by putting her a---in their sights.
‘‘ I love the outfits Joan gets to wear and I’m not at all embarrassed by the tight fit. They’re part of her power look in some way and it’s part of the sexual politics of her time. Those dresses are part of her combat uniform.’’
Life wasn’t always so easy for the woman who brings a melancholy subtext and multiple layers to a role that goes far beyond the obvious camp elements inherent in a woman who struts around in her ’ 60s era dresses.
Hendricks, whose sex symbol status is set to turn her into a movie star — she has filmed Life As We Know It with Katherine Heigl and will next year appear alongside Adrien Brody and James Caan in Detachment — says she could easily have succumbed to industry pressure to starve herself thin.
‘‘ I give credit to my mum, who told me to feel good about my appearance and not feel embarrassed about my body because she was never worried about looking too big or feeling fat. I started out as a model and when I went to Italy to build my book I gained 15 pounds (6.8 kg) from all the pasta and cappucinos that were part of my life over there.
‘‘ I saw my body change and I loved how it changed my appearance and how it made me look more womanly and sexy.
‘‘ People in the industry, either directly or indirectly, have been telling me to lose weight for years but I like the way I look and only once did I find myself losing a lot of weight after a bad break-up.
‘‘ But then Taye Diggs ( Pri- vate Practice), an actor who was working with me on Kevin Hill, the TV series I did before Mad Men, came up to me and told me to stop losing weight and stick with my look. And I haven’t tried to take off any weight since that time.
‘‘ I like salty, creamy foods. I could sit down with a bag of chips and French onion dip and go to town! That would be on my last-supper list.’’
Hendricks just laughs when asked if she’s as tough as her Mad Men alter ego.
It’s apparent Hendricks is on the mild-mannered side when she begins talking about the underwear she must wear under Joan’s ultra-snug dresses.
Such is the producers’ determination to bring authenticity to the show, Hendricks says, that the women are not allowed to ‘‘ cheat’’ by wearing modern bras and underpants.
‘‘ Unfortunately I normally
Frock and awe: (from left) January Jones, Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks in Mad Men.