Jessica Paré talks to Don­ald Clarke about get­ting Ir­ish film ‘Standby’ on the road

‘Mad Men’ favourite Jessica Paré tells Don­aldClarke about bring­ing her star power to new Ir­ish movie ‘Standby’

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– One

Steal My Girl

Di­rec­tion Although this track starts off so mid­dle of the road that it’s ba­si­cally an un­bro­ken white line, Steal My Girl man­ages to steal the show. With a rous­ing cho­rus and uni­ver­sally ap­pli­ca­ble lyrics, this could be One Di­rec­tion’s Never For­get. (Younger read­ers, ask your older pals!)

Which leads us to ask: which one will do a Rob­bie? Not Louis Tom­lin­son (above) who told J-14 mag­a­zine: “We’re like brothers re­ally. The best part about be­ing in a band is just hav­ing each other, to be hon­est. I per­son­ally don’t think I could do it as a solo artist. It would be in­tense and hard to com­pre­hend. It’s good to be able to speak to peo­ple who know ex­actly where you are per­son­ally.”

Tay­lor Swift’s la­bel boss

who asked her to put two coun­try songs on her new al­bum 1989. Tay­lor told the Sun: “I had to con­vince my Nashville record la­bel pres­i­dent it was right for me. I pre­sented the al­bum to him and he said, ‘It’s great, it’s the best thing you’ve ever done, but can you put two coun­try songs on it?’” But she re­fused. “He’s happy as a clown now,”she added. HERO OF THE WEEK

it­self for help­ing Calum Hood of 5 Seconds of Sum­mer see the light. In their new book, he writes: “The love of rock and punk mu­sic brought Michael, Luke, Ash­ton and me to­gether when we were at school, but when I was younger my life could have gone one of two ways. I re­ally loved foot­ball and I wanted to be­come pro­fes­sional. My favourite team was Liver­pool and I dreamt of walk­ing along­side their cap­tain, Steven Ger­rard. But as soon as I dis­cov­ered mu­sic, I knew it was the only thing I wanted to do.”


ZERO OF THE WEEK There are down­sides to achiev­ing fame through a fash­ion­able tele­vi­sion se­ries. Peo­ple in su­per­mar­kets con­fuse you with your character. Those tabloids catch you in the least flat­ter­ing pos­tures. But it’s not all in­tru­sion and in­con­ve­nience. Among the less cel­e­brated ad­van­tages is the abil­ity to help get lower-bud­get fea­tures into pro­duc­tion.

This is not to sug­gest that Rob and Ro­nan Burke’s Standby wouldn’t have made it into cin­e­mas with­out Jessica Paré on board, but the pres­ence of the French-Cana­dian ac­tor – best known as the sec­ond Mrs Don Draper in Mad Men – cer­tainly helped the Ir­ish fea­ture surge for­ward.

“It’s a won­der­ful po­si­tion to be in,” she en­thuses. “It’s so of­ten out of your hands in this pro­fes­sion. I am still a bit sur­prised by all this. So, I am happy to be of ser­vice. It’s very hard to make any sort of film in the cur­rent cli­mate.”

Standby stars Paré and Brian Glee­son as, re­spec­tively, a glam­orous il­lus­tra­tor and an un­der­achiev­ing air­port em­ployee, rekin­dling an old ro­mance on the streets of Dublin. Paré seems mag­nif­i­cently for­eign. We may all be fright­fully cos­mopoli­tan now, but the hint of Québé­cois adds ex­otic colours as she flits through Tem­ple Bar.

Along the way she gets a chance to do great things with a Hank Wil­liams num­ber. Re­mem­ber­ing her ren­di­tion of saucy French num­ber Zou Bisou Bisou in an episode of Mad Men, we might rea­son­ably ask if she ever thought of be­com­ing a singer.

“That is very, very kind of you,” she says in a pa­tient voice. “I loved to sing, but, un­til now, that has been mainly in the shower and in traf­fic. But if there’s a ca­reer path that’s trick­ier than act­ing, it’s mu­sic. So, I don’t know if that’s an amaz­ing back-up plan. The character isn’t sup­posed to be a great singer. So, it’s all right.”

Yet, she has per­formed for thou­sands. I had read that, a few years back, she ap­peared on stage with The Je­sus and Mary Chain. The Scot­tish band are, ap­par­ently, pals with her boyfriend, the mu­si­cian John Kast­ner.

“Yes, Wil­liam and Jim [Reid] are also fans of Mad Men,” she says. (Re­ally?) “I just lucked out on three or four of the tour dates. That re­ally was terrifying. You know they’re somebody’s favourite band. They’ve got a babysit­ter. They’ve bought drinks. So, you re­ally can’t muck it up.”


There are par­al­lels be­tween Jessica Paré and Megan Draper (née Cal­vet), the character she plays in Mad Men.

As she points out, Megan is not a very French name, so it’s fair to as­sume Matt Weiner, the show’s cre­ator, made her a French-Cana­dian only after they’d cast Jessica. Both ac­tress and character have an aca­demic for a fa­ther. Paré’s dad was chair of the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment at McGill Univer­sity.

“That part is a co­in­ci­dence,” she says. “I re­ally don’t think they were think­ing of me when they wrote that. But Matt loves Mon­treal. He loves all that French-Cana­dian stuff.”

Megan be­gins as a sec­re­tary, gets a chance to write some copy and then, ter­ri­fy­ingly sud­denly, finds her­self mar­ried to ad­ver­tis­ing ex­is­ten­tial­ist Don Draper. Was it a sur­prise for Paré? Did she sign on for a sup­port­ing role?

“Pretty much,” she says. “I didn’t even know I was go­ing to be a sec­re­tary. There wasn’t much writ­ten for her. But I guess that they had it in their heads that she would be­come the next Mrs Draper. I had no clue at all. I just thought I’d be in a few episodes.” So, did she first re­alise when she read the script?

“Almost. Matthew phoned me and said in the next episode Megan is go­ing to get mar­ried to Don Draper. He got me when I was in the mid­dle of a nap. So, I was afraid I might be dream­ing. The next day somebody came in and mea­sured my fin­ger for the ring. That was very fit­ting.”

Standby next week


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