Mad about you

Christina Hen­dricks makes “magic” in TV’s hottest new an­thol­ogy se­ries, The Ro­manoffs

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Front Page -

IF Christina Hen­dricks was hop­ing to recre­ate some magic by re­unit­ing with her nine-time Emmy award-win­ning Mad Men cre­ator Matthew Weiner, it ap­pears to have worked.

The much-missed show’s break­out star earned six Emmy nom­i­na­tions as buxom fem­i­nist Joan Hol­loway, a role which po­si­tioned her as one of the most mes­meris­ing ac­tors of tele­vi­sion’s mod­ern re­nais­sance.

Cast again by Weiner in his hotlyan­tic­i­pated new se­ries The Ro­manoffs, Hen­dricks is back at her best, re­unit­ing with former Mad Men co- stars, John Slat­tery and Jay R. Fer­gu­son, as well as Diane Lane, Aaron Eck­hart, Kathryn Hahn, Noah Wyle and Radha Mitchell – all of whom play peo­ple who be­lieve them­selves to be de­scen­dants of the fa­mously doomed Ro­manov dy­nasty.

Hen­dricks is the pro­tag­o­nist in episode two of 10 – a fish- out- of-wa­ter tale where re­al­ity and fan­tasy are in­de­ci­pher­able.

In a role she de­scribes as “the clos­est I’ve ever played to me,” Hen­dricks is diva movie star Olivia Rogers – dis­patched to Prague to re­place an ac­tress, play­ing one of the Ro­manoffs in a film, who has left the pro­duc­tion un­der mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances.

When Olivia ar­rives on set, she is met with a highly com­bat­ive and ec­cen­tric direc­tor (Os­car win­ner Is­abelle Hup­pert) and an ego ma­niac of a lead­ing man (Jack Hus­ton).

Olivia dis­cov­ers she has been cast partly be­cause of her phys­i­cal at­tributes, and is com­pli­mented about fill­ing out the Ro­manoff cos­tume in ways her pre­de­ces­sor did not.

For Hen­dricks, it’s a fa­mil­iar re­frain, with much made of her Mar­i­lyn Mon­roeesque, hour-glass fig­ure – a rar­ity in mod­ern Hol­ly­wood and the cat­walks of the fash­ion world. More’s the pity, the 43-year- old tells TV Guide, con­cerned by the pres­sure put on women to ad­here to a ‘ thin is in’ norm.

While the nat­u­ral-born blonde be­gan dye­ing her hair red at the age of 10 (in­spired by her love of Anne of Green Gables), she in­sists she’s “never been asked to change my look.”

“I just think it’s un­for­tu­nate that we look to fash­ion mag­a­zines [for] in­spi­ra­tion be­cause ob­vi­ously they are a bit of fan­tasy,” she says. “Those girls are mostly 16 and 17 years old, so it’s very hard for a grown wo­man to look like that … it’s tricky.

“We put too much pres­sure on our­selves to try and achieve that, whether it’s hav­ing 16-year- old skin, 16-year- old hair or a 16-year- old body,” she adds, urg­ing women “to be nicer to our­selves and re­ally em­brace and love our in­di­vid­u­al­ity.”

Be­ing re­placed in a role is also ter­ri­tory Hen­dricks has con­fronted in her 16year ca­reer; a sce­nario she says is more com­mon than the au­di­ence re­alises.

“I have re­placed some­one and I’ve been re­placed,” she says. “It hap­pens very of­ten in this town. And you’re usu­ally not the first choice when you get a job in the first place. You have to be very, very open and ac­cept­ing of those facts.”

Play­ing a char­ac­ter plagued by in­se­cu­ri­ties like Olivia left an im­print on Hen­dricks, just as be­ing bold and as­sured like Joan did in Mad Men.

“You’ve got to tap into those [in­se­cu­ri­ties] that you know about your­self and ex­plore that: want­ing to be re­spected, want­ing to be liked, hop­ing that you’ve earned it and that you’ve proved it and that you’re ad­e­quate in all those things.”

She is an­chored by her mar­riage to an­other ac­tor, Ge­of­frey Arend, even if their sched­ules keep them apart. “He’s al­ready back to work on Madam Sec­re­tary, [and] his hia­tus is dif­fer­ent from my hia­tus, so we only got two weeks’ to­gether. My dear friend Michael Gladis from Mad Men got mar­ried, so we went up to Idaho, went to a beau­ti­ful wed­ding and that be­came our va­ca­tion,” she says, ad­ding: “so we’re just tex­ting right now.”

She filmed her Ro­manoffs scenes in Cze­choslo­vakia, while the an­thol­ogy pro­duc­tion shot in seven coun­tries, in­clud­ing France, China and the UK.

At a ru­moured cost of $6 mil­lion an episode, it’s not only one of the most am­bi­tious TV projects for Ama­zon to date, but also one of the most ex­pen­sive.

“I’d never been [to Prague] and I feel like I left my heart there,” says. “It was hon­estly the best thing I’ve ever worked on. A truly mag­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.” Thanks to the mar­riage of former Suits star Meghan Markle to Prince Harry, fas­ci­na­tion with roy­alty is ar­guably at an all-time high – it just doesn’t in­ter­est Hen­dricks in the way this Rus­sian royal mys­tery does.

The ex­e­cu­tion deaths of the real Ro­manovs, fol­low­ing or­ders from then- Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, have long in­trigued – with the re­mains of the youngest daugh­ter Anas­ta­sia never found.

“Even though it hap­pened so many gen­er­a­tions ago there’s an el­e­ment of, ‘ Did one re­ally sur­vive?’ and that has kept it in­ter­est­ing and tragic at the same time,” Hen­dricks says, ad­ding “peo­ple love a mys­tery.”



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