Living well is definitely the best revenge. Christina Hendricks knew there was something special about Mad Men even before the first episode aired in 2007, so she took the role of Joan Holloway against the recommendation of her talent agency—and they dropped her because of it, she told the U.K.'s Guardian in a recent interview. Seven seasons and five Emmy nominations later, she's a true standout on the hit AMC show, widely hailed by critics as one of the best television dramas of all time.
"They said, 'It's a period piece, it's never going to go anywhere. We need you to make money and this isn't going to make money,'" the actress, 39, recalled of her agency's reaction to the Mad Men script. "They ended up dropping me."
A relative unknown at the time, Hendricks didn't back down. "I had been on several shows that were meant to be the big ones, that would go on forever, and they didn't," she explained to the paper. (Prior to Mad Men, the actress appeared on Undressed, The Court, Firefly, and Kevin Hill, among others.) "So there was no sure bet," she continued, "and I'd already taken a chance on them and I felt, why not do the one you're in love with and take a chance on that?"
Her instincts were right on the money. Hendricks' work on Mad Men has changed her life both personally and professionally. In the seven years since the series premiered, she met her husband, actor Geoffrey Arend, through costar Vincent Kartheiser, and she went from bit parts on TV shows to leading roles in major movies, opposite A-listers like Ryan Gosling, Charlize Theron, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, her costar in the new film God's Pocket.
"I was saying to my husband that sometimes when you have a friend who passes, it feels very, very final," she told the Guardian of Hoffman, who died at age 46 in February. "But something about Philip...I keep thinking I'm going to see him again. I guess, when I watch the film now, I feel like it's a celebration of him. I feel lucky to have gotten to work with him. I feel grateful and I feel sad."