With Mad Men over and Betty Draper’s illness ensuring she’s unlikely to appear in any potential spin-offs, January Jones is a free agent. Currently starring in Good Kill opposite Ethan Hawke, Jones is back in wifely territory again. The movie, directed by Andrew Niccol, explores the drone program and the impact of PTSD on a family. In saying goodbye to eight years of Mad Men, Jones is pleased with the way things wrapped up for Betty, as she says, “I loved the way Betty’s story ended and the strength and the resolve and the pride that she has in herself.”
You posted a great Instagram picture of how we should remember Betty – she’s smoking and holding a shotgun.
I was super emotional that day and I don’t usually post three pictures in one day but I was a ball of tears the whole day. So I was feeling very nostalgic and I feel a great sense of relief now that it has aired and I don’t have to keep that secret anymore but I’m also sort of heartbroken, like a friend has passed away or something. It’s very bizarre.
Was there any part of you that was just really struggling with the way the story went for Betty at the end?
No not at all. I loved her storyline. I thought that I really got a very well-rounded ending for her and even though I posted the picture with the gun and visually that looked stronger, that scene was from season one, and to see the very last scene at the end of the series when she has a phone call with Don, that’s actually the strongest you’ve ever seen her, and the letter to Sally, her excitement for the adventures Sally will have that she didn’t get to have – I loved every moment of it
That phone call with Don where they’re both crying, that was just an incredible full circle moment for them.
I know a lot of fans wanted Don and Betty to get back together and I just felt that never would have been realistic, but I felt like in that scene you got a little bit of closure for them, and as tragic as it was, you know it was a little Shakespearian the way it went down. There was a little love story there and you saw that in that scene I hope.
You have Good Kill out right now – were you ever concerned about playing a wife role after leaving Betty Draper behind?
If I can’t play a wife or a mother I’m going to limit myself spectacularly. I just didn’t feel like it was the same sort of wife and mother as I’ve played before. Obviously it was a very different time period and a very different subject matter and I thought that it was just fascinating subject matter itself. I just had a very tiny knowledge of the drone program at all so just reading the script and then doing research on it was an education in itself and I just thought it was a very important story to tell. I’ve been a big fan of Andrew (Niccol) and obviously Ethan (Hawke) for a really long time and I just felt it was different enough for me that I didn’t know much about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or having a partner that’s suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So there was a lot for me to do. There was a lot for me to be challenged by so I was really excited about it.
How did playing that role affect you – was it hard to leave it on set?
That’s one of the beautiful things about the job I get to do. The artistic aspect of doing something so completely different when you’re away at work is so different from what you go home to. It’s something very therapeutic, cathartic. Obviously we had a lot of fun on set in between takes, Ethan and I did. There’s just something very beautiful about trusting your partner, trusting your director, and trusting in the writing, the project itself. It’s one of my favorite things about the job that I get to do, because I can play out those things in my life in a healthy way but I’ve never had a problem with bringing it home. I’ve never struggled with that.
You’ve mentioned you’re a fan of Ethan’s, when did that start?
It started at a very young age. I was a big fan of White Fang as a little girl and I feel like I’ve grown up with him in a way. I mean he’s not that much older than me, but he’s been doing it so long, so successfully for so long that I feel like he’s gotten to do so many different, diverse characters and so many beautiful, memorable pieces of art, that I was almost scared that I would be disappointed in meeting him because I have him on such a pedestal. But he far exceeded my expectations. He’s just a lovely person and a wonderful partner to work with.
You’ve also done the TV show The Last Man on Earth, you’ve said you didn’t intend to do TV immediately but it was too good to pass up. What was it that really pulled you into that show?
It was the writing. I mean it’s not often that you sit down with a script and laugh the entire time you read it and it’s not often the role you get to play is the one that’s making you laugh – especially for women in comedy. So I was just excited to go in and I knew Will (Forte) and I knew some of the writers from SNL. I just thought it would be so fun and it was. I just came to work and laughed everyday. It was just a very different experience creatively than I had on Mad Men. I don’t know why I said I should wait to do another TV show but I guess I just felt I wouldn’t be able to compete with the experience that I had on Mad Men, and I probably won’t be able to, but with the Last Man On Earth it’s just so different. It’s a comedy, it’s a half-hour, it’s a small cast and we just have a blast.
I also thought it was kind of a great opportunity just to remind fans and potential employers that as much as I loved playing her, I am not Betty Draper and I can do other things.
Do you have a favorite takeaway memory from Mad Men?
Well I think maybe because it was the last moment, that phone call scene was the last scene that we shot the last day of work and it felt the whole entire cast and crew were there and everyone was crying all day. It felt like a party, but also a funeral. It was very bizarre but it was a very emotional day and Jon and I were both crying a lot for that scene, either side of the phone call. So I’ll always remember that just because it was the last moment, and it just spoke so much about the love that everyone in the cast and crew had for each other, just all the emotions that were going on that day.