Mad Men is my favorite show on television. I live in Los Angeles, and at some point, I went to a Mad Men casting. I didn’t get on the show, but I have three friends who did. In this series I’m calling “The Mad Men Interviews” I’m going to ask each of them the same questions, plus a special one (or two) about their specific episode.
Our first interview is with Molly Hawkey. Molly took my headshots years ago back when I was acting professionally. As weird luck and life would have it, we now live on the same street and didn’t know it until she accidentally got a package of mine once (our addresses are very similar). I was fascinated by Molly’s behind-the-scenes stories of shooting the episode, down to the underwear they made her wear, and also the stories about her trailblazing Mad woMan mom.
For those who don’t know how the biz works, can you tell us how you wound up being on Mad Men?
My manager submitted me and the casting office called me in for an audition!
Were you a fan of the show before you were on it? How about after?
I’d never seen the show when I got the call for the audition, so I watched the first two episodes to get an idea of the tone and what to wear. I looked great for the audition, by the way. I found an old, brown wool skirt and cashmere sweater at The Goodwill — the breakdown said the character was a “mousy scientist” — and I coiffed my bob perfectly.
How many times did you have to audition?
I only had one audition and it was so fun. Like I said…I’d never seen the show. It didn’t even occur to me to look up anything about the producers, directors, and casting directors, so when I walked into the audition I didn’t know who any of the six people in the room were. That worked out to my advantage because I was crackin’ jokes with Matthew Weiner and I had no idea. I mean, I was on fire! I had him laughing the whole time. About an hour or two later my manager called and said calmly, “Molly? What did you do in there?” I said, “…uh, oh…why?” He goes, “Because they’re in love with you!”
That’s completely awesome. Who was your scene with?
Don [Jon Hamm], Peggy [Elisabeth Moss], Ken [Aaron Staton] and two other scientists at the Kool Whip lab…one of whom was played by Mr. Belding of Saved by the Bell fame [Dennis Haskins].
You were the first person to tell Don Draper he couldn’t smoke somewhere. Do you realize you made Mad Men history with that line?
I had no idea. I mean…I guess you’re right!
Anything memorable happen you can share?
Honestly, the most fun happened before the shoot day. I got to go to the table read and meet everyone. They cast had so much fun around the table…and I realized how funny the show actually was. When I said my magical line to Don he stared me down. And then everyone laughed!
Wardrobe was pretty awesome. I got to try on a bunch of great vintage dresses. Hard to tell from the scene, but I’m actually wearing ’60s heels, nylons, a girdle, an old school pointy bra, an itchy wool turquoise blue dress and jacket…all under that silly lab coat.
The day of the shoot was kind of a let-down. Why? It’s a dramatic scene and no one gave a fuck about the little co-star over here with her one line. The actors were keeping in character and trying to remember their lines. Understandable! But no fun for me. And I was on my feet in those ’60s heels for six hours as they ran the scene 30 times. No one told me when the camera was on me or when it wasn’t, so I never relaxed. My back hurt.
Damn. What was the reaction from family and friends when you told them you were going to be on the show?
Do you have a favorite Mad Men character and/or episode?
Well, after I booked the show I had a Mad Men marathon, trying to catch up. I loved it…but also HATED it. I hated how the men took advantage of all the idiot women and how the idiot women let them. Sorry, guys, but it absolutely infuriated me to see how weak the women were portrayed when my mother, an OG Mad Man, broke through the glass ceiling and paved the way for other women in advertising. I also started getting depressed and jealous, transferring my anger at Don and fucking what’s his name [Pete], onto my boyfriend at the time. The show ACTUALLY made me suspicious of him. Not cool. So I had to take a break for a couple months. Luckily there were seven months between the shoot and the airing, so I was able to catch up before I saw my episode.
My favorite episode is my episode, of course [“Lady Lazarus.”]
Why do you act professionally? Do you ever see yourself stopping?
Hmmm. I’ve been trying to figure that out for a while. I think it started because I grew up the youngest of seven and I just craved attention. I was also lucky enough to have parents that encouraged me to express myself creatively. They put me in ballet, tap and jazz classes, I took piano lessons. I LOVED singing. I was a tiny mouse in the Nutcracker at three-years-old and I was in every school play and musical ’till I graduated high school. I just loved it.
But it kinda stopped there. I went to Cornell after high school and formed a wonderful friendship with weed and alcohol for the next four years. Finally, senior year in college, it hit me that I wanted to be an actor.
So here I am, 13 years later, still trying, still starved for attention, I guess? I’m lucky because I’ve gotten to perform improv weekly for the past nine years at iO West, my home away from home.
What are you working on now? Where can we see you next?
Oh, well, I’m at iO West all the time. They’re shaking some things up over there right now, so I can’t really tell you what the future holds as far as when you can see me, but who knows! Come down tonight! 6366 Hollywood Blvd.
I also created and star in an improvised web-series that I love. It’s funny and sad and I haven’t heard a negative thing about it. Like…ever. It’s called Holy Singles, and it’s about Sevany, an unlucky-in-love girl who hosts a weekly Christian Singles Meet-Up in her back yard. It’s funny and sad and you will fall in love with Sevany.
Most recently I shot an MTV Pilot where I got to play a hard ass FBI agent. That was fun.
I just wanted to brag about my mom, Penny Hawkey, for a minute. Like I said earlier, she’s the OG Mad Man. She started as a secretary, just like Peggy, but quickly worked her way up through the ranks. Copywriter, Creative Director, and eventually President, at different, big-time agencies. She was no wimp. She played the game like a man. She even wore a shirt and tie to work. Methinks Diane Keaton took some style tips from my hot mom. She was the first woman ever allowed in the Coca Cola board room, and I’m guessing that’s where she pitched her idea for the most famous commercial of all time – the iconic Coca Cola spot starring Mean Joe Green.
Iconic indeed. I’ve seen this parodied on The Simpsons. It’s the commercial where the football player throws his towel to the kid.
Yup. Almie, if you want real Mad Men stories you should interview her. She has stories of sexism that will make your blood curdle. I have no idea why Matt Weiner hasn’t hired her as a consultant, but I guarantee the women of Mad Men could learn a thing or two from her.
Thanks, Molly. This was fun! Hope you guys enjoyed the read.