In mcgarrybowen’s first ever ‘Icons in Action’ interview at Spikes Asia, Christina Hendricks talks about taking risks and trusting your gut.
“I can do that.”
Acting was always a passion for Hendricks (she started doing community theatre at the age of nine), but she never saw it as a career, instead choosing to do jobs that “paid the rent” like working in a hair salon. That all changed one day when she was watching a movie and said to herself; “I can do that. I want to do that.” That conviction and self-belief landed her roles in a number of short-lived TV series, until she finally read the script for a new show everyone was talking about, called Mad Men.
When Hendricks first read the script for Mad Men, she immediately knew she wanted to play Joan, even though it was for a new network which nobody believed would ever create something so good — AMC has since given us Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, of course. She was also up for a role in a “sure thing” on a major network, but she decided to take a risk and go for Mad Men. The rest, as they say, is history (and the other show never even got picked up).
An actress is a different kind of advertiser
In Mad Men and in real-life advertising, the point is to make a consumer feel something. As an actress, Hendricks says it’s not that different; when filming Mad Men, there was always the question of what exactly they wanted to make the audience feel during a particular scene. “I try to make every moment as real as possible as an artist,” she says.
Being “real” is just as important when partnering with brands; Hendricks prides herself on being “natural and friendly”, and only works with brands that she would talk about in everyday life. If a brand spokesperson sounds unnatural, she says, it can turn people off both you and your product.
“If you don’t love it, don’t do it.”
Whatever career you’re in, Hendricks advises you follow your gut. “It’s hard being an artist,” she says, “and I have found that the way I choose projects is to truly trust my instincts, my heart, and say; what can I contribute to this?” She admits to being deeply stubborn when she feels strongly about a project, but also believes that collaboration can make your original idea even greater and can “fuel closeness” between peers. In addition to trusting one’s gut, the best advice she can give, she says, is to “know your strengths”, as this more than anything will help you tell better stories.