Actress Sadie Alexandru debuted on AMC’s Mad Men on May 20, 2012 as the newest character, Scarlett. During a phone interview, Sadie told me what it’s like to be the most recent addition on what she calls a very joyful set where everyone takes great pride in their work.
Her lips are sealed as to what’s in store for her character, but she did say, “I think that Scarlett will have a good place at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. I think I have a nice little spot there.” Hmmm… sounds like something juicy may be coming up.
How did your role come about?
I got a call to go in and read for a character named Scarlett. I was supposed to be there at about 11:30. I started my hair at about 7:00 a.m. (chuckling) … Then, I got home, and they told me to get right back down there because I was going in for my hair and makeup test that night and was shooting the next morning. As a matter of fact, they had already done the table read, so they had still been looking for this character. So, I’m thinking maybe he [Mad Men creator, Matt Weiner] had something very specific in mind for Scarlett.
Can you describe the character, or is that giving too much away?
Since we saw Scarlett for one episode [at the time of the interview], I can say that I was really informed by the script because the first word I say as I show up in Harry Crane’s office is the word, “No.” So, I think [she] is pretty self-possessed and sassy. I’m seeing more and more on the show that women are becoming a little more assertive, so I feel like Scarlett is of that breed of assertive girl.
Do you find that you need to play a character of that era slightly different, the way she moves? The clothing is certainly different.
Yes, the undergarments alone inform me on how to move around.
You’re in authentic period undergarments – actual girdles and things?
Fully! Girdles, garters, the whole nine. Christina Hendricks told me she’s got bruises on her thighs from wearing them for so many years. But that’s what women did.
You can tell she’s wearing an old-fashioned bra.
Right. They put me in one, too.
Do they have to make those?
They pull their costumes from all over the place, and a lot of their clothing really is vintage from the 60s. And a lot of their undergarments are really vintage.
Obviously, the stockings haven’t lasted that long, but we have nude thigh highs. They don’t stay up on their own; you have to use the garter to hold them up.
Do you have a thing about the era – the fashions, the décor of the 60s?
I am definitely attracted to it. I always have been. Even when I was behind the bar in New York [as a bartender], people would say, “You look like you exist in the 40s, 50s, 60s….” My mom was a little bit of a fashionista, and she was an executive assistant on Wall Street in the 60s. I heard a lot about that. It wasn’t advertising, but it was kind of close to what the vibe is on Mad Men. I was always interested in looking at her photos – her leopard bathing suits and big sunglasses.
Has she said that Mad Men is accurate in terms of what she remembers?
She has said it’s so accurate that she couldn’t watch for a while. I was into the show and wanted to talk about it with her, but she couldn’t watch for a few seasons. Then, when we found out that I was going to be on the show, she said, “Okay, I’ll start to watch again.” And she loves it. But what women went through … my mother was on a trading floor in the 60s. It’s a little haunting, I think, to most women of my mother’s generation and her friends I’ve spoken with about the show. It really does hit hard.
What was it like to walk into this established cast and show? Did you feel welcomed? Did you feel out of place?
For me, it was such a “1-2-3-go” that it’s almost like my brain didn’t have as much time to catch up with what I was doing, which I think was fortunate for me. When my management team called me and told me that they wanted me to come down and do the role, I paced around my apartment while she was giving me all the details. She was talking to me for about a minute, and then, I asked her to repeat herself. I had no idea what she’d actually said because I was so excited.
But I walked on the set, and I figured at some point, maybe I would see Jon Hamm or John Slattery. But they walked me right up to the makeup trailer, and there everybody was playing cards. I saw Vince Kartheiser and Jon Hamm right away, and they gave me a smile. It was definitely a very welcoming environment. I felt I belonged. The nice thing about this set is that it’s for more real girls in Hollywood. I’m a Jersey girl. I’ve got curves. I’m a carnivore. So, it’s nice to walk onto the set of Mad Men because I really felt like I fit aesthetically.
And Matt Weiner has such a warm, welcoming, powerful smile, and I felt great. As a matter of fact, when I got there, I said, “You know I’m not leaving, right?” It’s the most incredible experience I’ve had on a set, with this cast. Even though they are extraordinarily talented and established, they’re still accessible. They’re all actors; they’re all artists. I haven’t felt on that set that anyone walks around going, “I’m a celebrity….” It feels like home to me. It really, truly does.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
I co-produced a feature film called Act Naturally, and I’m also in it. It’s a quirky, touching indie film about two estranged sisters who inherit a nudist resort from their deceased father. We shot the film on a real nudist resort … and the owners of the nudist resort are in the movie. A lot of the residents are in the movie. But most of the cast are actors. We decided we’d play nudists. We said, “What the heck?” It just won the Audience Choice Award at the United Film Festival, and it will be showing in London on June 4, 2012.