‘Mad Men’s’ Christina Hendricks on a Peggy-Joan Spinoff: We Joked It Would Be Like ‘Laverne & Shirley’

Christina Hendricks on AMC's "Mad Men"

AMC

During TheWrap’s far-ranging interview, the five-time Emmy nominee talks snubs, sexism in Hollywood and what it would take for her to slip into superhero spandex

Christina Hendricks just wrapped her eighth season as one of cable’s most beloved characters. While the actress is devastated to turn the page on “Mad Men,” she couldn’t be more excited to start her life’s next chapter.

“It’s so sad to end the show,” Hendricks told TheWrap. “But you have to look at it as a world of opportunities. Where is the world going to take me next? I had no idea it would take me to where I’ve been.”

AMC has aired over 80 episodes of “Mad Men” since the period drama premiered July 19, 2007, and its final seven installments will run in 2015. Hendricks’ character Joan Holloway (or Joan Harris, depending on how far along she is on her romantic arc) plays a central role in the vast majority of them. Suffice to say she’s put in a lot of hours at the office.

See video: ‘Mad Men’ Star Christina Hendricks Won’t Work Like a Modern Woman Until She Gets Paid Like a Modern Man

Thankfully, the hard work has paid off.  “[TV] is in a much better place than it was,” she said. “I like to think [series creator, executive producer, writer and director] Matt Weiner helped raise the bar for it with the quality of his writing.” Considering “Mad Men” was the first basic cable series to win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, she might be on to something.

But what’s been good for the group on Emmy night has been lousy for the individual.  This year marks Hendrick’s fifth straight nomination. It’s co-star Jon Hamm‘s seventh. Neither has yet won.

All that might change Aug. 25, but even if it doesn’t she insists the cast is happy just to make the short list. “We’re so deeply proud of what we did. It was so nice to get those phone calls, to be nominated. I know it sounds silly, or emotional or something, but when you work that hard for eight years and you’re still in the game and people are still acknowledging you and still appreciating your work — it just felt really nice,” she said. “It’s a really great way to wrap up the show.”

Also read: 11 Questions With ‘Mad Men’ Star Christina Hendricks: Emmy Nominee Quickie

With the end nearing, super-fans have begun to fantasize about “Mad Men” spinoff possibilities. Elisabeth Moss (who plays Peggy Olson) recently appeared on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” and stoked those flames by conceptualizing a new show built around her and Hendricks’ characters.

“It would be amazing,” Hendricks said. “We always joked it would be like a ‘Laverne & Shirley’ type of show.”

So, if there’s a chance — even an infinitesimal one — that Joan and Peggy get a spinoff, it’s de facto confirmation the characters will at least survive the finale, right? An assurance some Red Wedding-esque disaster won’t kill them all?

Hendricks wouldn’t take the bait. “It could be a prequel,” she laughed, “You don’t know! It could be a prequel.”

Good luck prying spoilers from her tightly-sealed lips. The closest she came to divulging plot points was joking about Joan walking into Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce with a lit match and burning the whole place down. “I’m not going to tell you what happens,” she insisted.

In the real world, however, Hendricks felt more comfortable speculating about the future. The actress admitted she could envision a return to the small screen, even if it meant another multi-year commitment, but only under the right circumstances. “If I thought [the project] was really special and really beautifully done,” she said, “I’d sign on in a heartbeat.”

One reason is because Hendricks is more than just a TV star, she is also an addict. “I really like television. I like that characters can unfold over a certain amount of time and can have all this growth and change,” she said. “I think it’s interesting storytelling. I’m a TV addict myself, I watch TV all the time.”

Also read: ‘Mad Men’ Midseason Finale Suffers Memorial Day Ratings Slump

And while she’s done shooting AMC’s Madison Ave. drama, the 39-year-old isn’t done making sacrifices for the good of the medium. She and her actor husband Geoffrey Arend recently left Los Angeles for New York because it’s where his new CBS drama “Madam Secretary” shoots. Hendricks, true to form, is already making the best of her relocation.

“It’s a good opportunity to dive into more theater,” she said. “I want to see everything out there in the world — watch every musical, every play — get inspired and meet people.”

See video: Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon Spit Food All Over Each Other in Fake ’80s TV Show

With talk of Broadway and her sixteen-year career in front of the camera, which stretches all the way back to 1999 with an appearance on the MTV series  “Undressed,” one can’t help but wonder whether Hendricks harbors ambitions to move to the other side of the lens. “I don’t really have aspirations to be a director,” she said. “I do think I’d be a very good producer. I have interest in that. I think it’s where my strengths lie. I’ll always want to be in front of the camera, I love exploring the creativity of that and diving into other peoples lives and looking through their eyes, but I do think I would be a good producer.”

As a Hollywood veteran, Hendricks recently spoke with The Guardian about the culture of the casting couch and sexual harassment on set.  The article quoted the actress as saying, “there’s sexual harassment at work every single day” when one works in the arts.

When she spoke to us about the interview, she sounded disappointed by the context in which it ran. “I’m sorry that when I do an interview people want to write something so verbatim without any tonal clues to what I’m actually saying and it sounds like I’m making some big, grand statement about sexism or sexual harassment,” she said. “It’s just simply not the case. I’m talking naturally. Being a normal human being. I’m not a politician. I don’t know what other people experience, but I know stuff goes on all the time and anyone who says it doesn’t is naive. But I think it’s way better than before, as far as I can tell. Thank goodness.”

Also read: Martin Freeman Wants Two Emmys, But He’d Have to Beat His Friends

“I can’t speak for other women and I wouldn’t have the audacity to do so,” Hendricks told TheWrap. “When I said that — we’re in the arts, there’s flirtation and wink, wink, nudge, nudge, all sorts of playful things that happen every day — I’m not saying it feels like I’m being attacked, but if you wrote it down on paper people can easily construe it that way.” She continues: “Women and men have this interaction all the time, it hasn’t gone away. In certain offices it’s not allowed at all, it would be unheard of, but as an artist it’s much more prevalent.”

Between her undeniable physical presence and her tough-as-nails “Mad Men” character, it’s easy to envision Hendricks kicking-ass one day in a big-budget summer blockbuster — especially with all the recent Hollywood chatter about Spider-Woman, Silver Sable, Black Cat and other female superhero leads. But if studio execs pounded on her door and begged her to play an action hero or a comic book heroine, would she even be interested?

“Every single project I’ve done is because I fell in love with a script,” Hendricks said. “To me its all about the words, the structure, and falling in love with the actual character. If I read it and it’s amazing and they want to have an audition with me, that would be great.”