When we think of the hit AMC drama Mad Men, we usually don't think of the show as an opportunity for veteran television actors to reinvent themselves. However, Harry Hamlin of L.A. Law fame has been wickedly hilarious as his turn as an advertising executive at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Also Linda Cardellini, Freaks and Geeks and ER, played Don's mistress last season, and ultimately broke his heart and helped to shatter his daughter's innocence.
On Sunday, we also saw Dan Byrd who plays Travis on Cougar Town, as a naive businessman with a new set of ideals that seem to work better on paper than they do in the real world. But perhaps the biggest, and most pleasant surprise, was seeing Neve Campbell as the sexy, alluring widow seated next to Don Draper on the airplane ride back to New York after an up and down visit with his ready-to-breakout actress wife Megan.
Campbell has more or less been out of the spotlight since her salad days of the 1990s when she starred in the weepy television drama Party of Five, ran her way out of trouble in the horror parody franchise Scream, and fought evil witches in the cult hit The Craft. Her appearance towards the end of the Season 7 premiere may have only been five minutes of screen time, but the impact was felt by fans of the show not only on a nostalgic level, but in a way that could ultimately have an impact on the fate of our anti-hero Don Draper.
Thank you Mad Men for reminding us that Neve Campbell is still alive and looking great
— Nicole DeGraaf (@cynicole78) April 14, 2014
— José Diego (@diegorj) April 15, 2014
The 40-year-old actress spoke about her character's deep back story in an interview with The Daily Beast, "Considering what she’s experienced in the past year with losing her husband, and then living in the generation she does, finding herself living as a widow, there was a lot to play with as an actress. And the fact that her husband was an alcoholic and that she watched him spiral downward, I thought about that history and what that would do to me, and what kind of person that would make me."
Don Draper is clearly a man who has hit rock bottom in his life: he was kicked out of his own company, his marriage is on the rocks, his daughter caught him cheating with his mistress, his alcoholism is out of control, and he can never really escape the horrid memories of his childhood. However, Don always appears to maintain his composure (unless he's blackout drunk). Campbell's character seemed to bring out Draper's vulnerability, he opened up to her in a way that we haven't really seen on the show.
— Mad Men (@MadMen_AMC) April 14, 2014
Campbell agrees, "Don’s suddenly in a very vulnerable place in his life where everything has fallen apart, and since she’s so open and vulnerable in sharing her story, I think it gives him more room to share. Also, her story is something he can relate to, and hear, and he might realize that the effect my character’s husband had on her might echo the damage he’s causing his own family."
Whether or not we will enjoy more of Campbell on the final season of Mad Men remains to be seen. Matt Weiner, the showrunner of the drama, is notoriously secretive and Campbell is not allowed to say if she will be back.
— Kevin Cotta (@kevc1980) April 14, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons