January Jones is best known for playing 1960s housewife Betty Draper on AMC's 'Mad Men,' but as we discussed just last month on the occasion of her 33rd birthday, this could very well be the year she breaks out at the movie theater, as well.
At the very least, she has some interesting projects on the docket in 2011. This weekend brings the Hitchcockian thriller 'Unknown,' in which she plays the frigid wife of a frantic Liam Neeson. And in June, she'll join a strong cast to appear in skimpy white attire as the telepath Emma Frost in 'X-Men: First Class.'
The actress sat down with Moviefone at the posh Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills to discuss those constant comparisons to Grace Kelly, the revealing costumes she'll wear as Frost and why she doesn't ever want Betty Draper to be happy.
Moviefone: What sold you on 'Unknown'?
January Jones: The script. Usually you get a script and you read the first 30 pages and, if it's really interesting, you keep going. With this script, I don't even remember getting to page 30. It was just really fun, exciting and smart. And I loved the character. You can't really define what she is: Is she good or is she bad? Kind of a femme fatale, but sort of not. Very focused on the task and just really kind of like James Bond. But it was fun. It was something I hadn't done before.
So, it was like a Bond girl role, in a way?
Not Bond girl -- Bond.
You're always being compared to Grace Kelly because you're so stylish ...
'Unknown' is being called Hitchcockian. Do you think that might cause the Grace Kelly comparisons to increase?
Yeah, everyone says that about 'Unknown.' I think that Hitchcock would be very flattered. But it's hard for me, that comparison. It's really cool to be compared to a Hitchcock blonde, because all of the actresses he used were really talented and just kind of mysterious. And you kind of didn't really know what was going on with them. So I take that as a compliment, just because I like to add a little depth to the characters no matter what I'm doing. But the Grace Kelly comparison, I take that with a grain of salt. She was really beautiful and great and philanthropic. I don't know how I'm supposed to live up to that.
Let's talk about 'X-Men: First Class.' How revealing is your Emma Frost costume?
I'm naked. [Laughs.] In the comics, the costume is pretty much just painted on and she has a pretty unrealistic body. So it was a challenge for me. I literally went from 'Mad Men,' packed the next day and flew to [the set in] London -- so there wasn't any time for me to do a lot of toning up or getting fit. I just had to wing it.
But we had a lot of fun with the costumes in that we wanted to make them very revealing and sexy, and they're always white and pearl-ized. We got that Emma Frost look, but with a '60s twist -- and a lot of sparkles, because she turns into a diamond. We did all the research from the comic books and took bits and pieces of her costumes from different time periods and meshed it all together. We did a lot of leather.
So, you were involved in coming up with the costume?
Definitely. I have to feel good in it. I'm the one who's got to wear it 18 hours a day. It was a lot of boots, a lot of hair, a lot of boobs. You can't please everyone, but the goal is to not disappoint everyone.
Is she a villain? In the comic books she becomes an ally of the X-Men.
The only research I did was the early stuff; I know where she goes later on in the comics is more towards the school and teaching with Professor X. What was really neat about the comics is just how far back they go in the history for each character. Each character's backstory is so cool -- I guess that's why everyone loves those comics. She's from a very wealthy family. She has issues with her father, and from that, issues with men. She's very pro-mutants and anti-human in that she thinks the humans are against them, which a lot of the time they are. That doesn't make her a villain so much as that she's just not pro-CIA or the American government.
I think what people fail to remember is [how powerful she is]. There's this thing you can look at online that lists each mutant and their powers, and ranks them pretty much by how bad-ass they are -- and I'm like number one. Everyone just remembers the boobs and the outfit and the hair, but she is not only telepathic, she turns into a diamond and it takes a lot of people to take her down. So people just need to remember that!
Do you have a lot of amazing fight scenes?
Weirdly, James McAvoy is Professor X, so we have a lot of telepathic scenes, which is very interesting to shoot, staring at each other, trying to out-think one another. And then I have some physical fighting going on as a diamond.
You're in league with Sebastian Shaw, right?
Yeah, there's the whole Hellfire Club stuff that's brought into it, which is really cool. And it brought the 1960s vibe into it and the whole Cuban Missile Crisis, making it feel like it really could have happened, which is really neat and the script is really smart about that. Matthew Vaughn's done a really good job with it.
Between 'X-Men' and 'Mad Men,' you've spent a lot of time in the '60s.
I know -- that was one of the things I was worried about when I first heard that it took place in 1962. I was like, "No way! You gotta be kidding me!" But it's so, so different. Not only just visually, but the characters obviously. I didn't ever feel like I was in the '60s, except every once in a while when someone would say, "Groovy." Which I'm not even sure is historically correct for 1962!
Yeah, that might be more late-'60s.
We took some liberties.
Can you tell me a little about the movie you did with Nicolas Cage, 'The Hungry Rabbit Jumps'?
I shot it right before this movie and it's more of a psychological thriller. Really great script, just Nic and Guy Pearce and me. I think it just got bought, I'm not sure by who, but I think it'll be out this summer.
Great. What's coming up on 'Mad Men?'
I don't know. The writers haven't gotten back in the room yet. They're still working on [creator Matthew Weiner's] deal.
What are you hoping is next for Betty?
Everybody assumes I'd like to see her happy, but it's not fun to play out. [Laughs.] I never really think about that and I never really try to guess -- because I'm always wrong. Matthew really has a genius eye for how each of these characters come together or are pulled apart. I just have a lot of fun reading the scripts when they come in. I don't try to guess or predict what's going to happen.
You never suggest anything to Matt?
Oh, no, never. If I did, he would just go the other way. He doesn't like to please anyone in that way, really. He likes to shock.