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How Betty Draper Is Influencing January Jones' Post-'Mad Men' Roles

05/18/2015 11:08 am ET | Updated May 18, 2015
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Warning: This post contains spoilers for “Person to Person,” the series finale of “Mad Men.”

"Mad Men" made a concerted move to bid farewell to each of its principal players during Sunday's finale, with most of them sailing off to happier horizons. Even Meredith had a smile on her face after Roger sacked her. Arguably the only character guaranteed an unhappy ending -- depending how you interpret Don Draper/Dick Whitman's semi-ambiguous future, of course -- is Betty, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in the penultimate episode. That tragic news gave January Jones an Emmy-worthy scene in which she told Don over the phone not to assume care of Sally, Bobby and Eugene, seeing as he hasn't exactly been a hands-on father lately (or ever).

Betty was long ago cemented as one of the show's defining characters. The obvious winner of television's Monster-Mother Award, Jones -- like much of the "Mad Men" cast -- will forever be followed by the shadow of her iconic contributions to the show. And for good reason: None of her screen roles since "Mad Men" premiered in 2007 have eclipsed the impact, and corresponding fan debates, of Betty. (Jones' most substantial gig came with 2011's "X-Men: First Class," in which she portrayed Emma Frost.)

So how does the woman who gave us Betty Francis (formerly Betty Draper) determine her next career moves? The same way she did throughout the show's run, Jones told The Huffington Post during last month's Tribeca Film Festival, where she had a supporting role in the new movie "Good Kill," which opened this past weekend in limited release. "I tried to do all kinds of different things and not put myself in a place where I’d be typecast," she said.

That meant Jones, 37, initially "balked" at the "Good Kill" script, which casts her as the wife of a U.S. Air Force pilot (Ethan Hawke) who cares for their children while her husband grows increasingly disillusioned and distant. (Sound familiar, "Mad Men" fans?) Not wanting to step into the shoes of another suffering housewife, Jones was reluctant to draw again from the same headspace that dictated her tenure in the House of Matthew Weiner.

"She had severe communication problems with her husband and she didn’t know much about him," she said of her "Good Kill" character, indicating another connection to the AMC series. "But the parallels ended there, and I also felt like if I’m going to limit myself from playing a wife and a mother for the rest of my career, I’m not going to work because women are wives and mothers, and it doesn’t make them any less interesting."

Now that "Mad Men" has actually ended, Jones will have to hunt for the role that becomes her next Betty. After "Good Kill" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, Jones appeared as reported boyfriend Will Forte's love interest on the Fox hit "The Last Man on Earth." ("I didn’t want to do another TV show right away, but it was just too good to pass up," Jones told Entertainment Weekly.)

She overcame that resistance rapidly, as she did her desire not to play more wife-mother combinations. "I had to overcome that," she said. "I can’t play another wife? That’s silly and foolish, so I got over that really quickly and just realized it’s very different subject matter and a different character than I’d ever played before."

Whatever path Jones' career takes, we'll miss you, Betty.

EX

"Good Kill" is currently in limited release. Watch the trailer here.

Related on HuffPost:

  • 1. Jon Hamm/Don Draper
    "Be slick. Be glib. Be you," Roger Sterling told Don in season four. He forgot "Be an alcoholic, womanising, advertising genius"... but no matter. For the fact remains: 'Mad Men' introduced us to Jon Hamm - and for that, all of womankind will be forever grateful.
  • What do women want, Jon?
  • They want to do this to you.
  • 2. Elisabeth Moss/Peggy Olson
    Using her talent and smarts to rise from humble secretary to copy chief, the driven, complex Peggy is arguably the show's greatest female role model.
  • And who can forget "I'm Peggy Olson and I want to smoke some marijuana"? Not us!
  • Go Peggy!
  • 3. Christina Hendricks/Joan Holloway
    Like Peggy, the sex bomb that is Joan worked her way up the corporate ladder - and words cannot express how much we're going to miss watching Christina Hendricks in action. Not least because she uses her eyes like this...
  • ...like this...
  • ...and like this...
  • ...and leaves a room like this.
  • 4. The fashion
    AMC
    The men's impeccable suits. The women's impeccable party wear. Yes, the coveted clothes in 'Mad Men' have taken us from 1960 to the early 1970s...
  • Via Betty's ice queen, Grace Kelly style...
  • Joan's sassy pencil skirts...
  • ...(and sassy dresses)...
  • And the men's dapper suits and (occasionally bow) ties.
  • Oh, and there's the hats.
  • Never forget the hats.
  • No you don't, Roger. You look like cool advertising guys in hats.
  • 5. The drinking
    The whiskies! The cocktails! The drinking at work! Naturally, we're not going to condone the smoking in 'Mad Men', but the drinking...
  • ...well, that's a little harder to resist.
  • No. No, you're not, Peggy.
  • (Let's allow Roger to explain.)
  • 6. The design
    AMC
    The offices, the homes, the bars... and the furniture in all those offices, homes and bars. Whatever the scene setting, 'Mad Men' just looks so gosh darn wonderful.
  • In fact, the show's attention to detail even evokes nostalgia for orange sofas. Orange sofas!
  • It's amazing, really, that they let Jon Hamm destroy any of it.
  • Careful, Jon!
  • 7. The music
    The music in 'Mad Men' is, as one commentator put it,"true to the story, true to the characters and true to life." From Acker Bilk to Frank Sinatra, 'The Twist' to 'Zou Bisou Bisou', the musical choices are perfect...
  • ...and also a reminder that people really should start dancing like this again.
  • And like this.
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