Christina Hendricks is truly enjoying the best of both worlds.
While the Mad Men star is grabbing the spotlight for more mature mainstream opportunities as a judge on Bravo’s upcoming season of Top Chef and as the new face of designer Vivienne Westwood’s “Get a Life” Palladium jewelry collection, Hendricks is also currently living her childhood dreams as the voice of Lois Lane in the all-new animated film All-Star Superman.
Hendricks stars alongside Desperate Housewives’ James Denton (Superman) and Without A Trace’s Anthony LaPaglia (Lex Luthor) in the critically-acclaimed, hot-selling DC Universe Animated Original Movie that poignantly captures Grant Morrison’s beloved, Eisner Award-winning vision of Superman’s heroic final days on Earth.
Along with husband Geoffrey Arend (500 Days of Summer), Hendricks was the featured attraction at the world premiere of All-Star Superman in New York’s Paley Center for Media. The press corps and fans flocked to the event, lauding praise and adoration on the actress for her roles in everything from Mad Men to Firefly. Following the screening, the crowd gave Hendricks a resounding ovation for her performance as Lois Lane.
Hendricks is at the forefront of a stellar for All-Star Superman cast that includes Denton, LaPaglia, seven-time Emmy® Award winner Ed Asner (Up), Golden Globe® winner Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under), Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) and Linda Cardellini (ER) as Nasty.
Hendricks sat for a few questions after her initial recording session for All-Star Superman, revealing her childhood adoration for the Superman characters, the trick to understanding the Lois Lane mindset, a penchant for playing Dungeons And Dragons, and the new street cred she’s earned inside her own home. Here’s what Christina Hendricks had to say …
GARY MIEREANU: Did playing Lois Lane have a greater resonance for you than most characters?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: It’s incredibly special for me to get to play Lois Lane because when I was growing up in Oregon, the first movie I ever went to see at a drive-in movie theater – and I think second overall — was Superman II. I can remember thinking, “This is amazing.” That was my first impression of what movies were – the adventure and action –and so this is me coming full circle. Now, I get to be Lois Lane. (laugh)
And I have been talking about playing Lois Lane for weeks now. I’ve been telling everyone that I get to be Lois Lane. It’s a big deal. There’s a few characters throughout your life that everyone knows and you’ve known your whole life. This is one of them. So to play Lois was really exciting.
GARY MIEREANU: Did you have any preconceptions about this role before entering the recording booth?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I think I probably had preconceived ideas about the role because I grew up watching Margot Kidder. She’s my Lois Lane. So I wanted to make sure that I did some research to know as much as I could about the character and where she originated.
I grew up on Superman and Lois Lane, so a lot of the questions were already answered in my head. But I just wanted to get a little bit more background, and think about the original Lois Lane, and the intention behind the character. I didn’t want to be copying someone.
GARY MIEREANU: Did you have any favorite scenes or lines?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I love the scene where they’re flying. I mean, everyone loves a Superman scene when they’re flying, and Lois Lane gets to fly. It was really fun to do something like this because anything can happen in animation. You can dance underwater or fly over Metropolis. And as the actress, you just are along for the ride. So that was exciting.
GARY MIEREANU: What it is about Christina Hendricks that made you the right choice for Lois?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I think I’m a good Lois Lane because I think I’m tough, and I think I’m up for adventure and curious and spontaneous. And I’d like to think that Lois Lane is all those things.
GARY MIEREANU: There’s a lot of Lois in this film – she’s the emotional barometer of this film, and she gets to do a lot of things she’d never done before on film. How did you approach visualizing those emotional and surreal aspects of playing Lois?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I think in order to play the emotions of Lois Lane in a situation where all sorts of fantastical things are happening, you really have to know that this is a world this woman already lives in. For Christina, these things are crazy – flying and going under water and seeing the Titanic sitting there are foreign to me. But Lois Lane already lives in this world. So you have to be true to her and know that this isn’t her first time seeing all these things. And you have to keep reminding yourself of that.
GARY MIEREANU: When you were performing the role and going through these fantastical scenes and images, what are you envisioning to authentically act the role?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: The script is so descriptive – it’s so beautifully written and the images are so perfect that it’s very easy to jump in and imagine. It’s like being a child and just going along with the flow. It’s very fun. And it’s all spelled out for you, so as long as you’re open to taking the trip, it’s quite easy.
I closed my eyes several times while I was doing the lines because I thought, “Oh, I can’t think about these people looking in here at me. Let me imagine what this really would feel like.” And you just have to feel the wind on your face. (laugh)
GARY MIEREANU: How does Lois Lane compare with other characters you’ve played?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I identify with Lois Lane in other characters that I’ve played and, of course, in my own self. She is strong and determined, but she also has a vulnerable side. She’s a woman, so she can take care of herself, but every once in a while, you know, Superman’s got to come and save her. I currently play Joan on Mad Men, who some might say is an incredibly strong character, which is what’s so fun about her. But like Lois Lane, you see moments of vulnerability and a softness to her. She’s still a woman, but she’s a strong woman.
GARY MIEREANU: You didn’t record with Anthony LaPaglia, but you have played opposite our Lex Luthor previously. How was that experience?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I worked with Anthony LaPaglia some years back. I don’t know if he would remember me, but I did and episode of Without A Trace where I played an agoraphobic lesbian. Check it out. (she laughs) One of my better roles (laughs harder). I had scenes with Anthony LaPaglia where my character was stuck in a bowling alley. But not just stuck in the bowling alley, stuck underneath where they lift the pins. I had to lay under the machinery and Anthony’s character had to talk me out of it. Hopefully he’ll watch this and go, “That was that girl?” (laughs)
GARY MIEREANU: This was your maiden voyage in voiceovers for animation. Did it meet your expectations?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: It was kind of what I expected, and it was really fun. One thing you don’t get to do (in live-action) is say the line a couple different times with different ideas behind it. So it’s fun to actually get to experiment with all those choices all at once. I think it’s incredibly liberating to be able to go in and make three choices instead of one. And give them all equal time, and then let the director choose what they decide best suits the animation.
I think the enticement for voiceover is that you get to become a different person entirely. No one’s looking at your physicality, so you’re much more aware of your voice, and the power that your voice has. And it’s really learning to act in a very different way. If you love acting, which I do, it’s just another venue, another way to tell stories. And that’s exciting. I want to do more. This was fun. This was really fun.
GARY MIEREANU: Did you grow up with comic books or any of the current fanboy fascinations?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I grew up with my brother being a huge fan of comic books fan and sci-fi and fantasy. So even though I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on, it was always on the peripheral, just around the corner (laughs). I don’t know that I did sneak a look at my brother’s comic books. I don’t know that he would have let me. He was very protective of those.
But we played everything. My brother wants to be a director, and I’m an actress. So we played “Dungeons And Dragons” and “Top Secret” and all those things. We would get up and act everything out. We were oftentimes spies. There was a lot of James Bond spy stuff going on, and a lot of “Dungeons And Dragons” fantasy. To this day, I’m surrounded by the people who watch these things. My husband watches films like this. (laughs) You kidding me? This is my life. (laughs)
GARY MIEREANU: What is your impression of comic books?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I think not only are comic books incredible entertainment, but they’re great art. I got some comic books for my husband for Christmas during the first year we were together, and when you open the page you really have to retrain your mind to read a story in that format. It took me a few pages to sort of be able to look at the grand picture, and see this story and read in that style, and in the order that you’re supposed to read it. You’ve got to really train your mind to see everything. And it’s amazing, beautiful art.
GARY MIEREANU: With your days as Saffron on Firefly, you are obviously no stranger to the fanboys. What’s your best anecdote dealing with the fans?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: I have been to many, many Cons over the years, and it really has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Firefly opened up this world to me and it’s been absolutely amazing. Not only have I been able to travel to all these incredible places, but I’ve met people who are just so devoted and so excited about these projects, and really unite together.
I like the Cons because they’re places where everyone is into the same thing – it’s this family of people who completely understand one another, and a lot of them know each other because they’ll go from one Con to the other. I’ve been amazed that I’ll see someone in Scotland, and then I’ll see them in Texas. These people are passionate about it, and you don’t see that very many places. It’s really nice.
I’ve had a lot of weird questions (laughs), but for the most part everyone’s just incredibly respectful and really nice. I had someone make a Barbie of me from Firefly, and dressed it up and sent it to me.
The most fun was a contest to see who could write the best song about Saffron — and they asked me to be one of the judges. You could not believe how talented these people were. It was really fun to listen to – I still have the CD at home. Every once in a while I’ll put it in and be amazed. That was really cool.
GARY MIEREANU: You’re impressed with playing Lois Lane. How are those fanboy friends of yours reacting to you playing the role?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: During the recording session, my husband was sending me text messages all afternoon saying, “I love you, Lois Lane.” It’s so fun. My father, my brother, my husband, so many of my friends are gamers and into animation and comic books. So I’m going to be the most popular kid in town for at least a week. (laughs)
GARY MIEREANU: We’ve got you as Lois Lane. What do you think of casting Jon Hamm as Superman and John Slattery as Lex Luthor?
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: Awesome. Fantastic. Jon Hamm would be good as any superhero. He’s kind of a superhero now, right? Everyone wants to be Jon Hamm right now. (laughs) Don Draper is like a superhero gone bad. (laughs) And John Slattery would be a great Lex Luthor. He’s just an incredible actor – that guy can do anything. And he’s got a great voice. He’d be wonderful.
Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video, All-Star Superman is now available as a Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack and 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, as well as single disc DVD. The film is also available On Demand and for Download.