With Mad Men winding down to its completion as a series last night, we wanted to talk to one of the cast members today to get their perspective on things. And since Stephanie Drake, who portrayed Don’s scene-stealing secretary Meredith, was such a delight to talk to last year, we decided to look her up again to talk about the show.
Ahead, Stephanie gives us her day-after-finale thoughts, talks about her character’s pleasantly unexpected evolution and why she made an appearance in the finale, and tells us about the Mad Men finale party she attended last night.
UPROXX: Well, it’s the day after the finale. How do you feel?
Stephanie Drake: I’ve had moments of fighting tears all morning. I think it really hit me when I woke up. Looking back at how this role has really changed my life, it’s made me really emotional all day.
I saw on social media that you went to a Mad Men finale party last night. What was that like?
It was wonderful! It was not what I expected — it was more for the fans of the show than it was for us, which was great. The theater was absolutely gorgeous and it was filled with thousands of Mad Men fans, and getting to watch the final episode with people who truly love the show — it was so fun! Everyone laughed at my lines and I got a little bit of applause when Meredith left the screen. It was great. It was a great way to watch the episode and say goodbye at the same time.
How do you feel about the ending Meredith got last night?
I was actually told multiple times by Matt (Weiner) that Episode 12 would be my last episode, and I was just thankful to make it that far. And then I got a call saying that I was going to be in the last episode — oh my God, I was thrilled. I thought I was done.
Yeah, I thought the scene in which Meredith covers Don’s ass when Jim Hobart comes looking for him would be the last we’d see of her, and that would have been a great way for the character to go out.
Yeah, I know, that would have been a pretty fitting end for Meredith, so I was totally fine with it. I remember that day on set it was the last scene we shot. I said goodbye to everybody, I gave Jon (Hamm) a picture of the two of us — I really thought that was the end. So getting to come back was icing on the cake.
So how did that happen? Why did you get brought back for the finale?
Well, Matt told me that he wanted to do a scene in the finale that featured the three funniest people on the show. So it was me and Roger and Caroline. And I thought it was hilarious.
It was so great. I think that the line, “I translated your speech into Pig Latin” may go down as one of my favorite lines from the show.
(Laughs) I love that.
How do you feel about the way the show, overall, ended?
Well, I was at the final table read for the show, and I thought the way it ended was great. But then I started hearing all these rumors that what we read at the table read wasn’t how the show was actually going to end, so I didn’t know what to believe. I had an idea of how the show was going to end, obviously, but I didn’t know about the Coca-Cola ad at the very end. I did not know about that, but I thought it was wonderful.
I loved it, personally. I thought it was great.
Awwww, that’s good to hear.
Who did you see at the finale party? What was the consensus among the other cast members?
Everyone seemed in good spirits. I tried to talk to everyone, I talked to Lizzie (Elizabeth Moss) for a bit. I thought she was fantastic in last night’s episode. I saw Jon Hamm and we gave each other a big hug. Everyone was happy to see each other. It was a great night.
Was it emotional?
I was OK last night. I was on Cloud Nine. I mean, most parties I go to, people don’t know who I am. And then I go to this party last night and the amount of people who came up to me to say how much they loved Meredith, it was surreal.
Has it fully sunk in that you will probably be remembered by fans of this iconic show for years to come?
I think it’s starting to. I think that’s why I’ve been so teary-eyed all day. It’s so strange though, I had no idea this would turn in to what it did. When I was started on the show, I was not expecting the response my character has gotten. But then watching the last seven episodes, oh my God, Meredith was in them a pretty decent amount…It’s been an amazing few weeks.
When you and I last spoke, you said you had no idea how Meredith managed to keep a job at the firm, because she was such an incompetent ditz. But this season we saw her evolve into a loyal, competent and confident — sometimes even feisty — secretary. You have to be happy that Meredith was allowed to evolve and grow a bit and not just be a space-filler on the show.
Absolutely. I’m just so grateful for it. It seems like her relationship with Don kinda made her grow up.
She almost became a motherly figure to him, trying to help him keep it all together.
Yeah, she was. Totally.
So what’s next for Stephanie Drake?
I wish I knew! I’m back to auditioning and hoping to find the next great part for me.
Back to the grind, eh?
Back to the grind, yes.
Well, you never know — AMC could always launch a Meredith spin-off! Stranger things have happened.
I would love that, obviously.