Thousands of fans will likely host theme parties to toast the long-awaited final episode of the obsessively watched Mad Men (airing this Sunday, May 17), but Christina Hendricks plans to bid a private adieu to her fiery-haired alter ego, Joan Harris. “I might be a mess,” she tells me over the phone from New York, where she recently moved from Los Angeles while her actor husband, Geoffrey Arend, shoots Madam Secretary.
Today, her peppy tone is positively Joan-like. “I have this sassy energy,” says Hendricks, who has just swapped her trademark fire-engine red mane for a pale strawberry blonde. “With the move and the show being done, I thought, why not change things up?” The decision was pure gold for Clairol, which snapped up Hendricks as its latest Nice ’n Easy spokesperson mid-winter. Hendricks sees the colour switch as a breakover of sorts—that slight-but-tangible identity shift people make to deal with the end of a relationship.
Naturally flaxen-haired, the actress first went carrot top at age 10, spurred by her love for Anne of Green Gables. It was the gateway hue to her dye-hard high school days in Virginia, when black, pink and purple carried her through teenhood’s highs and lows. (Fun fact: during those years, she worked part-time as a receptionist at a salon.) “Some people remember periods in their life by their age or who they were dating, but I go by what my hair was like,” Hendricks says. So R.I.P. Joan-red: “I’ve been with her for eight years now,” she says. “I want to know the next step in her life. But it ends here. It’s like a death, in a way.” This kind of loss may require more than a box of dye, so it’s a good thing Hendricks has plenty of distraction.
Dark Places, a thriller adapted from the novel by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn, will hit theatres this summer. The actress plays the murdered mother of Charlize Theron’s character in a series of flashbacks. She’ll also star alongside Luke Wilson and Imogen Poots in Roadies, a yet-to-be-scheduled TV pilot about a rock band’s crew, written and directed by Cameron Crowe and shot in Vancouver. Meanwhile, she’s filming The Neon Demon, a horror flick slated for 2016, starring Keanu Reeves, Elle Fanning and Jena Malone. Clearly, her post–Mad Men strategy is WWJD. “Joan dusts herself off and moves forward with strength,” says Hendricks. “I’ll try to take some of that with me.”