What would Joan do?

A: The element of surprise, when you have to do it over and over and over again, I find that difficult. I just worked on a movie that John Slattery (who plays Roger Sterling on "Mad Men") directed, and I was doing a scene with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and I had to walk in and find him laying in a bed and not expect him there and be terrified, so I went to John and I said, "Listen, make sure we really get these first two or three takes because it's going to start to seem rehearsed after that," and he was like, "OK." And we got it right away, and I think we just did two takes, but I was worried about having to recreate that element of surprise when you know perfectly well they're there.

Q: "Mad Men" begins shooting again in November?

A: In November, yeah. Last season.

Q: It's the end of the '60s. So what do you think Joan would be like in the '70s? You could make that up.

A: Well, that's what I'm going to do when the show wraps. I'm just going to stay at home and write little scenarios for Joan because I just miss her. (Laughs.)

Q: Make it a spinoff, like "Frasier."

A: "Joan, the '70s: A Memoir."

Q: What do you think she does in the '70s?

A: Gosh, I would never guess what Joan would be doing. I think she would be doing more of the same, probably higher in the ranks at work, trying to be the best mother she could be, hopefully finding love. Hopefully.

Q: I just read that you'll be co-starring in the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn's "Dark Places." When is that shooting?

A: I'm going to go next week. I'm going to go out to Louisiana and shoot that. I'm very excited to work with Gilles (Paquet-Brenner) the director and to work with Charlize Theron, who I am a huge, huge fan of, and very nervous to meet but excited.

Q: Who are the actresses or actors whose careers you really admire?

A. Julianne Moore. I think she's had a really extraordinary career and been able to play roles that have an extraordinary range. I think Scarlett Johansson has had a really interesting career, doing period pieces to doing Woody Allen to doing action. She really seems to have been able to do everything, which I think is really great. And, you know, Meryl Streep. Give me a break. (Laughs.)

Q: Are there any types of roles that you'd love to get that you're not getting at this point?

A: Oh, I've put it out there: If Woody Allen doesn't know I'm knocking on his door then (laughs) — I would love to do something like that. That's the kind of thing I really enjoy watching. I like to work on things that I would really love to watch.

Q: Serious Woody or funny Woody, or does it not matter?

A: Doesn't really matter.

Q: If you could change one thing about the entertainment business, what would it be?

A: I wish that money didn't affect artistic freedom so much.

(Spoiler alert ahead for anyone who hasn't seen the 2011 movie "Drive" and still wants to.)

Q: Was it weird watching your head get blown off in "Drive"?

A: It was awesome watching my head get blown off. Because I know what went into it, and I'm so impressed with how they can make that look so real. It's so amazing. The funny thing is I took my brother to the premiere, and he loved the movie, and then when it came out a few weeks later, he took my father to see it, and my brother came back and he goes, "They changed it! Your head gets blown off in this one!" And I said, "My head always got blown off." And he was like, "I must have blocked it out." Because he was a very protective big brother …

Q: Did they create your head?

A: They did. I did an entire cast of my head. And then when we shot it, I went up to the mirror, and I stood there, and there was a guy with an air gun, which is pretty powerful, by the way. It's a scary feeling. It's loud, and it hits you like (jerks head) — so there was a shower stall here, and it was filled with pads, and they would blow this air gun at me, and I would react and fall into the shower. And then they went back and somehow blew up my head. (Laughs.)

mcaro@tribune.com

Twitter @MarkCaro

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