Elisabeth Moss, <EM>Mad Men</EM> Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

She's quiet, yet occasionally lets slip some spunk. She favors a tepid homemade sandwich over a "fancy" lunch-cart nosh. And she really needs to start showing her pins. She's Mad Men's plucky Peggy, and TVGuide.com asked Elisabeth Moss (The West Wing, Invasion) to share a peek behind those bangs. Mad Men airs Thursdays at 10 pm/ET, on AMC.

TVGuide.com: How goes it playing poor Peggy?
Elisabeth Moss:
It goes good! [Laughs] We're all done with the first season, and it was good. I'm back in New York now.

TVGuide.com: Did you have any reservations about playing Peggy, who's not exactly the most glam gal in the steno pool?
Moss:
No, no... I liked that she was new to everything. Everybody has their specific, unique character. Christina [Hendricks] plays the voluptuous, attention-getting, red-dress-wearing character [Joan], and I like playing the one who's not so sure of herself. That's more interesting for me, personally.

TVGuide.com: Yeah, Peggy is sort of the "root for" female on the show....
Moss:
Exactly.

TVGuide.com: For you, what has been the most astounding realization about what life was like during the show's time period, the early '60s?
Moss:
Probably just the blatant sexism. I think there's obviously still sexism today, it's just different. The main difference is that there was a general acceptance of the way men would speak to you....

TVGuide.com: "Oh, that's Peggy, the new girl."
Moss:
Exactly. That would never, ever, ever fly today. A boss might think that or say it to his guy friends, but he'd never say it out loud to a girl.

TVGuide.com: Peggy is mild-mannered yet has these "ravenous" moments, like with Pete. What's behind that duality?
Moss:
I think her mild-manneredness is more a sense of trying to do what's right in the office and be a good employee. Peggy genuinely wants to be a good secretary to Don Draper. She wants to do a good job, and she loves working there, but she's also a young girl with the passions and excitements of a young girl in love. For me, it was really fun to play this girl who was trying to do her job and not get fired, and who has respect for her boss....

TVGuide.com: Even though she has overheard a phone call or two that might have "colored" her view of him.
Moss:
Exactly. That disillusioned her, but she still has respect for him as a boss. That, coupled with the disrespect that she is treated with by Pete, is interesting to play.

TVGuide.com: You mentioned the "L" word. Is Peggy in love with Pete?
Moss:
I think so, actually. Absolutely. She's 21, 22, and he might seem whatever to us now, but at the time [they first met] he was this handsome, dashing executive at her new job.

TVGuide.com: Pete [played by Vincent Kartheiser; see related Q&A] is another tough one to figure out, because on the surface he's this squeaky-clean, ambitious-businessman newlywed, yet privately he's dark and dealing with complicated thoughts.
Moss: Yeah. That's testament to the writing. That's why I feel so lucky to be on this show. Every single character has so much going on and nobody is allowed to play just one thing. It's so much fun.

TVGuide.com: It was a riot for my wife, who's in the ad biz, to see P.J. Clarke's pop up in last week's episode, because that's still a Midtown hangout for the "Mad Ave" crowd.
Moss:
Oh, yeah, totally! After our last night of filming the pilot in New York City last year, that's where we went. I used to date a guy in advertising, and it's right there in that whole area.

TVGuide.com: Last we saw, Peggy was getting the big chill from Pete. Do things warm over soon enough?
Moss:
Hmm... of course I can't actually say... but it's hard to bounce back from something like that. When I read that scene, I got chills. We never take the typical road, and the expected way to go was for them to have this torrid affair that lasts through the whole season. But I like that we didn't do that, and things don't work out with them right away. I can say that whatever does happen next is not typical.

TVGuide.com: Peggy aced the "Belle Jolie" assignment. Is another copywriting gig in her future?
Moss:
I can't say that either. But she's a smart girl, Peggy.

TVGuide.com: On ABC's Invasion, you must have had a lot of fun playing pregnant-with-an-alien-baby Christina.
Moss:
Yes, I had a great time! I was supposed to do just one episode, and then they came back and said they wanted me to do an arc, and I did four or five more. It was a blast.

TVGuide.com: Her pregnant belly did that whole funky, shape-shifting thing....
Moss:
Yeah.... Oh my god, I had to have a full body cast done [for that special effect]. I got to scream and just be totally crazy.

TVGuide.com: A far cry from West Wing first daughter Zoey Bartlet.
Moss:
[Laughs] A far cry indeed! It was awesome.

Go mad for more Mad Men with clips in our Online Video Guide.

The new Fall Preview: Returning Favorites issue of TV Guide offers in-depth coverage of 130 shows, including an exclusive with Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey. Try four risk-free issues now!

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.