Christina Hendricks, who plays the uber-secretary Joan Holloway in BBC Four’s Mad Men, talks red hair, knitting and Marilyn Monroe…

We’re loving the new series of Mad Men. Would you like to live in the 1960s?
“I’d never want to go back to the 1960s. I always thank God I live in 2009. Now women can dress in any way we like; we can be good mothers and also be the head of a corporation.”

Do you like Joan?
“I think Joan is ahead of her time. She is a career woman who is exceptional at her job, and you don’t find her victimised and crying in the bathroom like the other women. She is very aware of her powers and talents, whether it is her brain or her body. In 1962, she’s stuck behind a typewriter, but in 2009 she would be running the show.”

Have you learned anything from playing her?
“I have never played a character who is so confident. I’ve learned to embrace my figure and my age and feel beautiful, which is hard for a lot of women.”

Do you enjoy wearing 1960s clothes?
“The girdle and the undergarments are horrible, but make us look fabulous. They push everything into the right place.”

People have compared your curvy figure with Marilyn Monroe’s…
“I’m in love with Marilyn, so that makes me feel incredible. Whenever she is on screen in The Seven Year Itch, it’s magic. She’s like fireworks times a million.”

Have you ever worked as a secretary?
“No, but I was once a receptionist at a hair salon. I loved that job. It was nice to go to work and know what you were meant to do and to do it well. With acting, you show up on set feeling nervous and hoping you will do well.”

Have you had any other odd jobs?
“I worked at a shop helping guys rent tuxedos for weddings and proms. I was a punk rocker then and had black hair and big boots.”

How long have you been a redhead?
“Since I was 10. My mom dyed it for me the first time. I’ve had black and purple hair over the years, but I kept going back to red.”

How did you get into acting?
“I modelled around the world before moving to LA to take acting classes. I never felt like a model. It was a way for me to pay my bills.”

How do you pass your time on set?
“I do a lot of knitting. A lot of actresses knit. It started years ago with models knitting backstage at runways, drinking champagne…”