With Mad Men behind her, Kiernan Shipka, who played Sally Draper on the popular AMC drama, is moving on to new projects. One & Two, which you can sample in the exclusive trailer above, marks the 15-year-old actress’s first role since Men signed off. And like Sally in Men, Shipka’s character in One & Two, Eva, deals with some rough family circumstances. But that’s where the similarities end.
One & Two, opening in theaters and VOD Aug. 14, is a period drama about two siblings held captive by their father. Just as things seem hopeless they discover an unbelievable means of escape, enabling them to find relief — and eventually plot revenge.
An impressively eloquent Shipka spoke with Yahoo Movies recently about her new film role, her new career strategy, and college life. (Yes, Shipka is something of a wunderkind, already taking college courses!)
What drew you to One & Two?
It is actually the first project I did post-Mad Men. When I read the script, I was really intrigued because there were these gray areas, and I was just wanting to know more and more. I was very interested and captivated with the story. And then I talked to Andrew [Droz Palermo, writer-director] over Skype — he was actually in North Carolina at the time setting up for production. I just thought he had a really on-point vision. The film turned out to be very artful, too. I knew that Autumn Durald [Palo Alto] was involved. I knew she was going to be the cinematographer, which was huge for me because I’m a fan of her work. The whole thing just came together for me.
What were those gray areas for you?
It’s this mystery, this building thing. For me it’s about this familial bond. And you want to know more and more about what’s causing all these things. You tend to see exemplified in Zac [Timothée Chalamet] and Eva familial strength, which is one of the major themes of the film.
Like Sally in Mad Men, your character Eva in One & Two deals with serious familial drama. Why do you think this type of material suits you?
My characters have all been children [laughs], therefore having to deal with family issues — a common occurrence with characters in their teens. I think that characters and things with depth and drama and a very flawed, real interpretation is definitely something I’m totally drawn to.
This is your first project to come out after Mad Men. You’re such a beloved character on that show. Now that some time has passed since the finale, how are you feeling about it?
Very grateful that it happened [laughs].
Do you have a sense that fans are closely watching your next moves?
If people are paying attention to what I’m doing, that’s very cool. I hope I make good decisions!
You’re also in two upcoming movies that seem to be stretching you beyond dramatic fare — the comedy Fan Girl with Meg Ryan, in which you star, and then a horror movie called February. Was that the intention — to exercise more range?
It’s funny, the movies I’ve done since [Mad Men] have been one comedy, one drama, one horror, but I didn’t intentionally choose three different genres. That’s just how it all came about. As much as I love drama I love comedy too. If I could balance all those genres that I like, that’s the ideal situation.
What’s your level of interest in big studio films?
I’m absolutely interested in studio film. For me it’s all about where the material is — whether it be an independent film or a big production. It’s about working with great people and a good story and overall enjoying the experience.
How are you approaching your career right now? Do you plan to go to college? How would that affect your acting projects?
I’m actually doing courses online right now. College courses. So that’s the start of that. It started at the beginning of the year.
Have you technically graduated high school?
What’s interesting you in college so far?
I’m on my third course right now so I totally don’t know [yet] what I want to study. Right now it’s getting credits, learning new things, and taking different classes to see what I like.
What school is it through?
It’s an online program via a regular bricks-and-mortar school… [the University of] Michigan.
Jon Hamm recently gave his Mad Men spinoff idea — a show that focuses solely on Sally. Firstly, would you star in such a show? Secondly, have there been any real discussions around that idea? I think fans would flock to it.
Oh, I don’t think there will be a Sally show. I don’t know, though. I’m up for it! But, really, I don’t know. Jon’s idea was great.
I think so, too! Then we get to see her grow up in the 1970s.
Have you made peace with Mad Men, and completely retired Sally?
I totally have made peace with the show ending. I think the ending was — personally, as a fan, too — I think it was very very satisfying and I’m really happy and melancholy about the whole thing.
Ellar Coltrane from Boyhood told us he had a lot of funny encounters with fans, strangers who spoke to him as if they already knew him. Like him, we’ve seen you grow up before our eyes. Do you ever get fans who misperceive the line between reality and fiction?
Yeah. I’m definitely approached as Sally Draper a lot. A little less now that the show is over. There’s definitely that conversation of telling me how bad my family situation is [laughs]. And I say, “Yeah, but that’s not real life.” But I think it’s the ultimate honor that someone would be so into a character and love it so much that they feel that attachment. That’s super cool!
What’s your best memory from filming One & Two?
The whole One & Two filming experience was great. Some moments that stick out: For a large portion of the shoot we were filming at this place called Horne Creek Farm [a historical landmark in North Carolina]. It was being there with the rest of the cast and laughing and having fun and filming. … All the underwater stuff we did in an aquatic center and that was really cool to experience. It was all great.