Christina Hendricks had no idea what she was getting into when she decided to audition for Bad Santa 2, the followup to 2003’s dark Christmas caper Bad Santa. All she knew was that her friends had raved about Bad Santa for years, and that her husband and her manager were also big fans. But ultimately, it was the script that won the strawberry-blond actress over—that and the fact that she could get a little raunchy onscreen alongside Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates. “I read the script and I was blushing, even though I was by myself, because I couldn’t believe what I was reading,” Hendricks says.
Yahoo Style caught up with Hendricks ahead of Bad Santa 2’s Wednesday release to discuss her reaction to the peeping Toms who watched the filming of one of her more intimate scenes from their set-adjacent apartment, her family’s unique Christmas tradition of gifting each other bruised bananas, and why she would go back in time and tell her 20-year-old self to rock more short skirts while she had the legs to do so.
Yahoo Style: Was it fun to get a little scandalous and raunchy onscreen with the Bad Santa boys?
Christina Hendricks: Yeah! It was super fun. You just have to get rid of any inhibitions and just make it as raunchy and dirty and ugly and funny as it can be. An you just have to go for it.
Were there times where you were like, “I can’t believe this is coming out of my mouth?”
Oh yeah. “I can’t believe this is coming out of my mouth, and there are so many people watching me say it!”
How do you get through scenes, like the one where you are in the alley shacking up with Billy Bob, without laughing or dying of embarrassment?
Well, in the moment, you don’t think about it because you are in your head as the character. You are doing the scene and trying to make it as real and true as it can be. And then they go, “OK cut,” and you kind of look around and fix your hair. When we were shooting the scene in the alley, there were people who live in Montreal walking around, so it wasn’t just our crew. And there was a building up there with people pulling the shades aside and looking down. And I was like, “Billy! I can’t tell if they’ve got a cellphone or something. Are they recording us? That’s going to be on the Internet in a hot second.” Luckily they weren’t; they were just watching [Laughs]. But that was a little weird.
You gave them a free show.
Well, it’s in front of the crew. They know what’s going on here. They know what this movie is about. But pedestrians don’t!
It was fun to see you in your fancy charity co-founder attire for this character. And I could be mistaken, but I don’t remember seeing you in any pencil skirts this time around.
[Laughs]. Well I’ve done lots of other projects where I wore pants, but there is that one show where I wore a lot of dresses [Laughs]. But I do wear pants a lot in lots of things.
But you pull that look off so well. Do you feel that’s what stylists want to always throw you in at this point?
Well originally it was because of the 1950s; that was the silhouette. And then it just turns out that the look really suits my body type because it just accentuates the waist and the hips and all the right things. So I guess when you figure out what works for you, you stick with it. And probably once people have an idea or sort of an image of you, that’s what they recreate over and over. I certainly know that in magazines and things like that, they’ve always tried to gear that way, which is fine with me. I mean I must have 70 pencil skirts in my closet these days because I went, “Oh. The pencil skirt. I never thought about that! This is a perfect skirt.” So now I wear them all the time.
You made that look cool again. That has to be a weird feeling.
It was pretty cool when the show started getting popular, and we started seeing fashion lines inspired by the show and designers talking about the show. It was quite cool.
You’ve been a redhead since the age of 10. What do you love so much about rocking that hair color?
One, I’m so fair. I think it sort of brightens me up. I was always just very, very fair. And the women that I always thought were beautiful and admired how they looked always tended to be redheads. And I didn’t realize it for a while. I didn’t realize there was a trend. I think it just always made me feel a little different, or it was a way to set myself apart from other people.
Do you notice that your hair color brings out a different personality in you? Are redheads a little feistier?
I think every woman feels different the first week. Right? You do a haircut, you change your hair color, and you feel a little sassy. You change your outfit, and you start doing your makeup superfun, and then you just sort of settle back into normalcy.
You’ve said that being on Mad Men and working with its costume department really taught you how to wear clothes. What is your style like now post-Mad Men?
I think one thing that I learned the most from Mad Men — and I think I learned a lot — was (that costume designer) Janie Bryant was just brilliant about tailoring. I learned that you can buy a garment pretty much anywhere, and if you tailor it correctly, you will look like a million bucks. So I just now pay much more attention to fit. I still am attracted to the things I’ve always been attracted to. And even before the show, I sort of have had a tendency to fall for vintage fashion and things like that. It’s always been sort of my thing. But now I just take that romanticism and sort of whimsical thing that I liked, and I just make sure that it fits right.
So do you have a tailor on speed dial?
Yes! I do have a tailor, and I love her and we’re friends because I see her so often. I just think you have to be very aware of your figure because everyone is very different, and everyone has little places that they want to take in and let out, and you have to really know yourself.
Is anything off limits, or can you tailor anything?
I think I’ve conquered all garments at this point. Never a T-shirt. I’ve never done a T-shirt.
I’ve read that you said that your advice to girls in their 20s would to be rock short skirts while they have the legs…
That would have been my advice to me in my 20s! I had amazing legs in my 20s.
Did you not really wear a lot of skirts back then?
Some people would disagree with this, but I’ve always dressed quite modestly, even when I was quite young. I’ve always preferred a longer thing, and I’ve always loved turtlenecks and high-laced collars. I think it’s the Victorian in me. It’s the goth in me. So I’ve just never worn very skimpy clothes. But looking back, I probably should have!
Does your family have any unique holiday traditions?
My favorite food in the holidays is stuffing because it’s just the most delicious thing. But we do do one thing that I don’t think anyone else does. Every year in our stocking, everyone gets a banana with their name carved into it. So the night before, you take a pencil and just lightly do their name so it bruises and turns black by the next morning. And everyone gets their stocking, and that’s how you find which stocking is yours, because of the name. I think my parents started doing it when we were kids because they wanted us to have a healthy thing in the morning and not just eat candy and stuff on Christmas day. So we do banana stockings.
Who carves the bananas?
Whoever is filling the stockings. Santa!
Do you have a favorite Christmas movie — other than Bad Santa 2, of course?
It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s kind of a perfect movie as far as I’m concerned. It’s so romantic, and Jimmy Stewart is my all-time heartthrob. It’s just perfect in every way.