By Drew Mackie
Her time serving as Don Draper's assistant may have come to an end -- as a result of her sudden death in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce office -- but with her hilariously blunt one-liners, Randee Heller's character stood out in the most recent season of "Mad Men" nonetheless. Consequently, Miss Blankenship lives on, and her ghost will be haunting the 2011 Emmy Awards: Heller was nominated in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. Wonderwall spoke with Heller about her unforgettable role, the perks of working with Jon Hamm, and her life as an actress. (Did you realize she played Ralph Macchio's mom in "The Karate Kid"?)
Wonderwall: First up, congratulations on that Emmy nomination. What was your reaction?
Randee Heller: Surprise. It was 5:30 a.m. I wanted to get up and just see it and say, "OK, that's over with and then I won't see my name and it's off my plate and I don't have to fantasize or anything anymore." And I'm laying, scrolling with my iPhone, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling because there's so many categories and for some reason the guest is on the bottom after all the other folly and sound, and all of a sudden, I'm going, "What?" I saw my name and I freaked out. I'm going, "No, this can't be right. Let's check this out." And there it was. It was great.
WW: When you took the role, did you have an inkling that this is something you could knock out of the park? That this could be a great character?
RH: Yes. I came home from the first read-through, I went, "Oh my god, this is going to be good." I've been in the business over 40 years, and I don't think I've ever said that. Maybe once! I remember reading the "Karate Kid" script and saying, "Wow, that's a beautiful little script."
WW: How was working with Jon Hamm?
RH: He's adorable. He's great. First of all, he's extremely funny. You can't believe how gifted he is; he's just a natural funny guy and an incredible actor and very giving, very supportive and very there for you. It was a wonderful experience. It was great working with everybody on that set; that set was just the creme de la creme -- and I'm not just saying that. That's one of the reasons why it's such a hit. The writing is superb, the direction, everything about it is just gold. And Matt [Weiner, the show's creator] is such a visionary.
WW: What was your reaction when you found out where they were going to take Miss Blakenship at the end?
RH: I didn't know until, like, three days before, so first I went, "Uh oh," but then it took me not too long to say, "You know, it's really a perfect arc." You know any more would have been too much. Even though my fans wanted more, that was great, and I loved that.
WW: I know sometimes when actors take on a role, they envision a background for a character or maybe the writers will tell them a little bit about the character that doesn't make it to the show itself. Anything you can tell us about Ida?
RH: You mean besides being the queen of perversion? What's with that? Ida slept around that office. I mean she was quite the girl, but I didn't know that until like the third time I was on there. I didn't know, I'm going, "Get out! Ida was a tramp?" Sl-t! Ida was a sl-t. No, no, she had a good time. Obviously now it's a cobweb story, but she… yeah, Ida got around. But I think that her life changed quite a bit, you know. She never got married. She had a very active sex life but never wanted to marry, didn't want kids. Had a small social life, but her life was in that office, that's where she got her goodies.
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WW: Do you keep in touch with your "Karate Kid" co-star Ralph Macchio? He had his run on "Dancing With the Stars." Did you watch?
RH: We lost touch, you know. "The Karate Kid" was only 25 years ago! … But you know how they do that montage of [friends of the contestants]? I went on to wish him good luck, so I was there for his final performance. I hadn't seen him since we did "The Karate Kid," so it was awesome. He's such a nice guy, such a sweetheart, and he's got a lovely family, and we got a big hoot out of seeing each other. I thought he did a great job.
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WW: If you got your pick of any kind of role on any kind of show, what would you want to do and why?
RH: Actually, I tried out for "Glee" yesterday, and I would love to get that. … I'm a singer. That's how I started out -- as a singer -- so I would love to be able to be in something musical. I love to do comedy too. Any one of the good comedies that there are now -- just name 'em, I'll do 'em.
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