From Crime Queen to Fashion Fan, Christina Hendricks Wears Many Hats
You don’t have to throw a microphone very far to hit a fantasy in the film and TV industry. From the halls of Hogwarts to gardens as far and wide as Westeros and Mars, so many stories invoke that which we want—or want to imagine—but don’t have. Back on Earth, one such (grounded) fantasy is explored on Good Girls, an NBC crime dramedy starring Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman as three women involved in a good-girls-gone-bad scheme that starts to penetrate their fairly normal lives in ways at once exciting and horrifying. Unlike her messier TV-criminal predecessor, Nancy Botwin on Weeds, Christina Hendricks’s character, housewife Beth Boland, settles into a crime-adjacent life with the strategic ease of a mom who knows how to get shit done while the kids are asleep. Out of necessity, Boland is forced to wear many hats—human being, mother, wife, grocery store thief, sister, friend, “book club” member, money launderer… Clearly, she contains multitudes; we all do.
Hendricks, who we spoke to ahead of the Good Girls season three premiere on Sunday, February 16, is piling on the hats herself—literally, as in she collects them and they may or may not be taking over her house, but also as an actress, an aspiring director, a thoughtful social media novice, a supportive and loving colleague and friend, an enthusiastic fashion fan, a dog mom (shout-out to Triscuit), and more.
All red hair and red lips and maximalist prints on prints on prints, the real Hendricks is bold, her personality a reflection of the more-is-more perspective she applies to her aesthetic. As Boland, on the other hand, she exhibits peak quotidian comfort, her burgeoning criminal inclinations partially disguised by a placid soccer mom mask. Think cashmere pullovers; imagine bake sale cupcakes. In hat speak (stay with me here), if Hendricks is a fascinator, then Boland is a pom-pom beanie shoved in a brown leather tote alongside a grocery list, a report card, and hand lotion barely used but badly needed. Practical but can also hide your hair in a pinch.
Money laundering and handsome crime boss (Manny Montana as Rio, below) cavorting aside, Beth Boland offers a lesson in inspiration: Own your strengths. In her case, she happens to be really good at crime, which, as Hendricks tells us, just lends to the humor of the show. The actress welcomes the dose of confidence, sharing, “If you get to play that every single day, it definitely infuses into you.” She continues, “[Beth] was on autopilot for so long just thinking she was a good mother, she was a good wife, she was a good family organizer, and she just let herself be that and never get out of her lane. And all of a sudden this is making her feel good, and it makes her feel sexy and makes her feel scared, and it gives her adrenaline, and she’s embracing it.” (Anybody else want to volunteer as tribute?)
Despite all the bad things Hendricks and her co-stars get up to on the show—breaking many laws, disposing of a body, and all that—the real backstory of the series is how good these women are to each other. They always have each others’ backs, and their bond infuses into the show via their real-life friendships. “We’re always having fun,” Hendricks shares. “To spend every day with those women—we never stop laughing and we never run out of things to talk about.” Recent topics in their group chat include Cheer and 90 Day Fiancé. (Sounds like one of my group chats, to be honest.) In fact, her co-workers are what she likes most about working on this show. “I love Beth on her own,” Hendricks shares, “but the magic happens when we’re all together in a room and there’s chemistry with every actor. It’s just awesome.”
In some ways, all that on-set mirth could be a reaction to the stressful story lines—working with a crime boss on an illegal operation isn’t exactly a walk in the park. “Our whole bodies are tense during the day because we’re constantly in fear of getting caught or dying or something horrific happening,” Hendricks tells me. “If you want it to be believable, you have to go through those physical moments.” To cope, she works on lines for the next day during set breaks, which helps her prioritize getting enough sleep after a long workday. Then there’s the more physical side of self-care: “The three of us joke that we all have consternation headaches and we want production to start paying for massages,” she confesses while laughing.
Happily, Good Girls’ fashion provides some respite from stress. On wardrobe, Hendricks tells us, “It’s so much fun because where the costumes really lent themselves to the style and chicness of Mad Men and they were almost characters within themselves, which I loved, I love that here the costumes disappear. They’re flattering and they’re beautifully made pieces, so they just fall beautifully. I don’t have to think about them. I put them on, and I’m in them all day, and they’re not distracting. But they also define the character. It’s a very comfortable, workable look.”
Like many working women, Boland has a uniform: four pairs of jeans, 20 sweaters, 10 blouses, and that’s her “arsenal,” as Hendricks put it. She continues, “Beth can do anything in this power cashmere and jeans. It stretches; it moves. She can do crime; she can bake cookies. You’re going to see the same pieces over and over again because she’s a real woman with a real closet, so that’s really important to us.”
Aside from pilfering a few of her character’s perfectly fit sweaters from the set, Hendricks leans way chicer than Boland. “I probably come in [to work] in fancier outfits than Beth in the morning and then change into her more comfortable clothes,” she confides. “I love fashion. I love anything with lace and beading and anything Dries Van Noten or anything deco and fabulous and feminine.” Right now, she’s having a real Etro moment and told me, “I am so in love with all of its sort of bohemian, tapestry, rich, beautiful fabrics and its prints. I’m just kind of over the moon with it; more is more. I love clashing prints. I just think it’s so good.”
Another one of Hendricks’s loves? Hats! She’s lousy with them, apparently, telling me, “I have SO MANY hats. I have so many hats that I don’t have storage for them. I have hat trees. I have old vintage hat stands. It’s a problem, and I just keep buying more hats.” Many people shy away from this accessory and feel like they don’t have a hat face, whatever that means. But Hendricks disagrees. “I just think everyone looks good in hats,” she says, “and I feel like it makes every outfit more interesting and more elevated.”
I asked Hendricks about her hat because it came up on Twitter when I mentioned I was interviewing the actress. Not a native social media user herself, Hendricks is enjoying it more than she thought she would. She came to Instagram about a year ago and is intrigued by what other people choose to post. Her MO is thoughtful: “I sort of study it a little bit because it is a way to represent yourself and brand yourself in a way, but no one wants to feel like they’re looking at a brand because what’s the point?” she says. “The idea is to get to know you a little better. I’m really trying to do a good job of showing who I am as a person and keeping it interesting. But I’m still learning as I go.”
That means bringing up topics that don’t get asked about in interviews—like her lamp collection. She thinks it’s nice to talk about new things. As for top follows, Hendricks mentioned two: Amy Sedaris and Charlyne Yi. She’s a big fan of Yi, who shares poetry and art on the platform. “It always makes me feel better and always brings a smile to my face,” Hendricks says of her account. “It’s just like a little bit of magic. I love her.” (Yi is set to appear in season three of Good Girls.)
Another Twitter user wondered whether we’d see “Directed by Christina Hendricks” on an episode anytime soon. She’s interested, but, like many women, would like to educate herself some more before diving into new territory. “I like to be very, very prepared before I go into something,” shes says. “I just want to make sure that I really know what I’m doing. I respect the art form so much. I respect directors so much. I don’t want to go in there and just act like I know what I’m doing when I don’t. I’m getting there, but I want to make sure I’m really great.” I know the feeling, but I think we all could use a bit more of Beth Boland’s chutzpah. (According to recent LinkedIn research, when applying for new jobs, men only need to feel they meet 60% of the criteria, whereas women like to feel 100% prepared, which means they end up applying for fewer jobs. But once they do apply, women are more likely than men to get an offer! Ridiculous, I know.)
Then again, slow and steady wins the race, and I respect Hendricks’s hustle. She’s still working behind the scenes on the show, advocating alongside showrunner Jenna Bans to get updated artwork that doesn’t make Good Girls look like a family sitcom. It’s not. Hendricks actually has a message for people who maybe haven’t seen it yet: “It’s weird and smart and quirky and bizarre and doesn’t feel like a network show. It’s a little twist of weird. That’s why we’re so proud of it.”
And if you’ve been hooked from season one like I have, here’s a little teaser about season three: “I can definitely tell you that the story line will pick up directly; you will understand what happened very quickly, which I’m sure will be a comfort to many people.” Hat tip Christina Hendricks.
Speaking of good girls going bad, here, Jane Fonda cordially invites you to get arrested—for a good cause, of course.
Opening Image: Getty Images