Yes, that really was our own Neve Campbell making sweet talk with Don Draper on Mad Men.
The Canadian-born actress, best known for her six-season stint on Party of Five and her ongoing role in the Scream movies, showed up unexpectedly in last night’s seventh-season opener of the Emmy-winning drama.
Even topped by that bouffant sixties-era hairstyle, those smoky brown eyes and come-hither expression were unmistakably Neve.
In Sunday night’s new season premiere, Campbell commanded immediate attention as the seatmate of central character Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, on a flight from Los Angeles to New York.
During the flight, Campbell’s character confided that she was a recent widow (she’s coming home after depositing her husband’s ashes at their final resting place) and that she might be amenable to getting to know the ad man a little better.
The flight ends with Campbell dozing peacefully with her head on Don’s shoulder, which she follows with a rather forward invitation to give him a ride home. Don, incredibly, declines her offer.
Born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, Campbell was that rare ingénue who enjoyed success in both TV and film throughout the nineties.
On the small screen, Campbell assumed the pivotal Party of Five role of Julia Salinger, eldest sister of a large family left orphaned when their parents are killed in an auto accident. The show ranked among Fox’s most-watched programs from 1994 to 2000.
In film, Campbell is best known for her role as the harried victim Sidney Prescott in all four editions of the Scream film franchise, with her most recent appearance in the 2011 feature Scream 4.
Early in her career, Campbell also essayed memorable film portrayals in The Craft (1996) and Wild Things (1998).
In recent years, Campbell sporadic acting appearances have included a two-episode stint on Grey’s Anatomy in 2012 and a lead role in the 2013 Lifetime original movie An Amish Murder.
But on last night’s Mad Men, Campbell, still a stunner at 40, was the one to watch.
In an interview published by Entertainment Weekly shortly after the Mad Men season opener aired on AMC, Campbell credited the surprise factor of her guest turn to series creator Matthew Weiner.
“He came down and gave me a big speech about the importance of keeping things hush on the show,” said Campbell. “And keeping things entertaining and fresh for the audience, which I completely respect, and how much they need people to not say a word. And then I had to sign a waiver as well.”
In the same interview, Campbell admits she was forced to audition for her guest role (“I have no ego about that”), and was fully encouraged to find her character’s backstory by Weiner and his writing team.
“I think you can only help an actor do a good job by coming up with the history of a character and helping to have that conversation with them,” said Campbell. “He was certainly very expressive about what he felt she was about, and who she was.”
Campbell also revealed her scenes were filmed over a two-day period on a faux airplane set and spoke admiringly of Hamm’s acting method.
“He’s so talented and he knows his character so well, and is very, very clear and so present in the character,” she said.
And kudos to EW correspondent Jeff Labrecque for taking note that even though Campbell’s fleeting Mad Men character wasn’t named in the episode, she was named in the closing credits – as “Lee Cabot” – which naturally suggests that she might reappear in the near future.
“You’re hilarious,” responded Campbell to her sly interviewer. “I’ve been instructed that I’m not allowed to talk about any future episodes, whether I’m in them or not …”
We appreciate Campbell’s request for discretion, but we’re going to consider her reappearance on Mad Men as a sure thing.
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