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Born and raised in Los Angeles, Moss has been acting since the age of six and working in series television more or less consistently since 1999, when she started appearing as presidential daughter Zoey Bartlett on The West Wing. Her extensive experience, including playing disfigured psychiatric patient Polly “Torch” Clark in the 1999 film Girl, Interrupted, has served her well. Over Mad Men’s three seasons, she has molded the character of Peggy into a quietly enrapturing female force, equal parts naïveté, smarts and determination—on a show ostensibly about men.
Not limited to the small screen, in 2008, Moss revealed substantial theatrical chops, going tête-à-tête with Jeremy Piven and Raúl Esparza in the revival of David Mamet’s
Speed-the-Plow on Broadway. As for her fishy castmate Piven, who left midrun claiming sushi-derived mercury poisoning, Moss refuses to see anything but the bright side of his departure. “You definitely want to work with people that want to be there.…And I got to work with [Piven’s three replacements] Norbert [Leo Butz], Jordan [Lage] and William H. Macy—like, when am I going to get to do a Mamet play on Broadway with William H. Macy?”
The past several awards seasons have also been good to Moss and her growing profile. This year, she won both Golden Globe and SAG awards in the television drama ensemble categories with her Mad Men co-stars. (The series is an award magnet, winning three consecutive Globes, two SAG awards and two Emmys since making its debut in 2007.) And last year, Moss was singled out. She was nominated for a SAG award, as well as a lead-actress Emmy, which pit her against the likes of Holly Hunter, Sally Field and Glenn Close, who took home the statue. “For me, to be recognized with the women I was with, who all have these huge careers, for me to be with them, I was like, Good, I’m done. I’m fine,” she says.
But her ambition has clearly not diminished in the least. Take her next project, the Judd Apatow–produced Get Him to the Greek, out June 11, which marks her first foray into bro-tastic comedy. Loosely based on Russell Brand’s outrageous character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the film focuses on a record label gopher (Jonah Hill) and his attempt to deliver an unruly rock star (Brand’s Aldous Snow) to Los Angeles’ Greek Theater for a gig. Moss plays Hill’s medical-resident girlfriend, Daphne. And if Apatowian women have been historically maligned—recall Knocked Up star Katherine Heigl’s reported complaints of the film’s shrewlike, humorless women—Moss sought to create the kind of relatable, strong female voice she did with Peggy. “It was very important to me to make sure that [Daphne] had a real place in the film and wasn’t just the girlfriend,” she says, “because I’m not interested in playing that. To me, that’s boring.”
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