Actor John Slattery is directing this Sunday night’s installment of Mad Men. As regular viewers of the series know, Slattery plays the irrepressible advertising executive Roger Sterling. Roger is a World War II Navy veteran, husband, father, and founding partner of the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency. He’s a man who loves the chase. “Sometimes it doesn’t work out,” Roger says in season two. “Those are the stakes. But when it does work out, it’s like having that first cigarette. Your head gets all dizzy, your heart pounds, your knees go weak. Remember that?” After watching Roger over the past four seasons, one gets the sense that he may have secretly helped Hugh M. Hefner write the Playboy Philosophy.
Slattery is marred to actress Talia Balsam, who plays his now ex-wife, Mona, on the series. He lives in Manhattan—but as he’ll tell you, that’s where the similarities to Roger Sterling end.
This is Slattery’s first time directing since he got behind the camera to helm the “Blowing Smoke” episode from last season—that’s the one where Don Draper breaks ranks with Big Tobacco, signaling a deeply personal transition as well. I caught up with Slattery on the phone in New York where he told me that Sunday’s episode, entitled “Signal 30,” is equally as monumental in the life of Mad Men.