Check out the photos I took and article I wrote on John Slattery for Interview.
“Do you ever think there’s a difference between not saying something because there’s nothing to say and not saying something because there’s just too much?”
Such is the kind of question raised by writer/director Brian Savelson’s new film In Our Nature, an insightful drama that probes the delicate dynamics that shape our familial and romantic relationships. This question in particular is posed by Gil, played by John Slattery, best known for his tour-de-force performance as Roger Sterling on Mad Men.
As he does each week with Sterling, Slattery is able to imbue Gil with a raw depth with a mere turn of phrase. Here is an actor who is truly present in his character—and who is absolutely riveting to watch. In Our Nature explores the subjectivity of memory, particularly as it relates to Gil’s relationship with his estranged son, Seth (Zach Gilford). Thanks to a logistical error, Gil and Seth end up at a family vacation home with their respective girlfriends on the same weekend.
Throughout its course, the men are forced to confront long-buried aspects of their relationship—some of which they see very differently. “Memories are just stories we tell ourselves about our past; and that’s often why they don’t match when we’ve shared the same experiences with someone,” Slattery said when we caught up with him recently.
Slattery’s choice of emotionally complex roles like Gil and Roger Sterling isn’t surprising once you’ve spent some time with him. “I’m troubled that the most popular movies today are the ones that deal with the simplest form of human emotions,” Slattery confides. “When I was growing up, the top movies dealt with grown-up, complex emotions.”
(And despite his role as Tony Stark’s father, Howard, in Iron Man 2, he doesn’t have a soft spot for superheroes: “I don’t care about them enough to have a favorite.”)
Frank, straightforward, and thoughtful, Slattery is willing to own up to his shortcomings: “My wife tells me I need to learn to be more patient with my son,” he says. But as with his screen characters, it’s what Slattery leaves unsaid that speaks volumes. When we asked about his guilty pleasure, he laughed: “I’m not sharing.”
IN OUR NATURE IS OUT IN LIMITED RELEASE TODAY, DECEMBER 7.
Pete Campbell has taken a beating this season, both physically and emotionally. He’s been decked by three people, he was erased from his lover’s memory, and his “epic poem” of a commute is killing him. And yet his life, on the surface, has never sounded more perfect: He’s highly esteemed by clients, he has an adorably pudgy baby, and he’s married to a doting wife who showers him with care. He’s the quintessential character-you-love-to-hate — and also the character you feel curiously sad for. Vincent Kartheiser plays Pete to a T and has managed to turn his famous bitch face into one of the most reliably terrific reaction shots on the show. We talked to Kartheiser about the source of Pete’s angst, his physical transformation (he shaved his hairline and gained 25 pounds), and his favorite Pete Campbell expressions of all time.
How are you?
I’m good. I’m in rainy New York right now.
I’m here, too.
Is it rainy in the city?
I’m in Brooklyn. It’s pretty ugly.
Ugh, yeah I’m out on Long Island and it’s coming down.
Where on Long Island?
I actually don’t know. I’m shooting a movie and I slept all the way to set, so I don’t know.
And what movie set are you on right now?
It’s an independent film I’m doing. It’s untitled at this point. It has a title but I can’t tell you because I’m too embarrassed. We will come up with a title.
What kind of movie is it?
It’s like a brother’s keeper movie. It’s a story of two friends who are coming of age late in life, guys who’ve kind of been putting off taking responsibility in their life.
And you’re one of the friends?
Yeah, so they’re having to kind of force each other into adulthood and then come to terms with some of the things they’ve been putting off in their life. It’s fun. It’s a very different character from Pete Campbell.
Speaking of, congratulations on Pete making it out of season five alive. I think we were all a little worried for him.
Thank you very much.
I talked to Jared Harris last week and he said you both were worried for your characters this season. How afraid were you that Pete would commit suicide?
I guess you don’t really think about it too much. You deal with the script at hand. It’s a complex show that we’re making and there’s a lot of things you have to consider for every episode, so luckily for that you don’t have a lot of time to dwell on the what-ifs, you know?
I know the media started a suicide watch after “Signal 30,” because Pete is so beat down at the end of that episode.
Yeah, yeah, and I guess I had feelings that it probably wasn’t gonna go that way because it might have been a little too obvious.
It provides a little solace knowing that the show doesn’t usually take the obvious route?
Everyone’s been talking about how punchable Pete’s face is this season. Are you proud when you hear about his punchability, since that’s kind of the goal with his character?
[Laughs.] I’ve been hearing that my whole life. I just have one of those faces you just wanna rip to pieces. I don’t know if I’m proud, but I think it’s a testament to the writing over the last five years that they’ve built animosity in our audiences towards a character that has done some pretty despicable things and, at the same time, who has lived a life in a perfectly moral way. I think most people who are throwing those stones should take a look at their own life. I’m sure no one’s done quite as many despicable things in a row, but no one’s perfect. If I went into anyone’s closet, I’m sure I’d find something they don’t want us to know about.
A lot of people think Pete reached a despicable low for engineering the indecent proposal with Joan. Do you disagree?
I actually kind of do disagree, because she said yes, didn’t she? He was kind of right, you know? I mean, he kind of felt that she might say yes, they gave her a good offer, and most great businesses are built on a great crime and that wasn’t that heinous of a crime. It’s not a wonderful thing, but I think he really wanted that account and he really believed that that character could veto it. And like I said, I felt like if it was someone who he thought wouldn’t say yes, he wouldn’t have done it. And Lane and Roger were both kind of fine with it. They just didn’t wanna be the one to have to take it on their conscience.
Although I thought he might have misinterpreted her reaction — that you couldn’t afford her — when he asked how much it would cost. Her response could have been construed two different ways.
But he didn’t [misinterpret her]. He was right. He construed it correctly, so, you know, he was right.
Have you gotten any glares from women after that episode?
No, I haven’t. I’ve been in New York since it aired and I think people here tend to decipher between character and actor pretty well. But also I don’t really look that much like Pete Campbell. Right now I have a mustache and a full head of hair, and I lost about 25 pounds in February. It’s a lot easier to put it on than take it off.
Did you gain weight to play Pete or did you lose it for a different role?
At the beginning of the season, Matt said I was gonna have my hair shaved back and he said, you know, “Would you mind putting on some weight?” And I said, “Absolutely not.” And I just started eating like a pig.
He asked you to change your hair?
Yeah, I shaved my hairline back this season.
I was wondering about that. It looked different.
Yeah! Especially that last episode, they were really prominently displaying my bald spot.
I didn’t want to ask if your hairline was receding.
No, it’s not. Most of my friends were like, Dude, don’t do that, it might never come back in! But luckily I have a good head of hair.
Going back to your punchability: A big part of it comes down to Pete’s sneer, otherwise known as his bitch face. Do you work on that face in front of a mirror, or is it an expression you just use in daily life?
Actors don’t work on things in mirrors, I don’t think. You just play the moment, and Peter is bitter. Especially in relation to this girl. I’m thinking of that scene where she calls him and he’s so pissed and has that look on his face through it all, and he’s just very bitter. He feels like he’s being kind of used and abused and taken for granted. If you have those emotions inside of you, they come out on your face.
Do you feel like it comes out in your real life, too, or is it a look that you’ve worked on?
Well, Peter has specific mannerisms. And I’ve developed those through the five seasons we’ve shot. I fall into those more simply when I’m playing Peter. My sneer in real life is probably more subtle and less bitchy.
My colleague pointed out that Pete and Don are the same in a lot of ways. They’re both adulterers, they’ve both asked lovers to run away with them, they both love Peggy. So why do you think people like to hate on Pete so much more than Don?
Well, I think there’s the obvious thing which I’ve been saying since the first season, which is that [Don]’s charming and roguishly handsome and he says things in a way that is really cool and he’s usually sometimes cold but always kind of succinct and has cool one-liners. Whereas Pete kind of has this self-hating whininess about the way he kind of expels those emotions of his. And I think someone’s whiny petulance tends to make people cringe and dislike them.
Is it that Pete is entitled and Don isn’t?
I think Don does have an entitlement, and I think he does have a level of ego. The same level of ego. Don really feels entitled to his wife doing what he wants his wife to do at the time that he wants his wife to do it. And he also feels entitled to run the agency the way he wants to run it and he doesn’t have to listen to the other partners. And so I feel like there is that entitlement, but I think the audience forgives him that because he’s our protagonist.
Going to one of your last scenes in the finale, Trudy hops onboard with the Manhattan apartment idea. But I got the sense Pete was on the verge of finally accepting his suburban life. He was so defeated. Did you feel that, too?
Yeah, I mean, he kind of falls in love with this other woman and he falls in lust with her and he perceives some dream life with her in California or anywhere and then when that’s gone, the idea of going through that again with another woman or being hurt again by a woman I think has made him kind of feel like,Well I’m not gonna do that again, I’m gonna stick with what I’ve got. And he goes home to kind of be like, You’re steady, you’re always here for me and your love doesn’t hurt me or reject me. And he might be walking in with the goal of saying that, and he even does say, “I’ll come home, I’ll be home, I will, it will happen.” And she says, “No, that’s okay, [get] your apartment.” And I think he does feel a little uneasy like, Oh, okay, well maybe this isn’t consistent anymore. Maybe she’s about to reject me, too.
This has been such an unhappy season for Pete and you have such an eloquent monologue at the hospital. Did Matt Weiner sit you down early on to discuss the source of Pete’s constant dissatisfaction with life? What is this “permanent wound” Pete is talking about?
He did. At certain points he did. There was that scene with the skis, where he gets these skis and he realizes that the success and acknowledgment he’s been craving has arrived. It is in front of him in the form of his colleagues giving him business, and clients trying to reach out and impress him. And what Matt said was, “There it is, there’s the thing you wanted in life, and it doesn’t complete you. It doesn’t fulfill you. It’s not that great.” And whenever that happens in you life, you start looking for something else to complete you, at least Peter does, and that’s where his affair with this girl comes in: It’s okay, I’m not gonna feel complete through work, I don’t feel completed from fatherhood, I don’t feel completed from acknowledgment from my colleagues. Maybe love, maybe some new fling will give me that sense of fulfillment. And Matt said something really interesting. We did a panel last week and he said something about success, about how we look at success in our society and we think that’s easy. But success isn’t easy. Success is really hard and it’s painful, and it takes a lot out of you, and I think that’s a big part of it. You have to make a lot of sacrifices, sometimes do things you don’t wanna do and be a person you don’t wanna be. You have to maybe be a pimp or you have to maybe steal or you have to be ruthless, and those steps that get you to a place of success in your life, the things you have to do to get there, they change you. Just like Joan having sex to have her partnership. Well, that’s gonna be with her for always. She’ll get the success, but it comes at a price, and it’s not easy, it’s not simple, it’s not happy. It’s hard and it takes something from you. It alters you.
That’s certainly what happened to Lane. He was always trying hard for success.
Right. You don’t get the success without paying the price and that price is often your character or your integrity.
That’s a huge theme this season.
Absolutely. Like Jon [Hamm] with his successful marriage, or Peggy having to leave the people she loves to have success. It comes with a price.
I loved Don’s speech when he meets with Dow Chemical, where he asks, “What is happiness? It’s just another moment before you need more happiness.” I’m butchering the words, but —
That’s right. The scene I loved in the finale is the scene where he watches Megan in her screen test. I just thought there’s a scene with no dialogue. Just a man watching a video and she looked gorgeous in black and white and his face, I mean, I got shivers. The hair went up on the back of my neck just watching that performance. I thought it was brilliant.
Everyone keeps wondering when Pete and Peggy’s kid is going to resurface. Do you and Elisabeth Moss ever hypothesize about the baby’s whereabouts? Do you have theories?
Nope. We don’t. I mean, we really leave the plot points ambiguous because we’re always excited to see where it goes. You don’t wanna have hopes or expectations because, truthfully, Matt has such great ideas and we really trust him.
I love the scene where Joan brings her baby to the office and leaves him with Peggy and when Pete sees them he kind of stares at the carriage with a look that says, I hope that’s not mine.
Right. “What is that?” That’s the great thing about this show, is that just like in real life, you hardly ever think about those things and then they smack you in the face out of left field. It really mimics our real lives in that way. Just when you least expect — it’s like Beth showing up on the train in the last episode. He’s finally kind of over her, he’s finally kind of moving on, and then just like in real life, just when you finally get over someone, boom, they show up at a premiere or a screening and there they are, and you’re like, Oh shit, I just stopped thinking about this girl. And it’s kind of the same with the baby. You never, ever think about it. And then there’s a baby and it’s like, Oh shit, that’s right; that thing happened between me and this person.
What about Pete’s gun? Do you think Pete would ever be capable of killing someone down the line?
Like I said, I don’t hypothesize about any of those things, because we really trust Matt. I’m like everyone else, I’m a junkie for this show and I look forward to what he comes up with and I don’t wanna spoil it by trying to guess.
Just go with the ride.
Just go on the ride, man.
As a fellow Mad Men junkie, do you hope that Pete and Trudy ever get to dance again?
[Laughs.] Yeah, I love every scene I have with her. I’m always very excited when I know there’s a Trudy episode. We have great chemistry and she’s a great actress. So yeah, I love to do physical stuff. I love to dance and love to be in my body, so Matt thankfully writes a lot of stuff in for me like that. You know, physical comedy and falling and hitting myself and getting in fights — I had a lot of that this year. It’s something that I love to do and I’m so grateful that Matt writes it for me.
Though I’m a little worried about cranial trauma. He’s walked into a pillar, he’s been decked a few times.
[Laughs.] Who knows, maybe next year I’ll be a vegetable.
So many amazing expressions come out of Pete’s mouth. “Christ on a cracker” is my favorite. Do you have any favorites that you use in real life?
I really like “Hell’s bells, Trudy.” [Assuming Pete’s voice.] Hell’s bells, Trudy. I love “Christ on a cracker.” Or “a thing like that,” which I didn’t say this season, but there were three seasons in a row that I had a good ”a thing like that.” Yeah, or the line in the finale, “Well, I’m the president of the Howdy Doody circus army.” I really liked that line.
I liked “hot tooth” for Don’s toothache.
Oh yeah! It’s great because it totally describes when your tooth hurts, it feels hot.
I want to use that for everything. Hot tooth. Hot … ankle? Well, that doesn’t work as well as hot tooth.
"I got a hot ankle." Now you just sound conceited.
Over the past five seasons on Mad Men, Rich Sommer has come to be virtually identified with his character, the socially awkward but basically likable media head Harry Crane. At this point, it’s strange to see him in other shows and movies outside of the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. But we’d better get used to it. Sommer is in two movies at Tribeca: The Giant Mechanical Man, a romantic comedy-drama in which he co-stars with Jenna Fischer and Chris Messina, and Fairhaven, a small-town drama in which he also co-stars with Messina — and he’s finally getting a chance to show his range. He recently sat down with us to talk about his new movies, what he’d do with Harry Crane if he had the chance, and his notorious obsession with board games.
So, you and Chris Messina are in two movies in Tribeca together. Are you guys best friends now or something?
We actually did three movies last year, which is really weird. We’re also in Celeste and Jesse Forever. I did three independent movies last year, and he was in all of them. I did Mechanical Man because of Jenna [Fischer] and Lee [Kirk, who wrote and directed the movie], and then Chris was going off to do Fairhaven and said, “I’m going to do this other movie. One of the other guys dropped out, he’s unable to do it. Would you want to take a look at the script?” In Mechanical Man, our characters basically just have a handshake together, but I am such a fan of Chris’s work that even if the script had been terrible I would’ve done that second film.
All of these films have actors in key creative roles. Fairhaven was written and directed by actors, Celeste and Jesse was co-written by actors, and for Giant Mechanical Man, Jenna Fischer was involved very early on in the writing and development process. How is that different? Is it different?
It is definitely different, to some extent. Obviously, people would like these movies to sell and gain distribution and in turn make their money back and maybe turn a profit, but with creative people at the helm, it becomes more about the subject and substance of the film. That’s certainly true for all three of these films, but especially in Mechanical Man, in the way it’s brought together. It was a very collaborative environment. Jenna wasn’t the director, but she was involved very deeply from the very beginning. And Lee, who wrote and directed, has acted before. It was run all by people who were contributing throughout. It wasn’t about money. It was about heart and ideas and excitement, and that’s the key difference.
Your character in Fairhaven is wrestling with fatherhood, which I imagine you can relate to as well, being the father of young children.
Yeah, Messina and I improvised part of a conversation in the film about fatherhood. He asked, “How do you like being a dad?” I said, “I hate parts of being a dad, and I love parts of it.” It is a complicated thing that we do as fathers. There’s nothing better, but it’s also like you signed a lease with the worst roommate in the universe, who screams and throws things at you, and you can’t throw them out of the apartment. And they’re also super-litigious, so you can’t even talk back! A child is like a litigious, rageaholic roommate that you can’t kick out. And they’re on the payroll, too, for some reason!
Let’s talk about your character Harry Crane on Mad Men. Over these few seasons, I feel in some ways that he’s changed more than any of the other men on the show. He initially started off as comic relief, almost, but his arc feels more human now.
I love what they’ve done with Harry. But you know, if you look at an episode from early on in season one, and you look at an episode now, he certainly looks different — more than any other character on the show, maybe except Peggy — and carries himself differently, and speaks to Don and Roger differently than he did then. But I don’t necessarily feel like he’s that different as a person. I don’t think anything rings false with how they’re writing Harry now versus how they were writing him then. It’s because he’s on this TV train at the company, so he swings it around a little bit more. I think he would have swung it around a bit more back then, too, but he would have gotten fired. He just has a more important position now and has a little more leeway with what he can do.
So, if it were up to you, what would you have happen to Harry?
As an actor, I would like him to stay put and not go anywhere. [Laughs.] And I would like for him in the final episode of the final season to say, “Well, guys, I’m moving on to bigger and better things, bye!” But as a character, even though he’s socially dumb, and he makes mistakes and sticks his foot in his mouth, I would love for him to remain the lovable douchebag that he is. I hope he remains that way, but also keeps lucking into these things. I think eventually he’s going to run his own joint, for sure, whether it’s an ad agency, or a talent agency, or a power agency. I also would love for him to get a divorce — Jennifer is really bad for him. But who knows? I have no power over what happens to Harry. Whatever the opposite of power is, that’s what I have when it comes to that character and that show.
You’re also a huge board-game aficionado, and you maintain a blog where you write about and review games. How did you get started on games, and which one is your favorite?I got started when I was living in Cleveland. There was a board game store that was going out of business, and they were on deep, deep, deep discount. I had no money, and I wrote down the names of all these games and I went online to this site called boardgamegeek.com to research them, and I immediately got obsessed. I found the ones I wanted to buy; I went to the store and bought a couple of them. And I went from having those two games to now owning something like 375. My favorite is one that I’m sure you’ve never heard of. It’s called Die Macher, and it was designed by Karl-einz Schmiel in 1986, and it’s about the German political system. It takes five people to play, and each person represents a different political party, and you have a series of seven elections, and each election has, like, different parts. It’s intimidating, but it’s a beautiful game, and it’s intuitive, and it makes sense. It’s a lovely thing.
Which is your least favorite?
The Ungame. Which I had to play when I was seeing a shrink in fifth grade. It’s a game where you roll a dice and then it’s, like, “So, how do you feel about your mom?” It’s not a game. That’s why it’s called the Ungame. They pretend it’s a game just by putting it in a game box. It’s awful.
Where most people see the dressing room of a Soho clothing store, Alison Brie sees a stage with an open mike. “Oh, man, this would be my costume if I were playing a janitor in a mental institution,” says the actress, whipping open the curtain to reveal a dark sack of a dress with an unflattering bulge below the waist. “But there’s something about it I kind of dig. I’m considering it. For around the house only. And for when I’m doing a cleaning service on the side of a freeway.”
She returns to the fitting room and tries on the same dress, this time in a brick-colored pattern with little dogs on it. It’s just as ill-fitting, but Brie seems disappointed it doesn’t look worse: “Instead of being like, ‘Nope, this one’s a no,’ I’m like, ‘Check out why this sucks!’ Look. What is this? I can’t deal,” she says, turning to one side to accentuate the erect material near her crotch. “It’s like a fabric penis!”
Unlike the uptight characters she plays on two of TV’s most critically beloved shows—she’s Pete Campbell’s traditionalist wife, Trudy, on Mad Men, and prudish former Adderall addict Annie Edison on Community—Brie is bawdy, fun, and a little shameless. When I casually mention see-through tops, Brie rips open her jacket: She’s wearing one, with a neon-pink bra underneath. “Oh my gosh,” she says. “I’m all about seeing your bra through your clothes.”
She’s slightly truer to form in this month’s romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement, in which she plays Emily Blunt’s wacky, scene-stealing younger sister who gets knocked up and shotgun-married. But Brie insists, “Certain precautions can be taken to make sure that doesn’t happen. I am not as irresponsible as that character.” Also, while at the Sundance Film Festival for Save the Date, the other wedding comedy in which she appears this year, someone asked her and co-star Lizzy Caplan who would get married first. “Both of us were like, ‘Not it! Not it!,’ ” Brie says. “We’re on the same page about that.”
If you want to see Brie play herself, check YouTube: A video of her singing Hall & Oates’s “Rich Girl” with her newly formed band, the Girls (Who Sing Other People’s Songs), recently went viral, as did a clip of her expertly preparing an egg-salad sandwich with her feet while guest-hosting G4’s Attack of the Show (and then gamely nibbling leftovers off her co-host’s toes).
“I’m actually pretty good at doing stuff with my feet,” says Brie. “I shouldn’t say that in an interview, because foot-fetish people are going to get crazy.” She’s not kidding. “On Twitter they post pictures of my feet and ask what color my toenails are painted. It’s very flattering. I support foot fetishists. If that’s what you’re into, great. Great that you know that about yourself and you embrace it.”
Brie says both of her TV characters and the exasperated bride she plays in Save the Date are based in part on her older, perfectionist, financial-adviser sister, Lauren—“She’s like Martha Stewart; she hosts Thanksgiving at her house, and her place settings are amazing”—but more of her own up-for-anything personality has gradually seeped through. Mad Men’s newly suburban Trudy “really goes for the frumpiness,” she says. “I don’t think she sees it as a bad thing or like, ‘Wow, I really let myself go. I’d better bounce back.’ She’s discovering this other side to herself that she enjoys. Pete’s just not into it. Go figure.”
And Community’s Annie is finally giving up “operating with this whole mannequin guise of having it together when everything underneath is simmering and about to explode.” Now that she’s moved in with Abed (Danny Pudi) and Troy (Donald Glover), says Brie, “I feel like any progress Annie has made toward adulthood has been thwarted and she’s just regressing more and more each week. In a good way.”
Rather unsurprisingly, Brie’s acting training included work as a clown for children’s birthday parties while growing up in Pasadena. “I did balloon animals. I did characters. I did these games where you’d bring a ball and a parachute and a boom box and dance around. I was a super-fun clown,” she says. Then she attended the California Institute of the Arts, an experience she detailed in a widely blogged-about essay, about having sex with her best friend to determine whether he was really gay, for the 2010 book Worst Laid Plans: When Bad Sex Happens to Good People. “We still laugh about it,” she says. “He was like, ‘I never attempted sex with another woman ever again.’ And I was like, ‘You’re welcome.’ ”
Before she landed her part on Mad Men, Brie, 29, spent “three years being a total loser,” living at home and working as a receptionist at yoga studios. She moved into her own place a year ago, but even now the going’s not easy. Mad Men’s current fifth season was preceded by an unusually long hiatus and difficult contract negotiations between AMC and series creator Matthew Weiner that, for a time, left the show’s future in doubt. And Community’s third season came to a screeching halt last fall when NBC temporarily removed the series from its schedule. As Brie puts it, “I’ve cornered the market on shows that not many people watch, but the people that watch them love them intensely.”
Because of the delays, her two shows shot simultaneously, so Brie would sometimes have to run between both sets in the same day. “That’s when I’m most excited and feel like it’s all happening, you know what I mean?” she says. “I liked shooting at Mad Men and then going over to Community and literally taking my hair down. Because Community really feels like the parents are gone and we’re all just having crazy sleepovers and making blanket forts.”
Apart from a small role as a murder victim in Scream 4, Brie’s double shifts on TV have mostly kept her too busy to do movies. The Five-Year Engagement features, by far, her most prominent big-screen role. For the film, she had to learn to do a British accent by “stalking Emily Blunt like a psychopath and just standing near her and mumbling whatever she was saying.” She was so convincing that producer Judd Apatow didn’t realize she wasn’t English until someone pointed it out. “I was shocked, because I love her on Mad Men and I didn’t even make the connection,” he says.
Our shopping trip takes us down Broadway to Madewell, where Brie grabs a patchwork strapless bathing suit off a rack, promising, “If it’s awesome, I’m going to make you look at me in it! And it’s going to be awkward!” (It isn’t and she doesn’t.) Whenever she worries she’s taking too long in a dressing room, she shouts out, “Powering through! Powering through!” She ends up buying another see-through top.
Before that—attention, foot fetishists—she’d spent a good fifteen minutes agonizing over $10 packages of socks at Uniqlo. “All right. I realize you may not think this is the most important decision, but I’m not done looking at socks. Don’t be mad. I need another minute,” she said. “One’s striped and one is textured. Which one do I like more? I don’t know!” She picked both, then muttered, “What have I done?”
Q: Do you think of Lane as a rebel?
A: I think he excites himself with thinking that he is. He’s trying to be one of the boys, trying to live their lives, and fit in in that way.
Q: You re-watched Season 4 to get ready for Season 5. How did it strike you?
A: It’s so well-written… Such a massive amount of detail is put into the authenticity of every single character line’s progression. And if you dig down into it, you’ll discover answers to why Matt has you say things that are slightly strange. There are clues in the dialogue.
Q: There are a lot of group scenes in the office. Are those fun to shoot?
A: They’re great fun except for the conference room scenes. It’s just a pain in the ass to shoot around that table. You have to get sight-lines correct and then you have to figure out who’s on the right and who’s on the left. It’s really, really complicated to do and it takes a phenomenal amount of time.
Q: Have you ever kept a memento from the set?
A: Let’s see… I’ve got a Lane Pryce business card.
Q: Is it in your wallet?
A: No. It’s at home. I keep mementos from everything I’ve done. I’ve got my cab driver’s license from Happiness. I’ve got a pair of glasses and a belt buckle from playing John Lennon. I’ve got a pair of sunglasses from playing Andy Warhol… It’s all in a box in the garage.
Q: Having British theater training, do you think you approach your role differently than your American castmates?
A: Moving outside of your comfort zone is one thing I learned from my training as an actor in England… [English drama schools] put you in as many different plays as they can and you figure out which ones you have a natural affinity to and which ones you don’t, and why people succeed in the ones you don’t. Then you go to the pub with your classmates and you ask them, “How did you figure that out? “
Q: Do you think your classmates are surprised at the roles you’ve ended up playing?
A: Weirdly, the principal at my drama school said I would never be able to play a part like [Lane]… I had a problem in my mind about these guys, that they sort of had no balls and they weren’t real people. He said, “Unless you’re going to treat these people as being real people, then you’ll never really play them.”
Q: So the counter-cultural figures like John Lennon and Andy Warhol that you’ve played come more naturally to you?
A: Yeah… I wanted to be demonstrative and was basically looking to overact. [Laughs]
Q: Have you figured out how to have fun with a character like Lane?
A: The pressure is fantastic! For me, the pressure that’s created from holding all that stuff back, it’s something that really pays off on camera because you’re not having to hit the back of a hundred-seat house. The camera is right there and can capture all the internal conflicts of having to behave in that way.
IGN TV: Obviously, there was a longer break between seasons for everyone on the show. Did it take a bit more time to get back into the groove when you started shooting? Or is a Pete a pretty comfortable fit at this point?
Kartheiser: That’s a good question. You get nervous as you gear up to get going. You start to have those thoughts, “Can I do it, will I do it, should I do it? I should. I will. But can I?” Then you get the script, and you remember, “Oh, that’s right. It’s all in here.” Once the words come, then there’s the character. And that’s not true with a lot of writing, by the way. As an actor, lots of times you can’t tell anything about a character from the writing. This one, you can. The characters are so defined, they’re so unique. They all have a voice. It just fits.
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.
Christina Hendricks was being even cagier about season five of “Mad Men" than Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm. But with shorter answers I got to ask her a lot more questions. I got up close and personal with that bright red hair, even lovelier in person than in HD, when the cast of “Mad Men” met the Television Critics Association at a cocktail party earlier this year.
CraveOnline: Can we say what Joan is dealing with this year?
Christina Hendricks: I can’t really say. A lot though. A lot.
CraveOnline: What was the period of uncertainty like for you when you didn’t know if the show was coming back?
Christina Hendricks: It didn’t really feel like a period of uncertainty. It just felt like a long break.
CraveOnline: Is the Joan walk something you’re conscious of?
Christina Hendricks: Definitely not when I work. It’s just all the mannerisms, the way that we become these different characters, the voice changes a little bit and the walk changes a little bit and the way I use my hands changes a little bit. So it just happens when I go to work, but it seems to come up on interviews and on talk shows and things.
CraveOnline: Are you getting any nice juicy long passages of dialogue in season five?
Christina Hendricks: Long juicy passages? Yeah.
CraveOnline: I didn’t mean for that to be a spoiler.
Christina Hendricks: But I answered it with as much information as I’m allowed.
CraveOnline: A lot of people like to suggest you for Wonder Woman even though it’s not happening. Is that flattering for you?
Christina Hendricks: Sure! Wonder Woman’s great so yeah. It’s this really funny rumor that really picked up momentum and it’s incredibly flattering, but there’s no action behind it. [Laughs]
CraveOnline: You’ve been having a great film career. Are auditions easier now?
Christina Hendricks: Absolutely! Are you kidding me?
CraveOnline: So what is it like when you go read for someone now?
Christina Hendricks: The nice thing is a lot of people casting movies are fans of the show so that’s a nice start. You’ve already won them over a little bit with that and they’re rooting for you a little bit more so that’s nice. It’s very hard as an actress to walk into a room when no one knows who you are at all and try and convince them that you’re the answer to their problem.
CraveOnline: Have you ever run into the same casting director before and after “Mad Men?”
Christina Hendricks: Oh, all the time, yeah. All the time. They’re usually very nice and say congratulations and that they’re happy for us.
CraveOnline: Did you know when you were doing Drive that it was going to turn out as intense as it did?
Christina Hendricks: I didn’t know how people were going to respond to it. I knew it was going to be an intense movie because I had seen many other movies that the director had directed and intensity is his game.
CraveOnline: When you saw the slow motion shot of you in the car, what did you think of that shot?
Christina Hendricks: I thought it was great. I was clenching the chair. I think he does everything so beautifully that everything looks like a painting in some way. It’s so stylish and I knew to expect that of him so I was prepared to be wowed in that way.
Jessica Pare may sing on “Mad Men,” but she’s not about to reveal the show’s secrets. The Montreal native joined the cast of the critically acclaimed series (tonight at 10 p.m. on AMC) last season as Megan, Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) young secretary. Megan became engaged to the dashing ad man in the season finale.
In the 17 months between seasons, viewers wondered if Don would marry Megan and what role Pare would play in season five. Those questions were answered in last week’s premiere: Megan is the newest Mrs. Draper.
For Pare, who previously starred in the short-lived series “Jack & Bobby,” the role has been life-changing.
Her rendition of “Zou Bisou Bisou,” which Megan performed at a surprise party for Don, has been released as an iTunes download and on limited-edition vinyl.
“I’ve been doing this for 14 years and I cannot think of anything that I could do that would be as creatively fulfilling as the job that I’m doing now,” she said on a recent conference call with reporters.
Pare, 29, declined to reveal what kind of interaction Megan might have with Don’s ex-wife Betty (January Jones).
“I can’t speak too much to what’s going to come this season. But, yes, I worked a little bit with everyone,” she said.
“I love the Betty character so much. I think it’s just a great portrait of a woman in that era. And so, yes, I also hope that we’ll be seeing a lot more Betty and Megan.”
Viewers also learned in the premiere that Megan knows of Don’s past and she doesn’t seem to care.
“I really don’t think it makes a difference to the way she feels about him,” she said. “She accepts the whole person in front of her, and that’s part of the reason he is so happy with her. Because who doesn’t like that feeling?”
Even though Don is happier than viewers have ever seen him, the newlyweds quarreled and made up in a memorable scene last week.
“It’s not a show about people who have everything they want and are just happy,” she said. “So, obviously, there will be some friction between them. I think the seeds are pretty well sown in this first episode. Definitely, she is a lighter person. She has more light to her than most of the characters in the show. And there is a lot of sarcasm and darkness in his character. So we’ll definitely see some more of that, I’m sure.”
Women and men relate to Don in very different ways.
Jon Hamm talks about groupies and Don Draper’s politics.
Weiner’s OCD-style attention to detail is famous within the industry. Tales of him banishing pieces of fruit from the Mad Men set on the basis that they were too steroidal, or having researchers find out the weather on a specific long-gone day so he can decide whether or not to dress Don Draper in a raincoat, are just two examples. An early row with cable network AMC — which bought the show in 2007 — over the use of Helvetica on the original Mad Men poster is another. “Of course it had to be Helvetica,” shrugs a bemused Weiner. He will call meetings to canvass opinion on whether a Sixties air-hostess would have tan-lines or not and says he burst into tears after seeing Elizabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson, audition for the first time. He has in turn been described as obsessive (“Well that’s not an insult”), a control freak (“I don’t know how people function without being control freaks”) and angry (“Of course I’m filled with anger. Anybody who has my job should be filled with anger – and you don’t want to lose that”). Those who have worked alongside the director will agree that the success of Mad Men is — at least in part – down to all three character traits.