Last night’s Mad Men TimesTalks panel featured creator Matthew Weiner and stars January Jones, Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Jared Harris, Christina Hendricks, and Vincent Kartheiser. It had a good host in New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff, but it didn’t have much to say about the long-awaited fifth season, which starts this Sunday. In fact, audience members were warned before the Q&A not to even mention it—and no one did. But among all the chat about past seasons, eight or so interesting Mad Men tidbits did reveal themselves.
For all five seasons, John Slattery (Roger Sterling) has appeared in a scene shot on the first day of filming.
John Slattery: I think I’ve worked every year on the first day — somewhere on that first day. This year it was me and Elisabeth Moss and Jon was directing. And we were looking at each other — I think I was supposed to be drunk — and I looked at her and said, “Are you nervous?” and she said, “I’m terrified.”
Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm (Don Draper) have a boozy lunch before commencing work on each new season.
Matthew Weiner: Once I’ve opened the writers’ room for a couple of weeks, and I feel like I’m on my feet, I will have lunch with Jon — which is actually not a superstition, it’s actually an important part of crafting the season. We usually go to a restaurant and neither of us remembers anything that happened. I’ve walked home from this place, that’s all I’m going to say.
The first scene Jon Hamm filmed as Don Draper required him to take his clothes off, and then put them immediately back on.
Jon Hamm: It was a scene with Mr. Slattery and myself where I had to walk into my office … take off my tie, take my shirt off, comb my hair, put two Alka-Seltzer in [a cup], drink the Alka-Seltzer, take a new shirt out, put the shirt on…
JS: Unwrap the shirt.
JH: …unwrap the shirt, button my shirt up, re-tie it, tuck it in, the whole thing, while saying what is essentially a three-page monologue.
JS: I had some lines. One of which was, “You missed a button.”
The plastic yellow cup that Don and Betty (January Jones) share a drink from at the end of last season’s finale cost roughly $150.
MW: She pulls out this toothbrush cup, which was an eBay item. I honestly think that cup ended up costing $150 to get to the set. But it was perfect. And the idea that there was one cup instead of two, and they were sharing it… in front of a box full of bathroom stuff, really made [the scene] work.
Never call Joan (Christina Hendricks) icy. She’s authoritarian.
Christina Hendricks: In the pilot she wasn’t really icy, she was bossy and wanted to be noticed and things like that. But I still wouldn’t call her icy, honestly.
MW: She’s an authority, that’s really what you’re saying. Christina can project that authority… It’s even in the show half the time. What do you do? Ask Joan. Don asks Joan. Joan knows what to do [or ] will have an answer that sounds pretty good.
The first scene young Kiernan Shipka read in her audition was the now iconic moment when Sally Draper ran through the house with a dry-cleaning bag over her head. Here are some other tidbits…
JH: The very strange thing about Kiernan is that she has been on our show longer than she has not been on our show in her life. It’s very strange. During the time we’ve had exactly one Sally Draper, we’ve had five Bobbys…
MW: I vet everything with her mom before the season obviously.… To prove what an actress she is, with all the stuff she had to do last season … all these incredibly very, very tense things, the only thing she sort of pushed back on a little bit was cutting her hair.
Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) needs a stuntman — at least for when his father pummels him.
Jared Harris: He broke that stick over the stuntman’s head. That wasn’t me.… I’d like to do it again if it’s going to be my legacy.
Don’t ask Matthew Weiner how the series is going to end.
MW: I’m being asked constantly, “How’s it gonna to end? How’s it gonna to end?” Can I just say, as a life philosophy, there’s a whole season you still haven’t seen yet? Let’s enjoy what’s going on right now.
Vincent Kartheiser: So how’s it gonna to end?
During the talk, Itzkoff mentioned that every member of the panel played a character who at one or more times was involved in a hush-hush relationship, extramarital or otherwise. Which of these illicit couples do you think are most likely to reconnect again in season 5?
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