Last night we had a chance to catch up with the Mad Men cast at a cocktail party in Los Angeles, and in true Mad Men fashion we drank Scotch on the rocks while bumming Lucky Strikes from nearby smokers. While everyone thronged around Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks), and Betty Draper (January Jones), we made a beeline for the triumvirate of Harry (Rich Sommer), Ken (Aaron Staton), and Paul (Michael Gladis). These guys make up the three musketeers of Sterling Cooper, and are often our own eyes and ears into the goings on at ground-level in an advertising agency in the 1960s.
Together they make up the “frat boys” of Mad Men. According to Rich Sommer, “They tried to call us the wolf pack or something like that in some of the marketing materials, but that didn’t really work. Now they’re referring to us as the frat boys or just, ‘the boys.’” Personally, I like to call them the Three Musketeers: Harry is the somewhat shy everyguy who is breaking out of his shell, Ken is the secret writer who isn’t quite sure he wants to be stuck at Sterling Cooper, and Paul is the bohemian badass who looks a lot like Orson Welles. If real work meant you’d get to hang out with guys like this, then people would never leave the office. Read on for the goods from each of them, and stay tuned for season three of Mad Men, starting August 16.
Rich Sommer (Harry Crane):
- On Harry last season: “It was pretty hard for me last year. I know that Harry is sort of the good guy in the office, and the hardest for me to stomach was when he didn’t bring Joan on as a member of the TV department. She was so good, but I knew it had to go that way story wise.”
- On Harry this season: “My hardest episode is yet to come. It’s pretty remarkable.” Does Harry still have an office mate? “Well, I know Harry didn’t really want him around, and maybe now that he’s head of the TV department, he’s been able to throw his weight around.”
- On Twitter: “Literally there are three of us who Twitter, me, Robert Morse (Bert Cooper), and Alison Brie who plays Trudy Campbell. Obviously I don’t say anything about the story, but I totally will Twitter about the show during filming breaks. It’s a lark, it’s fun. My online persona … part of the reason I do it is to be more out there. I don’t put personal info on Twitter.” You can follow him by adding @richsommer.
- On the SNL parody of Mad Men: “Loved it. The guy playing me was Bobby Monahan, who was a friend of mine from the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. I’d wanted to go to SNL since I was like seven years old. So I’m there, a friend is hosting, a friend is playing me in a show that I’m on … it was more than I could explain. Other than my wedding night, it was the best night of my life.”
- On watching the show on DVD: “Well, I just got the first two seasons on Blu-ray, because I just got a PS3 so now I have a Blu-ray player. The show looks fantastic in HD. I’ll go back and watch old episodes sometimes, but usually it’s because I’ll want to remember what it looked liked or what I did. Often shows will reference other episodes, so I’ll go back and look at those. But my wife and I have been watching it because we’re as big as fans as anyone.”
- What he did during the break: “I’m in a miniseries that’s airing right now called The Storm. The first half was last Sunday and the second half is this Sunday. Other than that, I’ll see what happens after this.”
- On gaming off-set: “We were lucky enough to go to the Infinity Ward studios and play the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and the multiplayer is just … amazing. I’m ready to get that thing and take it out of the package and put it in my Xbox and start playing. This year we’ve been playing on the Xbox 360 a lot, and we play online when we’re at home. We also play a lot of old-school stuff, a lot of backgammon, and a lot of two-handed card games and all that. I have around 220 board games at home, it’s a bit of an addiction. I don’t collect them to put them on shelves, I collect them to play them.”
- At one point a very tipsy Jim Caviezel drops by to congratulate Rich on the show, and to tell him how much he likes it. High praise indeed when Jesus himself stops by to tell you how much he likes your show.
Aaron Staton (Ken Cosgrove):
- On playing games on-set: “Like every day last year, but not so much this year, we were playing a lot of video games on set: a lot of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and World at War … a lot of Guitar Hero.”
- On the scripts: “I’ll tell you this … last Thursday we had a readthrough for the ninth episode. The readthrough was at 8:30pm, and we got the scripts at 3. Usually it’s a day or two in advance, but that was a bit tight.”
- On his character. Did he know Ken would be a writer when he read for the part? “No! And Matt Weiner didn’t know either. No one knew. We were all guest stars with the possibility of recurring. I remember we were all playing pool, Michael, Rich and myself, and Michael said ‘I hope to do four episodes.’ And then the show gets picked up and Matt Weiner calls us all a couple of days later and says, ‘I want you to be a part of this show.’ That was really great.”
- On Matt Weiner: “Matt doesn’t write anything down, he dictates everything, so he has all of our character’s voices in his head. At the readthroughs, that’s the first time he hears the actors saying the lines, and then usually he’ll speak with you afterwards about what’s going on with your character. Sometimes Matt will come down to the set and say ‘That’s not really what I’m thinking’ and steer you in another direction, or he’ll say ‘That’s not what I had in mind, but what you did was great.’ It’s an ongoing process.”
- On if the 1960s wardrobe is transformative: “Absolutely! There’s a lot of work that’s done for us before we get there, so to have all of that done for us and to have our hair put in place and everything, that just allows us to focus on our lines and our characters.”
- What else he’s working on: “With the strike and all, work has really slowed down. I hope with the next hiatus from the show, things will be a bit better. My wife and I were able to travel a bit and see a lot of family, and we also bought a house!”
Michael Gladis (Paul Kinsey):
- What he did during the break: “Mad Men is my only focus right now. I did a short film in Paris called Wink of the Eye.”
- Will we be seeing more of Paul this season? “I certainly hope so. The actors usually find out about three days before what’s going to happen with their characters. I haven’t been fired yet, so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.”
- Maybe we’ll find out more about his past with Joan? “I’d love to have some flashbacks or something like that. I certainly wouldn’t complain about that.”
- What attracted him to the show? “The writing. Definitely the writing. Without the writing it’s just a painted egg. That’s really it.”
- On this season: “I can’t say much about what we’ve filmed, but we’re about to get into the episodes where the shit really goes down. It’s what happens every year, episodes 11 and 12 are just intense.”
- Does he watch the show on DVD? “You know, once and a while I do. Not often. Because we all watch it together when they air, because that’s the first time we get to see it. But I rarely go back and watch them after that.”
- With all of the smoking on the show, are you a smoker in real life? “I was a pack a day Marboro Reds smoker for 16 years, and I quit five and a half months ago. So, before we started filming.
- On his plans for the break after the hiatus: “Well, the Mad Men cast will be descending on New York in October, since both Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss are getting married. So we’ll be doing that, and then hopefully I’ll be working!”
- On the SNL Mad Men spoof: “It’s funny, I just spoke with Bill Hader recently, and he said ‘Oh! If we’d known you were going to be there, we would have totally put you in! Next time you’re there, we’ll put you in!’ I’d be more than happy to be on SNL.”
- On his uncanny resemblance to the young (and very not-fat) Orson Welles: “It’s strange, I’ve always looked like him. Even when I was a kid. I was actually cast to play young Orson in a project, but that didn’t end up happening.”
- What do you guys do when you’re not on set? “We play a lot of video games. Rich Sommer and Aaron Staton got all of us playing video games because they got friendly with the folks at Microsoft and they gave me a free console. So now I mostly play a lot of Modern Warfare. In fact, that’s about all we play right now. I’m actually in this Xbox group that’s all Hollywood people, and we all play together.”
- On the new Prestige Edition of Modern Warfare 2, that comes with night vision goggles: “Which I have to get. I just want night vision goggles.”
Mad Men returns to AMC on Sunday, August 16 at 10/9c.