Mad Men may be a very serious show, but there’s still an element of fun among the cast when they’re on set. Hollywood.com hopped on a conference call with star John Slattery (Roger Sterling) to get the scoop on how the cast prepared for their long-awaited fifth season, and according to the dapper actor, some shenanigans played a part.
Slattery spoke about getting back into the swing of things when Mad Men production began three months later than usual, in August 2011, and Jon Hamm was taking his turn in the director’s chair. “The first scene I was with [Elisabeth] Moss and we were looking at each other and Jon Hamm was directing, and we were thinking of kind of punking him in one way or another,” said Slattery.
Unfortunately, Slattery and Moss’ whimsical idea was dashed by time constraints—after all, Slattery says it takes a while to “figure out smoking, drinking, and walking and talking at the same time”— but it’s the mischievous thought that counts, right? And as playful as he felt on set that day, Slattery fully respects his friend and co-star’s work behind the camera. “[Jon’s] really good at it…it’s like he’s been doing it forever,” he said.
But what about what’s coming up on the beloved series? Slattery teased a bit about the direction of Season Five as well his own character’s fate. When we last saw Roger Sterling, he was struggling against the weight of cultural change and buckling under the pressure, but he became a king of Madison Avenue by virtue of his advertising ingenuity, so he’s got to have the ability to persevere on some level, right? Slattery wouldn’t tip the scales in either direction, but added instead, “That’s what the season has a lot to do with is who decides to embrace that change culturally and who doesn’t, and it isn’t necessarily who you think it is.”
Of course, the big question is where Roger falls in that spectrum and Slattery dropped a few hints in discussing his character. “[Roger’s] made some rash decisions and then had to live with consequences, and so when we pick it up he’s lost his account and his marriage is not exactly paradise … and he’s in a competitive place and has to learn to remain successful … it’s not an easy place to remain indecisive,” said Slattery. No matter what happens, Roger is going to have to make a big decision.
But that’s as far as the actor would go, insisting that “Ultimately, it’s just a really well told story” and that we’ll have to wait and see. Still, he did offer one solid nugget of hope for rabid Mad Men fans: “We’ll take the audience by surprise,” he said. “I wish we could put cameras in people’s houses and see their reactions.” Though fans need no goading to remain utterly breathless in anticipation of March 25’s two-hour Season Five premiere, Slattery’s words are certainly hopeful icing on the cake.