Swilling martinis with the cast of 'Mad Men'
The famed 21 Club in midtown Manhattan is just the kind of place where Don and Roger would have met for a three-martini lunch, and so it was an evocative setting for the finale part for the fourth, wonderfully tumultuous season of “Mad Men.”
Show creator Matthew Weiner, along with cast members Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks and Cara Buono, and some 175 super-fans piled into the restaurant’s warm, dark wood interior for a night of cocktails and a boisterous screening of the jaw-dropping season finale. (For the record, Roger Sterling’s “Who?” got the biggest laughs of the night.) With the hotly anticipated finale only minutes away, the cast was as on message as ever. That is to say: Even after a few stiff drinks, their lips were sealed.
Cara Buono, who plays Dr. Faye Miller, Don’s spurned love interest, at least hinted that the finale was likely to cause a commotion. “I’m glad I’m going to be busy this next week,” said Buono, who was leaving the following morning to begin work on the independent film “The Discoverers.”
Elisabeth Moss also spoke to the fraught relationship between Joan and Peggy. “I think their relationship has come a long way. We knew they were never going to make it Laverne and Shirley,” she said. “What has developed is a mutual respect between them.” As for the much-discussed elevator confrontation, “I think Joan is right 100% of the time.” I had to ask Moss about “The Suitcase,” this season’s finest episode. “I was, needless to say, ecstatic to get that script,” Moss says. “It was existing in a bubble for a couple of weeks. It was a dream, and I am so proud of it.”
Christina Hendricks’ character, Joan, has had a bumpier ride this season. “She’s had a rough three seasons,” Hendricks joked, calling the tryst with Roger a “real doozie.” With Joan facing an uncertain future, what would Hendricks like to see for her character in Season 5? “I want her to get some of that sass back in her pants. She’s still got it, but it’s gotten harder to keep her head up high.” Joan, as capable as she is in the workplace, has never quite been able to ask for what she wants — as in Season 2, when she read scripts for Harry (Rich Sommer). “Poor Rich Sommer, people were yelling at him on the street, ‘You were mean to Joan!’ ” Hendricks said. “But I think so many of the things that make her strong, like being feminine, are also the things that hold her back.”
It had been a long week for the show’s biggest star, Jon Hamm, who on Thursday night reprised his role as the dimwitted Drew Baird in two live broadcasts of “30 Rock.” So could there be any chance of a “Mad Men” live show, I asked (mostly) in jest. “Never. There are way too many things that could go wrong.” Season 4 was all about Don’s downward spiral and eventual redemption — or flight from reality, depending on whom you ask. Was it difficult for Hamm to explore Don’s darker side? “It was a reckoning,” Hamm said. “There were a lot of challenging things to play, but again this is the fourth season that I’ve played this guy, so there is a familiarity there with the character.” Hamm believes that Don’s unraveling this season was actually a sign of his decency, not his duplicity.
“I think you have to be a psychopath to be able to tell that many lies and not have it affect you. And I don’t think Don’s a psychopath. I don’t think Don is evil.”
Try telling that to Faye.
— Meredith Blake
Photo: The cast of "Mad Men" season 4.
Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC