[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
In Sunday night's episode of "Mad Men," beleaguered partner Lane Pryce, facing financial and professional ruin, took his life in a suicide that is likely to have a devastating impact on the agency. Via telephone from London, the veteran actor Jared Harris spoke to Show Tracker about Lane's untimely demise, how series creator Matthew Weiner broke the news to him, and what it's like to film his own death.
You must be doing a lot of talking today.
Just in the last hour or so. But I haven’t seen the episode yet.
They don’t send you screeners?
No, gosh, no.
So you haven’t seen yourself dead yet?
I saw it in the makeup trailer. That was me, what happened on that was me, we did some makeup tests. They did the makeup and I put a brown paper bag over my head and an umbrella so no one could know what I looked like. I went round the back, they hung me from the harness, and brought the actors over so their reaction is the first time they saw me.
Was that difficult for you to film?
For me I had to resist the temptation to sort of burst into song. I wanted to sit there and go, “Always look on the bright side of life.” You know?
Is it a relief for the secret to be out of the bag?
It is. I kept it secret from just about everybody, my agents, my managers. Matt [Weiner] very kindly made it possible for me to go and shoot this Spielberg film, “Lincoln,” while I was shooting those last three episodes. And he made it possible for me to do the press tour of “Sherlock Holmes” that was happening at the same time. Part of the understanding then was I would not go up for any of the new-season pilots because obviously then if I was under contract to a new show, people would realize something had happened. There was a very deliberate attempt to make sure it did not get out. I understood that from my point of view, it would obviously be beneficial to me if it was as big a surprise as possible.
Did Matthew Weiner warn you that this might be coming, or did you just find out when you read the script?
He told me after the Episode 10 read-through. After every read-through, he says to everyone, “Don’t run away, hang around, this is my last chance to talk to you.” He was working his way around the room, giving people notes. He kept on leaving me for last, and then once he spoke to everybody he said come up to my office. Now that is a bad sign. Then he offered me really expensive brandy. That was my second bad sign. And then he said, "I’ve got something to tell you." And I went, “Uh-oh.” And he went, “Yeah...”