'Mad Men' Season 6 interview: John Slattery on nudity, comic relief and the future of Roger and Joan
"[Jon] Hamm and I sit next to each other at these read-throughs and we're just cackling because it's so funny," Slattery said during a recent Los Angeles press day. "And then he'll point out how many jokes I have, and I'm like, 'Yeah, but look at the women sitting across the table who are playing the women that you're going to be in bed with.'"
But just like everyone else in the cast, don't expect Slattery to give up many details about what happens to Roger or any of the other characters in Season 6. "What sideburns?" he jokes in response to an innocent question about hairstyles in the season premiere. "I will neither confirm nor deny the existence of sideburns."
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With that in mind, here are a few highlights from a roundtable discussion with Slattery about the show (and a little bit about the new season).
On Roger not stopping (or having much reaction to) Joan sleeping with the Jaguar executive in Season 5...
John Slattery: "People were surprised that Roger didn't intervene. I think Joan's probably done the same for less before, you know? There was a flashback, I forget what season, with Roger and Joan where she -- you know, it's an affair but -- where he gives her a fur. This was just a moral transaction that everybody was aware of and then seemed that much worse.
"They've never really been overtly together anyway, so I think that for Roger it was like, what am I going to tell her not to do it? On what grounds? This is something that could set her up for the rest of her life, and again it's probably something that -- if those two are straight with each other, which they are most of the time -- you would say you've probably done this for something [less valuable], so I see why you would entertain the idea."
On whether or not Roger and Joan could end up together...
"They understand each other, as seen in a bunch of different scenes, but I don't think that means that they can live together -- or want to. I mean, who knows, there's a million reasons why you're not actually with the person you're meant to be with."
On the joy of Roger's frequent one-liners...
"I always feel like I'm in a comedy. With Roger, there's a lot of funny stuff. But as evidenced in the past and in the [Season 6 premiere], just when you think someone is one thing, it gets heavier or it gets lighter, or someone is capable of doing something that you didn't expect them to do. And I think that's what makes the show as good as it is. Just when you think that Roger's a prick who doesn't care about anybody, he cares about somebody. Or is just a misogynistic drunk, he's better at business than you think he is. It's just so unexpected. The storytelling is so good. So there's more of that coming."
On preparing for Roger's more emotional scenes...
"'Someone sobs.' That's a scary word to see on a page. [I think] 'F---, what day is that?' [If it says] 'He gets emotional,' I can do that. [But] sobs? You have to figure something out. You have to get it together, because it happens at, like, quarter of 11 on Tuesday, so by that time that's what you have to come up with, or it's a failure. I've had a couple of those over the years."
RELATED: Matthew Weiner talks "Mad Men" Season 6
On Roger's naked LSD trip in the Season 5 finale...
"It's almost as bad as 'sobs.' Or worse. I don't know which is worse. They don't ask you [if you're willing to do it]. That was me. I suppose you could [get a body double]. Or they could see your butt and then reshoot. [You'd see it and say] 'Wait a minute, that's not my ass.'
"You know, in those Lincoln commercials they did that. They've sliced the roof off the car, cameras pointing in over someone that has my color hair and is having his hands on the steering wheel and pressing buttons, intercut with me [talking]. And the dude's hands, his fingers were like E.T. fingers. I got more texts from people going, 'Are those your fingers?' And those were not my fingers. He had these big, long, weird fingers."
On how much about the storylines he knows in advance and if he learns any more when he directs episodes...
"I don't want to know anything. I think only Jon [Hamm] knows. None of us know anything. [When] you're sitting around the writers' room if you're directing one, some stuff will come up, but everybody is conditioned to silence -- the writers, everybody. Everybody's really secretive about it. I don't know what happens in the last two episodes of this season.
"[Even when you're directing] you will sometimes get a note that says, 'Feature this conversation. Make sure you cover this conversation because this person might prove significant next week' or whatever. Or 'this is a moment that leads up to something.' But very rarely will you get the whole puzzle."
Read more "Mad Men" Season 6 interviews with Jon Hamm and January Jones