18 things we learned from the 'Mad Men' PaleyFest panel
LOS ANGELES—The final season of “Mad Men” launches April 13 on AMC. And while none of the actors would dare give even a hint of what was to come with their characters during the show’s PaleyFest session March 21 at the Dolby Theater here (show creator Matthew Weiner has trained them well), they revealed a great deal about how they feel as the show winds down. And they’re just as sad about it coming to an end as the rest of us.
Taking a cue from “Breaking Bad,” the first part of Season 7 will air this April and May, and then fans will have to wait until April 2015 to see the final seven episodes. The cast has finished shooting the first flight of episodes and will resume shooting the final seven next Friday, March 28.
Participating on the panel were Jon Hamm (Don Draper), Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell), Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson), Christina Hendricks (Joan Harris), Robert Morse (Bertram Cooper), Jessica Pare (Megan Draper) and Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper). Hitfix talked to each of them on the red carpet as well. Those interviews will start posting on Saturday.
The warmth between the cast members was clear, especially between Moss and Kartheiser as they giggled and grinned at each other throughout much of the panel. Weiner walked the red carpet and sat in the audience, but didn’t participate in the panel, moderated by TV Guide’s Michael Schneider.
Prior to the panel discussion, PaleyFest screened the Season 6 finale, which left Draper’s future at Sterling Cooper & Partners (SC&P) in jeopardy as his partners decide he needs to take a long break from work after he botches the Hershey account.
Here are 18 things we learned about “Mad Men” as we take a very deep dive into the evening:
1. The cast feels very sad right now: “I think we’re in some phase of grief right now,” Hamm said. “It’s probably denial. I think we are collectively starting to realize the end is coming faster than we thought it was. There’s nothing to prepare to for it. My operating agenda is have as much fun as we’ve always had making the show until we can’t make it anymore.” Pare confessed that she cries “every day,” thinking about the show’s end. Moss admitted she felt “a boulder in her chest” as the realization that the end was coming. But before it got too heavy, she joked, “It’s starting to sink in that we’re saying goodbye to our work and our characters, but also to this family. I don’t plan on ever seeing any of these people again.” And then there’s Shipka, who really put it into perspective: “I’ve been on the show longer than I haven’t, which is so weird to think about,” said the 14 year old.
2. It wasn’t easy for Hamm to play the “Hershey” pitch scene: In the final episode of Season 6, Draper confesses during the Hershey pitch that he grew up very poor in a whorehouse, much to the shock of Hershey execs and his co-workers. It’s the most honest he’s ever been in his workplace: “It in way, Don was trying to process his life and his place in his life and his job,” Hamm said. “For whatever reason, it was a completely honest moment, like ‘I’m going to try this. Maybe it will be a step in the right direction,’ and it was a step in the opposite direction. It was hard to do because it was unlike any kind of Don we’ve seen in the office, so it was a challenge.”
3. Megan sure sees Don very differently than the rest of us: “Megan takes it for granted that she can have everything. She can have a career and family and a husband that loves her and supports her. I think Don wants to be that man, he wants her to have what she wants as well, but it’s not an easy switch to flip,” said Pare. “I think Megan sees Don in a light that no one else sees him. She thinks he’s charming and funny and warm and sexy and these are not things that people in the office see in him. Maybe it’s naive, but I prefer to think of it as optimistic.”
4. Elisabeth Moss is a fan of “The Apartment": Moss made a delightful reference to the movie when she was asked if Peggy would have been happy remaining romantically involved with her boss, Ted Chaough. “Not with him married,” Moss said. “She believes in the best in people. She’s young, she fell in love, and that’s all she saw. I don’t think Ted misled her. I think he thought he was going to leave his wife, but that’s the way it crumbles, cookie wise,” said Moss, intentionally quoting CC Baxter from “The Apartment.”
5. Joan wants Roger in their son’s life, but who knows if it will work: As Season 6 ended, Roger spent Thanksgiving with Joan (and Bob Benson), as he tried to form a relationship with his and Joan’s secret son, Kevin. “Many of her decisions she’s made have been to take care of [Kevin] and protect her family, fiercely protect them,” Hendricks said. “She has feelings and a deep history with Roger. [She’s thinking], ‘What’s best for my son? Can I open it up to a more modern situation? Can we figure this out?’ We’ve just opened that door, so we don’t know where it will lead.”
6. Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks love their scenes together: “They are always some of my favorite scenes to do,” Moss said. “It’s true that we don’t get them very often, it’s like these two planets orbiting each other and they collide during these main events. Joan is always going to be smarter than Peggy, but I think she has a respect for the path that Peggy has taken. Matt said they were never going to be roommates, they’re not going to be necessarily friends. It’s a different relationship, but it’s a strong and interesting one.”