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23 Things You Probably Didn't Know About "Mad Men," According To The Cast And Creator

Roger was going to die in Season 1?!

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We're just two weeks away from the debut of Mad Men's final seven episodes and in honor of "the end of an era," stars John Slattery (Roger Sterling), Jon Hamm (Don Draper), January Jones (Betty Francis), Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway), and creator Matt Weiner gathered for a Film Society event at Lincoln Center in New York City on March 21. They looked back on some of their favorite moments and revealed things from six seasons' worth of drama that many fans probably don't know.
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We're just two weeks away from the debut of Mad Men's final seven episodes and in honor of "the end of an era," stars John Slattery (Roger Sterling), Jon Hamm (Don Draper), January Jones (Betty Francis), Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway), and creator Matt Weiner gathered for a Film Society event at Lincoln Center in New York City on March 21. They looked back on some of their favorite moments and revealed things from six seasons' worth of drama that many fans probably don't know.

1. Hendricks was so nervous on her first day of shooting, her hand shook while she tried to light a cigarette in her first scene.

"I remember being so scared about this scene," she said. "I bet if you look very, very closely, my hand was shaking. I was so nervous lighting that cigarette ... And these old-fashioned lighters do not always light."

2. And Joan's signature walk originated because of Hendricks' struggle to move in her constricting dress.


"It was that dress that sort of created the Joan walk, because it was literally just me trying to get from one side of the room to the other," she said with a laugh.

3. Weiner wanted to avoid mimicking Aaron Sorkin's signature "walk and talk" in the pilot.


"That is really the most movement there is in the show," he said of the scene with Joan showing Peggy around. "In between when I had written the pilot and when we made it, in that seven years, The West Wing had come on the air. And I was very wary about this whole walk-and-talk sort of vibe. And I had you guys slow down a lot and I said, 'Nobody talk without looking at each other' — not realizing how hard it is to walk toward things without looking at each other … It felt more realistic."

4. Everyone makes fun of the way Aaron Staton (Ken Cosgrove) smokes.

AMC / Via

"I had a rule that no one could fake-smoke on the set if they'd never smoked," Weiner said, fearing their naiveté would show on screen. "I made the horrible mistake with Aaron Staton, where I was like, you have never smoked before. You look terrible at it. And he was like, actually I did smoke for, like, 10 years. And I was like, like that? Like a douchebag? He's the sweetest person in the world and he still brings it up. He goes, 'Remember that time you told me I smoked like a douchebag?'" Staton still smokes "like a douchebag" for consistency purposes. "You can see them sort of giving him a hard time in the scene … you can actually see it," Weiner said of the rest of the cast when filming a smoking scene with Staton.

5. Roger was almost killed off in Season 1.

AMC / Via

"The only thing that's ever been reversed is that I did think that Roger Sterling was going to die in the first season," Weiner said. "John had another job, and I didn't know if he wanted to stay with the show."

6. It wasn’t Weiner’s idea to cast his son Marten as the Drapers' neighbor, Glen Bishop. In fact, he was very wary.


"It was the idea of one of the other writers, Tom Palmer," Weiner said. "So that was part of how I sort of washed my hands of it." His son auditioned for the role, but Weiner was unsure. "He had such a such innocent, detached, non-trained actor quality... I was like, can you tell if he's good or not? And my casting director's like, don't do it. This is before we even knew what would happen on the internet. Regular people in the school play don't have to read their kid's awful or ugly … But I felt like he was the right person for it. He actually had a natural gift for it."

7. And he did not get special treatment.


While filming this scene between Betty and Glen in the Season 1 finale, the temperature reached 105 degrees, Weiner said, even though it had to look like winter. "I was very concerned about January being overwhelmed by the heat … and all of a sudden, I was like, holy shit, my kid's in that car," he remembered with a laugh. "So I went over there and I was like, are you OK, Marten? And he's like, can I take off the snow pants?"

8. He also refused to get close to January Jones during one of their first scenes.


"He was supposed to hug you and put his head on your chest at the big moment when you forgave him or whatever after he cried," Weiner said, looking at Jones, referring to the scene after Glen walks in on Betty in the bathroom. "And he really didn't want to do it. And I finally said to him, I was like … you're gonna be really sorry one day." Still, Marten wasn't convinced. "And he is sorry," Jones joked of the now 18-year-old actor.

9. Slattery and Jones had fun filming the moment when Roger hits on Betty.


"We giggled our way through that whole entire scene," Jones said.

10. Weiner intentionally told Slattery about Roger's blackface episode at a party.


"Every year, we have kind of a kick-off-the-season, everybody-comes-back-in-town get together, and Matt has been writing for a couple of months and he's very excited about whatever it is he's working on that day. And despite his renowned secrecy, he'll tell you everything that's in his head right then and you just try to keep up," Slattery explained. "I'm standing there and I'm about to leave and he goes, 'Wait a minute. You're gonna sing 'My Old Kentucky Home' in blackface at a country club on Derby Day.' I'm like, great. I gotta go. Bye. And later, I'm thinking, What the fuck?"

Weiner admitted to Slattery that his timing was intentional. "I will say, I'm not a good actor in any way, but that was a calculated decision to tell you at that moment, to break the news that way," he said, smiling.

11. And some of the writers didn't want to be associated with it.


"I think that that scene takes place in 1963, and blackface was not removed at least from the Philadelphia police parade until 1968 or something. And that episode was so much about white people, what they're like when they're alone," Weiner explained.

"There was a lot of discussion in the writers' room too. We had a lot of new writers, who were kind of like, we can't do this," the creator said. When asked by moderator Chuck Klosterman if there were "any writers who...," Weiner immediately chimed in and said, "Like, they didn't want their names on the story? Yeah."

But, he added, he thought it was "well-established that this was part of the framework of that time and it was so clear that we were criticizing it, but we had to live through doing it to criticize it," pointing to Don and Pete's reactions during Roger's performance.

12. Slattery thought it could end his career.


"I remember I called you and said, 'Would you do this?'" Slattery said, referring to Hamm. "We did tests, taking pictures of me sitting in front of mirror," he remembered, gesturing awkwardly. "Like, is this the way it's supposed to look?" And, as Weiner recalled to Slattery, "You did say when we were doing it, 'This is the last day of my career.'"

13. And he had an uncomfortable encounter with a police officer while in full blackface.


Because they were shooting on location, Slattery didn't want to wait on set in his blackface make-up, so he made sure he only headed over to shoot when they were ready to roll. Once they got the green light, they drove over. "And when I open the door to the van, and there's literally like a six-foot-six black motorcycle cop," Slattery remembered, noting the extras on set looking at him jaw-slacked, and Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) in particular.

14. "The Suitcase" was an episode that was meant to save money.

"This was our saving-money episode. It's what they call in television 'the bottle show.' A bottle show is a show that ... limits the elements of the show — there's one location with as few people as possible," Weiner said, joking that bottle episodes actually end up being "the most expensive episodes that you ever do." "You really want it to work that way ... but this was a special script — a script that was not planned in the beginning the season," he said. "It's what we call a filler ... it was like an extra episode that didn't really advance the story except that it told the entire relationship of these two people."

15. And the bar scene between Peggy and Don in "The Suitcase" came from the writers' list of questions they'd never answered.

"We made a list in the writers' room before we did this ... of everything that had not been talked about, because so much of the show depends on people not talking to each other," Weiner explained. One of those questions was: "Doesn't Peggy wonder why Don has never hit on her?" "And this is Season 4, where he seems to be the least picky he's ever been. These are not my words, by the way," Weiner added.

16. Speaking of bars, Hamm thought it was important that Don’s alcoholism eventually be depicted as no laughing matter.

AMC / Via

"The era of the lovable drunk is firmly in the rearview mirror at this point," the actor said. "Don is an alcoholic. Now, it's a person with a pretty severe disease. It's way less adorable in our culture."

17. But Weiner worried showing Don’s drinking as a problem would turn viewers off.


"Telling the audience that Don's drinking is not so much fun, I was like, am I ruining the show?" Weiner remembered thinking aloud during Season 4.

18. Peggy and Roger's legendary Season 5 scene in "Mystery Date” was Weiner's response to his own notorious back-and-forth with AMC and Lionsgate.

Weiner first started negotiating with AMC in 2010, after the show's fourth season, and they didn't reach a new agreement until March 2011, sidelining Mad Men for a year and a half — the Season 4 finale aired in October 2010 and Season 5 didn't launch until March 2012. "I was a little bit fascinated with negotiating at that point and the different aspects of it," he said with a smile of this Peggy-Roger moment. "It's really the only place it kind of showed up on the show."

19. There was a sign that Lane would be leaving the show.

Lane (Jared Harris) wound up committing suicide at the end of Season 5, but before Harris was even made aware of his character's fate, he not only had a feeling, but he also sent a signal. “If you rewatch the episode where he embezzles the money with the check, he takes the check, he writes Don Draper’s name on the check, he picks it up, and he waves goodbye," Weiner said. "He knew. I had not told him yet, but he knew."

20. Joan's Jaguar storyline almost happened way earlier.


"Matt and I had discussed the storyline two or three seasons before and, you know, sometimes a season gets filled with stories and you don't get to use a story," Hendricks said. "It had been quite some time, so I was surprised when it sort of reemerged. "

21. And Harry almost got fired.

AMC / Via

“I always wanted to do a story about someone getting fired and how it would decimate their life — because I understood this for various reasons — and that they would feel unmanned,” Weiner said. "And it was going to be Rich Sommer’s character, Harry.”

22. Not explicitly stating the year when a new season begins is just an attempt at some fun.

AMC / Via

"I think it's entertaining," Weiner said. "I enjoy being mystified. I enjoy being confused for a moment because it's so much more satisfying when you're illuminating."

23. And the characters intentionally don't call each other by name very much.

AMC / Via

"They don't call each other by name often," Weiner said, another attempt to mimic real-life conversation. "I have people [come up to me] who are like, I love Mad Men. I've seen every episode three times. My favorite character's the guy with the white hair." And Weiner understands why even the biggest fans get thrown. "'Cause [on the show] they don't say, 'Hey, Roger! How you doing?' ... I don't do it and we kind of pay the price for it in a way, because they don't know."

Mad Men's final episodes begin airing on Sunday, April 5 at 10 p.m. on AMC.

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