Industry veteran Robert Morse talks about playing Sterling Cooper's senior partner, why he prefers the Japanese print to the Rothko, and how he became a big Twitter user.
Q: At Sterling Cooper, Bert plays a father figure of sorts. Is your dynamic with the cast similar?
A: Everybody treats me with such respect. They call me sir, and I say, "Oh please don't do that, call me 'Bobby.'" It's a well mannered bunch of people, but I don't think it's carried much further than that. We're all pretty equal, I don't think there's great deference. And if I end up being a father figure, it just means I move a little slower than rest!
Q: Bert is famously eccentric. Are any of his quirks at all like your own?
A: That's always in the eye of the beholder, I say. You yourself can't see it as much as other people. I think I'm pretty much down to earth, and I'm not really way, way out there. I like the normal things of life: I like the Mets, and the Celtics, and the NY Rangers. I like to watch C-Span; I love Costco.
Q: What's your preparation process?
A: There's a young lady who helps me prepare. My memorization skills aren't that great so I need help in that area. As far as everything else, I listen to the director. I'm someone who doesn't argue. I hit my marks and say the lines. I'm very fortunate to be on such a wonderful show -- and the lunch is wonderful.
Q: Unlike most of the cast, you actually lived through the sixties as an adult.
A: I'm probably the only one. I was born in 1931.
Q: How does that affect your relationship to the material?
A: It's like reliving everything. I really go back. And sometimes some of the cast say, "Did that really happen?" Or "Is that the way they dressed?" I'll say, "Oh yes." I went over to Madison Avenue quite often as a young guy, because I would do advertising or voice-overs. I would go to many of the agencies that are mentioned in the series. Little did I know!
Q: Bert drums down Pete for his ideas about integrating ads for Admiral TV. Do you have your own memories of the civil rights movement?
A: I never had that experience with a certain product being limited, not to be approached by everybody. At the time, there were certain restrictions, the great divide between haves and have-nots, the color line and religious lines -- even Kennedy, because he was Catholic.
Q: Which do you prefer? The Rothko or the Japanese print?
A: I would say it would be the Japanese décor. Anything that's Japanese in the office, I love it all. I had the fortune of being in Japan for some time when I was younger. I used put a raw egg in rice because I learned to do that there.
Q: How did you get started on Twitter?
A: Rich Sommer taught me how to do it -- I noticed that several of the young men in the company were always on their iPhones. I complained to him, "Alright, I joined, and I have no friends." And he said, "You will by tonight." I guess he did something, all of a sudden, I have three or four hundred friends.
his twitter, fyi.
oh, he's just bein' cooper
Sterling Cooper's dynamic duo of Kurt and Smitty are the new kids on the block. Edin Gali (Kurt) and Patrick Cavanaugh (Smitty) talk about their real-life friendship, whether they've ever been dressed down by other bosses, and strutting around the set in costume.
Q: Your characters are generally featured together... Did you audition together?
PC: We did not audition together. I think originally the plan was that these two guys were going to pop up in that episode of Season 2. It was just a one day, guest star kind of thing. And we met at the table read, and hit it off right away. We became buddies and enjoy each other's jokes and company. So it worked out.
EG: Like he said, the first time we met at a table to read. It was just one thing, and ended up being what it is today. They kept bringing us back. All my friends are always like, "Dude, I can't imagine Kurt without Smitty, or Smitty without Kurt. You guys are like partners in crime."
Q: Do you spend time together off-screen?
EG: We said we were going to go hiking -- he has a dog, I have a dog. But unfortunately we haven't. We call each other all the time.
PC: We're always checking in with each other. Especially when we get a hold for an episode, we call each other right away: "Did you get your hold too?"
Q: Since you play the office's link to the youth movement, did you brush up on your 1960s music and culture?
PC: I researched the time period, and both my parents grew up in the era, so I talk to them a lot about it. You also pick people brains on set because it's the little things... It's not so much the culture aspect, it's making sure to sit up straight, or if the line is, "I have to go to the bathroom," you don't say "I gotta go to the bathroom." You're very aware of how our language has changed 40 years later.
EG: It was so proper compared to what it is today, so much more pronounced.
Q: Does that carry over in your day-to-day life?
PC: I sit up straighter!
Q: In Episode 9 this season, both guys get a dressing down by Don over the Hilton campaign. Have you ever had a similar experience on other jobs?
PC: My very first job when I moved here about ten years ago, I did a really low budget non-union horror movie. I had no experience on set and I was so excited to have a part, and it was just an awful experience in that the director did not care about actors. It was: Get it right the first time because we don't have money for film.
EG: I consider myself very lucky. Mad Men was one of the first things I ever booked. I hope all my next jobs are like Mad Men.
PC: I always tell my friends, we've hit the guest star lottery. It's not filler, something you zone out to. It's art to me. And that starts with Matt [Weiner], he's created something amazing.
EG: You appreciate every second. If you had a genie, that's the wish you'd ask for.
Q: Edin, what was your reaction to last season's episode in which Kurt nonchalantly comes out as gay to the group?
EG: I thought it was so amazing. I didn't expect for that character to go there. I was beyond excited. What I also found out is that Matt specifically writes all my lines. I just look at them, and think, "How the hell does he come up with that? It really is what a European would say." That's how my father speaks!
Q: Patrick, you appeared in one of this season's most talked about scenes -- the pot party in the office. Was rehearsing that funny?
PC: For me, it was a little nerve-wracking. I had played stoners before, definitely the more cartoonish version of what it's like to be stoned. Matt said, "Don't be different. Let the words be what is the stoned part." When we shot that, by the time when we're supposed to be stoned, it was 3 or 4 in the morning, so we were in haze anyway. But we had a lot of fun.
Q: Much has been made about the show's wardrobe, but you guys don't get to wear the buttoned-up suits...
PC: Thank goodness! We strut around like peacocks. I always tell Janie [Bryant], "You just painted our pants on." In the last episode, our pants are so tight, it's ridiculous how they fit. It's always an adventure when we go for costume fittings, that's for sure.
EG: Mine are even more out of this world. Those yellow sweaters, it's like a highlighter. When we come on the set, literally everyone stops and stares.
Feel free to turn this into a Mad Men party post. Any end of season predictions, other than Don Draper's ass meeting my foot?
(Mods, the second interview is a few days old, but I searched pretty extensively and it wasn't posted.)