Mad Men, one of AMC's critical darlings, returns Sunday at 9 p.m. While the fate of former Sterling Cooper art director Sal Romano remains unknown, we chatted with actor Bryan Batt about his experience working on the show. Batt is also the author of "momoir" She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother, and owner of home décor store Hazelnut in New Orleans.
Q: What was your favorite piece of set design?
A: There are two things. There's a coffee table in Roger Sterling's old office that I tried literally to put in my bag, and there was a pair of paintings, these abstract expressionist paintings in the conference room that I coveted. They're just gorgeous.
Q: Who in the cast is most like their character?
A: I would say it's a tie between Rich Sommer, except he's not as doubtful as Harry Crane, and John Slattery, except John's not a philanderer. But John has this clever, clever, dry wit. He just effortlessly has everyone in stitches. I would have to say them for certain aspects. And Christina (Hendricks). ... She's one of these women that she's not trying whatsoever to be sexy, but she just is. I don't know how else to describe it, it's like trying to ask the sun not to shine.
Q: What was the hardest part of portraying Sal Romano?
A: The hardest part for me as an actor was just pulling back so far, not giving so much, because I'm used to giving so much. And the scripts are so brilliant with the show, you don't have to act the subtext. You don't have to act the foreshadowing. You don't have to do anything but say the words and be honest in the scene and you're fine. It's so well-written.
Q: What are your favorite moments of the series?
A: I have to take out mine. ... I'll never forget in the opening of the second season (the image) of January (Jones) coming down that staircase at the hotel to meet Jon Hamm. That visual just looked to me like something out of a late-'50s beautiful film noir. It was just gorgeous. One of the most heart-breaking -- there are so many heart-breaking moments -- when Christina (Hendricks) was getting raped by her fiancé and her head just turned to the camera and that look, it still gives me chills.
Q: What was one of the most difficult scenes to shoot?
A: Whenever you see a scene in the conference room, and we're all around that table, we just call it the conference room from Hell, because no matter what, it's going to take forever. We just know it, because the more people that are sitting around that table, the more times they have to take out the walls and get the cameras in from all the different angles.
Q: If you could bring back one piece of '60s fashion that hasn't already been brought back, what would it be?
A: Hasn't it all come back? Well, they haven't gotten to the Nehru jacket, and the flare pants have not come in. We have the tie bars and the skinny pants. ... I never wore a lot of hats. I would like to bring back more hats. Jon (Hamm) and John Slattery really used the hats, but I didn't have a lot to do with the hats. I think they're pretty sassy.
Q: Besides Sal, if you could portray any other Mad Men character, male or female, who would it be?
A: Hands-down, it's got to be (Joan Holloway). Just for the outer-body experience, just to feel what that's like. It must be very different to walk down the street and have every head turn. It's a different kind of power, it's different kind of human experience that I'm totally unfamiliar with. I'm sure every guy would say Don Draper. And sure, who wouldn't like to be that? But I just think it would be really interesting to really get the perspective from the epitome of the female beauty side.
Q: Which Mad Men woman would you say is most like your mother?
A: Trudy (Campbell, played by Alison Brie). Trudy is the closest. ... (My friend and I) walk in the morning every day, and once the book was in and was coming out, then we were daydreaming about who could play my mother, and we came down to Alison.
Q: What advice would you give Sal after he got fired?
A: I've said this before: What I would predict or want for my character is light years behind what Matt (Weiner) and the rest of the writers would come up with. I just hope there's a little more Sal left, because it's just been such a joy to play.
Q: If Sal was living today, where would he be?
A: If Sal was living in the present day, I think he'd be partnered and grateful. We had a wonderful adviser on the show and a lot of Sal's journey and stories were based on his life. He and his partner recently got married last year before all the Prop. 8 in Los Angeles. He was married (to a woman), he did have children, he met his partner and finally realized he had to be who he was. He's still good friends with his wife, the children are still part of his life and he and his partner are married. I think it's beautiful. It's what I'd wish for Sal.
he is the reigning hbic, no matter what. and omg. ONE MORE DAY.
let's make this another party post kthx
eta: gif now behind cut, mods!