Mad Men
The Rich Sommer Interview

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"He Wants To Be A Guy, But Also Wants To Be A Man"
CB: Another interesting thing I find about the show is just how many long scenes there are. And yet, there are so many unspoken moments -- I would guess, not having seen a script, that the number of words per page actually devoted to dialogue is the lowest of any show, at least that I watch. RS: Sure. Yeah. CB: There's so much silence, and there are so many lines that are just written in a very, I would say, minimalist way. Do you find that freeing as an actor? RS: Oh, I do. I mean, as I said earlier, for me, I've found that my style tends toward the natural, you know? I thrive in a scene where I can feel like it's a real situation…and not necessarily real in that it has to be, you know, a true story or whatever. I mean, I'm happy to fantasize, but I like real reactions and real dialogue, and in our real lives, there's a lot of real silence. So allowing us to tape with what's not being said definitely makes it a far more enjoyable experience. There's a lot of shaping that can be done in the silence, and, from a technical standpoint, it's good for the editors, obviously, because they can then design…we can all sort of work together and collaborate on how full or dense or not dense those scenes are. CB: Sure. Okay, another thing I personally love about the show and that's been talked about quite a bit is how effortlessly it seems to avoid cliché, and surprises even avid viewers. One example of that is again, in "Nixon vs. Kennedy" -- I don't know why I keep going back to that episode. RS: It's such a…that episode, I feel, is a major…it's kind of a turning point for a lot of people. CB: Yeah. It's a tour de force. So where Ken finds Paul's play, and he's giving him shit about it, and you think maybe Paul's going to punch him in the face, and the next thing you know, they're staging a reading. Which was hilarious, but also unexpected. RS: Exactly. CB: So when you get a new script, do you just look through for moments like that? RS: Well, when I get a new script, and I can definitely say that everyone is always so eager to get our new scripts, when we would get them, we would just sit and pore through them, because we were enjoying the new scripts in the exact same way that every viewer who watches Mad Men was eagerly waiting for the next episode. To see, you know, not only what would happen for our particular characters, but the twists and turns that were happening that we didn't anticipate. I didn't know Peggy was pregnant until we were shooting, I think, Episode 11 or 12. They didn't tell us, and I only heard because Aaron Staton came up to me and told me. But, you know, we gossip about the show just as much as anyone does. So yeah, I didn't even have to read for those surprises, they just -- I loved them as a reader, and as someone who had gotten to perform them, and I read with as much excitement as anyone. When Harry and Hildy kissed, I remember gasping audibly. [both laugh] And that next morning in the story, I was like, "Oh, Harry, you idiot!" You know? And your glasses are broken…I mean, it's just…uch. What an idiot.

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Mad Men

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