As Mad Men prepares to air its final episodes, fans and cast members alike are readying themselves to say goodbye to the show’s memorable characters. But, as with many TV shows, some of Mad Men’s best characters disappeared far before the finale.
That didn’t stop the actors who brought art director Salvatore Romano (Bryan Batt), senior partner Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), and market researcher-cum-Don Draper love interest Faye Miller (Cara Buono) from attending Wednesday’s Black & Red Mad Men Ball in Los Angeles—and answering some of burning questions about their roles on the show.
Batt left the show the earliest, way back in season three when the semi-closeted Romano refused to have sex with another man to help advance the ad agency’s business. Fans have long rooted for Romano to reappear on the show—if only to provide closure for his storyline—but Batt was coy about whether that would happen, joking that “we walk by his grave.”
In the real world, Batt has been busy and successful since Mad Men, participating in over a dozen films and writing two books. He also got married and moved to New Orleans with his partner to open a home furnishing shop called Hazelnut, where he designs “different things.”
Batt also spoke about Jon Hamm’s recent public struggle with alcoholism, lauding the “brilliantly, brilliantly talented actor” for his “Shakesperian” monologues in Mad Men’s early seasons. He’s “also a gentleman,” said Batt, explaining a story about an afterparty where people got fed up with a girl who had had too much to drink. “Jon said, ‘Don’t embarrass her anymore than she’s embarrassed herself. Let me walk her to the elevator, take her down, and put her in my car and send her home.’ And he did. He’s the star of the show, and here he is taking the time out to help this girl that’s making an ass out of herself. He really is a stand-up gentleman. And you don’t find that that much.”
Buono also praised Hamm, calling him the Mad Men’s “leader” and explaining that “he set the tone for everyone to a level of professionalism and fun.” She says that while she was sad about leaving the show, “it made sense in the storytelling” because she “didn’t ever see Faye winding up with Don.” Beyond that, Buono was nostalgic for show’s finer details. “I loved everything [costume designer] Janie Bryant put me in,” she said. “I loved wearing the corsets because they just felt very together and very polished.”
Harris, on the other hand, provided some information that put a long-gestating rumor—about an Easter egg he provided in Pryce’s final episode—to rest. “It was the [scene] where he’s forging the signature on the check,” Harris explained. “He blows on it, and he waves it to dry it out. I did it so I was waving directly at the camera, but in a kind of distracted way. [Draper] had already given me my glass of brandy with my pink slip.”
All told, Harris misses showrunner Matthew Weiner’s high standards. “He wants to do the best work he’s ever done, and he wants you to do the best work you’ve ever done—and he will create the circumstances for that to happen,” Harris said. “It’s a great feeling.”
[Reporting by Scott Huver]