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Bryan Batt: 'Mad Men' Proves Our Society Still Has A Long Way To Go

By Jarett
July 30, 2009

Bryan Batt
After matching, exactly, the number of Emmy nominations the show received for its first season, you could assume that "Mad Men's" costumers were looking into ways to enlarge the star's now-signature hats to accommodate their ever-growing heads. You'd be wrong. Way wrong.

"Everyone is so thrilled but we still have to go to work tomorrow," says Bryan Batt, who plays Sterling-Cooper's closeted art director. "It great, but there's no ego, no bull."

And as the show is (finally) moving full-steam ahead on filming season three, the series' second season has landed on store shelves just in time to rewatch before the premiere on August 16.

It's with that spirit of reflection that Bryan and I took a gander back at "Mad Men's" bound to be Emmy-winning second season. We chatted about his favorite season two moments, what his Pollyanna version of the show would look like and why he advises all actors to never actually eat anything!

PopWrap: "Mad Men's" no spoiler policy is well-documented, so is it weird to now look back and talk about the show?
Bryan Batt: It's bizarre. Plus, we filmed it so long ago. It's not like I go home and watch the show every day, but I sat with some old episodes yesterday that I hadn't seen in a long time, which was great, because I only shoot Salvatore's scenes, so like a fan, I only get to see how it all comes to fruition when the show airs.

PW: What were some of your favorite things about season two?
Bryan: The one visual burned on my retina is Betty Draper sitting in that dress for on her bed for days after learning about Don's affair. It was so affecting.


Bryan's favorite scene

PW: And with Sal? I loved your reaction when European Kurt nonchalantly admitted he was gay.
Bryan: Oh yes, there were so many emotions going on in that scene because Sal is not only shocked that this kid has come out, but he also realizes that he could never do that. He's also a bit jealous of that generation feeling free enough to do so.

PW: Do you think Sal's greatest regret is not being the one to Queer Eye Peggy Olson?
Bryan: [laughs] Oh gosh, I don't think he's a hair person. Sal would definitely like to take Peggy shopping. I mean, look at the way he dresses!

Salvatore and Peggy

PW: With fans, what question do you get the most often: When is the show coming back, or what's going to happen?
Bryan: People stop me all the time and the first question always is, "when are you Wcoming back?" As a cast, we don't even bother trying to guess what's going to happen any more, we just take it one "oh my god" at a time.

PW: Why do you think the show is so capable of catching fans off guard?
Bryan: I think it's quite titillating because we open every door, but just a little bit. We only see a glimmer of what could happen. Then we turn and open another door. It's the constant tease of possibility.


PW: Hypothetically if creator Matthew Weiner asked you to write an episode, what would happen to Sal?
Bryan: I would love to see Sal explore a real relationship with a man and see him torn, because he does love his wife. I'd like to see him have children and bring that torture on! Also, I've heard so many stories about gay men in that time finding their soulmate, leaving their families and in the end, everyone is good friends. The children are accepting of it. I'd love to see that -- but that's the Pollyanna in me. But that is not the "Mad Men" way!

PW: Yes, although the show is real to a fault, it doesn't give any false happy endings.
Bryan: I am constantly amazed at how our show mirrors society -- how far we've progressed yet how far we still have to go. We're still debating issues that were discussed back then. It's amazing that there's no equality in this country, and that women still make 80 percent of a man's salary.

PW: Most actors say the first season of a show is about finding their footing. Looking back, what did you learn in year one?
Bryan: I learned in the pilot, don't take a bite.

PW: What does that mean?
Bryan: In that episode, I happened to pop a cherry into my mouth during a scene, not realizing that there would be 50 takes, from every possible angle. So I ended up eating about 50 maraschino cherries!

PW: The timing on the release of season two is perfect since season three kicks off in 17 days, I hear there are a few Sal-centric episodes coming up.
Bryan: Yes and no -- I tend to exaggerate. [laughs] I do have some great material coming up, but I think everyone does. Season three is really shaping up wonderfully.

"Mad Men" Season Two is now available on DVD!

Photo: AMC