The Mad Man Cometh

As the final season of AMC’s groundbreaking television series "Mad Men" gets underway this spring, co-star Kevin Rahm is just getting started in his new home of Sacramento.

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Kevin Rahm kicks back at LowBrau. "Even though Sacramento is big, it has a small-town feel to it," he says. "I like that." (Photo by Max Whittaker)

 

With the final season of AMC’s groundbreaking television series premiering in April, it’s about to be a mad, mad, Mad Men  world once again. And for Sacramentans, that world just got a whole lot smaller now that actor Kevin Rahm—aka Don Draper’s rival-turned-partner Ted Chaough—has added an unexpected plot twist: a move to the capital city.

The seventh—and final—season of Mad Men starts airing on April 13. Where are you in terms of filming it?

We’re on episode six of 14. I think we’ll be done shooting in June or July. So the first seven [episodes] start airing in April, and then the last seven a year later. We’ll do what Breaking Bad did [and split the final season into two parts]. That’s a lot of time to keep secrets!

Yeah, about that: I know that the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, likes to keep things close to the vest, but what can you tell us about the new season?

Absolutely nothing. I can tell you absolutely nothing. I’m trying to think if there’s anything. I’m just excited to see … [Laughs] I’m trying to say something without saying anything. It’s exciting—it’s exciting to see what’s coming. When I do interviews, it’s as if Matthew’s sitting on my shoulder. So what would I say in front of Matthew? I have nothing. At every table read, he’s like, “Welcome. You’re part of the show and we’re a family and we love to have you. But don’t tell anyone anything. Don’t tell your mom. Don’t tell them what year it is. Don’t tell them whose scenes you’re in. Don’t say what you’re wearing.”

I hear that even the cast doesn’t get a lot of advance notice on the scripts.

No [we don’t]. We get scripts the day before the table read. Of course, I’m sitting by my door waiting for them to show up and give me the script so I can read it, because one of Matt’s jokes at the table read is, “This is not a performance, but it will be judged as one.”

And how long before shooting are the table reads?

Usually the day before. Like if we have a table read on a Wednesday, we’ll start shooting that episode the next day.

Wow, so you really don’t have much time to prepare.

I remember two [seasons] ago, there was a scene when I was pranking Don Draper [on the phone pretending to be Robert Kennedy] and I had to do the Kennedy accent. I finally get ahold of the script and I read that I have to do the Kennedy accent. I’m like, “Um, yeah, I don’t know how to do that.” Give me a day or two and I’ll work it out, but this time, I had like an hour. So I went online and looked for Kennedy speeches and the first thing I came across was The Simpsons doing their version of [the accent]. So for the table read at least, I did my version of The Simpsons’ version of Kennedy.

At that point, your character Ted Chaough was the co-head of a rival ad agency. But then he and Don decided to join forces and Ted started playing a major role on the show. How excited were you when you found out about the merger?

Oh, I was giddy. I did a dance. I was like, “How am I ever going to be an integral part of the story?” So when I read that, I was like, “Oh, OK. Here we go!” When I auditioned—this was 2009-ish—I auditioned for a two- or three-episode part. I have no idea if they knew how far they were going to take the character. The opportunity to be full-time on Mad Men is once in a lifetime. I mean, how often do you get to be a part of something like that, that’s culturally significant and that the president uses in a State of the Union address? It’s crazy.

Ted Chaough (played by Rahm) and his protege-turned-romantic-interest Peggy Olson (portrayed by Elisabeth Moss) on "Mad Men." (Photo by Jessica Brooks/AMC)One of the big storylines last year was Ted’s growing relationship with [copywriter] Peggy Olson, which culminated in a one-night extramarital affair before they went their separate ways. Like many Mad Men fans, do you want Ted and Peggy to get back together?

I would love it if they did. From an actor’s point of view I would love to get [back] together because that means I get to have more scenes with Lizzie [Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy]. She is one of my favorite scene partners. So from a completely selfish point of view, yes. But then from a point of view of who Ted is, I like the idea that Ted doesn’t [pursue the relationship further]. I would be happy either way, but it’s interesting to me from a character’s point of view that Ted is the one guy who doesn’t do that repeatedly. I mean, everyone else on that show is a dog.