Jan 262009

Our conversation took place on January 8th; before the Golden Globe win, before the SAG win (!!!) before Matthew Weiner was signed on to continue with the show. Things change awful fast in this Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Speaking with Michael was so much fun. It was easy; we just jumped right in and talked and talked and talked. He is a real pleasure. I wish you could hear how much of these words, both his and mine, were spoken through laughter. There was a lot of cracking up.

We spoke about the holidays, how he’d just finally gotten home after having traveled non-stop for two months. He’d gotten to spend time with his family; all of them together, which is apparently a rare treat, as one of his brothers lives in Japan and another in Spain.

About his siblings, he had this to say:

We’re all sort of black sheep; it’s a lot of fun.

(I told him I entirely related to that.)

And also:

It makes Christmas dinner really raucus and enjoyable.

And off we went.

photo from AMCtv.com

photo from AMCtv.com

Roberta Lipp: How did the role come to you?

Michael Gladis: Paul Kinsey? Well, originally I was “Dick”, a different role, for the pilot.

RKL: I was gonna ask you about that! The cigarette-smoking Dick!

MG: Cigarette-smoking Dick! He was an Account Executive just like Harry and Ken. We were supposed to be like a Greek Chorus trio. We were all sort of interchangeable, I think.

I only did one audition for Mad Men. I was in New York, we were all living in New York at the time, and I went in and I loved the script. Actually, its a funny story. I’d learned a really valuable lesson from Sopranos.

Being a New York actor, I’d auditioned for Sopranos a bunch of times. And one of the roles I got closest to was for one of the FBI agents in the last season. I got called back for the producer/director session for one of those two FBI agents, and for some really remarkable lack of judgment on my part, I showed up in like jeans and a really wrinkled button-down shirt, and unshaved for this final call-back. For an FBI agent. On The Sopranos. Which is totally inappropriate. And one of my really good friends in New York, Mike Kelly, walked into the audition. There were like four people called back. And he was clean-shaven and in this great gray suit and tie and looked so sharp, so professional. I looked at him, I looked at myself, and I was like, Oh, you motherfucker you’re going to get this role. And he did. And so when Mad Men came around I actually put on a suit for the audition, and I guess it worked out.

RKL: Was Weiner anywhere near that audition for Sopranos?

MG: I don’t recall whether or not he was, to tell you the truth, because I didn’t know who he was at the time. It was a big room full of people; there were a bunch of people in there.

RKL: Right.

MG: And then I got cast as Dick, and did the pilot. Then when they picked up the series and I came out to L.A. in April, and I get a call from my manager saying I’m sending you over some sides, and you have to go in and read them for Matt Weiner and Alan Taylor, who directed the pilot and the second episode, and Scott Hornbacher, the producer. And I said, Wai-wai-wait a second. I’ve already been cast, why am I auditioning again? And they said, Wellll, some things are changing. They kind of want to change your character but they want to make sure you can do it. They didn’t get to see you work that much in the pilot. They want to use the name Dick for someone else–I assume it’s Dick Whitman–They want this guy to be named Paul, so here are these sides. And it was just like 50 pages of dialogue; it was the whole tour with Peggy from Ladies Room where I take her around the office.

RKL: Where you talk about Twilight Zone.

MG: Yeah, exactly. So I start three days with Rich Sommer and Vincent Kartheiser coming over to my place and running through it and running through it and running through it, and I sort of had a second audition for a show that I was already cast in. And then I was Paul.

RKL: That must have been stressful!

MG: It was a little weird, but in the end I was very happy with the outcome. I would have been just heartbroken if in the end they were just like, Yeeaahh”Nooo. We’re gonna cast someone else in that role. We’ll fit you in somehow.

RKL: So let me just ask you this, it’s a bit off to the side. The character Dale, played by Mark Kelly”it seemed like he was part of that Greek chorus, not in the pilot but in Ladies Room. We missed him. He was there then he disappeared and then we sort of forgot about him but not quite, and then he popped up in season two. I’ve just always wondered it he was supposed to be more prominent or were they just looking for more guys. Do you know anything?

MG: Is there any rhyme or reason to that? I have no idea whatsoever. I can tell you that it did become a little bit of sort of a recurring joke on set. We’re in the middle of a scene and Jon Hamm would look around saying, Where’s Dale? I don’t know why they bring him in when, but he’s a really nice guy and good actor so we’re always glad to have him.

RKL: Yeah, he’s a real presence; he’s as much of a presence as anybody there. And Paul is definitely a character, and it was established in that second episode with the Twilight Zone thing and the pipe. What do you see as the history with you and Joan? Do you think they were more exclusive than she and Sterling? What do you imagine was going on there?

MG: I have the feeling that probably”and Christina and I have never talked about it, and Matt and I have never really talked about it”but my guess would be that somehow Paul finagled his way into a getting date with Joan, and it turned into a few dates, and maybe they slept together, but she was probably way too much woman for him. And like she says in episode 12 [Nixon vs. Kennedy], he probably opened his big mouth pretty quickly and that just put the kibosh on the whole thing. But there is such a great chemistry and I think that has partly to do with how wonderful an actress Christina Hendricks is. We’re very good friends in real life, so we love doing scenes together. And it seems like Matt really loves to play on that tension. You’d like to think that maybe there was the possibility of something between Paul and Joan, but Paul just ruined it with his big mouth.

RKL: Which probably is what happened with Sheila. What do you think happened on that trip? What do you think happened between the two of them in Mississippi?

MG: I think it’s a different sort of ruining a relationship with a big mouth. I think probably, when he gets insecure”I was thinking about what they went through as Freedom Riders, going down south at that time. That’s a crazy thing to have done for anyone. And he probably just, through his insecurities, kept running his mouth the whole time, like he was on the bus, and she just said, Enough.

RKL: We hope she’ll be back. We just think she’s adorable.

MG: I love Donielle. She is such a wonderful person, and she’s great to work with. Although I didn’t get to work with her enough. I want to do more.

RKL: We all wanted more. We all wanted more of her. I felt like, to be honest, that was the first storyline that the limitation of a 13 episode season did a disservice.

MG: Like it could have been explored more?

RKL: Yeah, I think it was cut short.

MG: It’s such rich ground there and unfortunately it was abandoned. But you never know. You never know what can happen. We can hope that maybe Paul will go crawling back to her and she’ll take him back, who knows.

RKL: It would be interesting. And it leads me to my next question. We’ve talked a lot, on the Basket, about Paul being a poseur.

MG: Yeah, I so fiercely, within my heart, I want to defend Paul so much. I was sort of beating the tide with a stick.

RKL: How do you want to defend Paul? Let’s hear it.

MG: As an actor you can never pass judgment on your own character. Even when you’re playing a villain, you can’t, when you’re in the middle of playing him, view him as a villain. So even if he is a poseur, no poseur thinks of themselves as a poseur. So from my perspective when I’m playing Paul, and in some ways he’s a little bit close to me, and so maybe Mad Men is going to be an extended lesson in humility for me, but he’s someone who wants everyone to know how smart he is, yeah, maybe to a fault, and wants to contribute as much as he thinks he can. I don’t know. I don’t think him dating Sheila is just purely as a trophy black girlfriend, because I know at least from conversations with Matt before the first episode of Season Two, which took place on Valentine’s Day, I remember he told me he was trying to keep it a big secret from me that my girlfriend was black but another person tipped me off. But I did text Matt before we started shooting the first episode, I said, It’s Valentine’s Day, Paul has a girlfriend. Is he in love? And Matt just wrote back simply Yes he is.

RKL: Aww!

MG: So from my perspective I have to play it like I really, really care for Sheila. And that’s how I tried to do it.

RKL: Yeah, you were the missing couple from that episode, weren’t you?

MG: Yes.

RKL: But then there wouldn’t have been the reveal in the second episode, that Matt was saving it for.

MG: Right.

RKL: Again, she was very lovable, so it’s not hard to see that; Paul really caring for her.

MG: But everyone just jumped right down Paul’s throat and was like What a poseur, dating a black girl, just for the sake of looking cool! I was sitting at my computer saying, But no, he really likes her!

RKL: But in defense of those who jumped, which, y’know, was me. And all of us. Look, we’ve all been in complex relationships, right?

MG: Right.

RKL: So the feelings might have been there and it doesn’t mean that both things aren’t true. And it wasn’t just the fact of his having a black girlfriend, it was Come meet my baby, it was the whole way he presented it and never said to anyone, By the way, I’m dating a black girl. Nobody’s that evolved, or color-blind, in 1962, to the point where it isn’t noteworthy.

MG: It was actually a huge risk, back then. I think people also got it a little bit confused because now it’d be easier for a white man dating a black woman and saying Oh he’s a poseur. But back then, that could have been a death sentence in the Sterling Cooper white waspy American business old boy’s club.

RKL: That’s true. And if Paul were a smaller man in stature, it would also be a physical danger for you guys to be out together.

MG: As a matter of fact, at one point I was dating an African American woman in New York City. I remember the first time I kissed her goodnight on the streets of New York, I was absolutely appalled at how many men in cars driving by, usually other black men, were yelling obscenities not at me, but at the woman. And I remember pulling back from her and her looking at me and saying, Just don’t pay any attention to them. I was just so taken aback. So to imagine that in whatever it was, 2004, or 2003, as opposed to 1962, I don’t think Paul’s stature could have helped him at all.

RKL: Yeah. Fair enough.

MG: Especially not even down south.

RKL: Right. And it is appalling. It’s one of the fascinations of Mad Men. You’re constantly looking at how things have changed, and how things haven’t. It’s always gonna bring that reflection.

MG: And unfortunately it’s usually how little they’ve changed, essentially.

RKL: Do you think, or does Paul think, that Joan is a racist?

MG: No, I don’t think so. I think she was really digging into him as a poseur. I don’t think she is. I mean, her approach to Sheila was pretty harsh. If there is sort of a brief history, it’s sort of a by-product of the attitude of the times and not necessarily a personal hatred of a people just for their race. Does that make any sense?

RKL: Yeah, it does. I kind of think the same thing. It was an ugly moment, her and Sheila, but Joan is pretty offensive to a lot of people. Who knows. Her father could be Archie Bunker, and she could have that language, but I didn’t see her as a vicious racist. It’s hard to know where to draw the line, especially when you’re talking about that time period.

MG: Yeah and then when you mix in the whole history with Paul and Joan, and he introduces her, and obviously she can take it so much more quickly as a Oh, look at my new girl, and look at how different she is from you; you-can-never-beat-this-because-you-can-never-be-this kind of thing. Then it’s natural for her to lash out.

RKL: I promise this is the last one about Bad Paul. But he’s a thief, now–

MG: (laughing) He’s a thief!

RKL: You kind of addressed it earlier, in that you can never not believe in your own character. But is there anything specific to how you’re working with it?

MG: I haven’t really dwelled on it too much. And as you even said that I pictured not only the typewriter, like Ken pointed out at the party, but also taking Joan’s purse from her locker and stealing the license to photocopy it.

RKL: Absolutely.

MG: I guess that every thief has to rationalize their stealing, and he does it for the same reasons that any thief would; it’s out of need. So he needed a typewriter, I guess he couldn’t afford one, and he decided to take one from Sterling Cooper. Maybe he was pretending he was a Robin Hood figure, and stealing from The Man, to support his starving artist. And then the second was just pure revenge, and the ends justify the means

RKL: He is probably the most frustrated, and probably feels the most unappreciated. He expresses it about Don not paying enough attention to him, but also he’s got these aspirations to really be a writer, and like everybody who gets into advertising, or at least up until pretty recently, as a writer they went in expecting to be writing and creating. And there’s probably some disillusionment there.

MG: I think there’s a ton of it. And there’s frustration. And this is something I can kind of relate to. When I was in New York and I was waiting tables or bartending”usually when it went on for too long”you would hit that night, that one night, when the bar was super slow, and there was one person sitting there, and I knew I was gonna walk out with maybe twenty bucks cash in my pocket. And I’d think to myself, What the hell am I doing here? I know I’m better than this and I know I have more to contribute to the world than this; that sort of deep, general malaise. And I think that in a lot of ways, Paul feels like he has more to contribute to the world as a creative person than copy for ads. And that is a source of frustration for him.

RKL: What would you like to see happen for Paul in season 3 and forward seasons?

MG: Well, I think the track that he was on with going down south, and joining that movement. For Paul I would love nothing more than for him to continue to be a part of the kind of radical social swing that was the mid-late 60s. Protest movements and all that. So when Vietnam does fully kick in and all that, let Paul, even though even though he’ll be on the upper end of the age scale that can be fully involved, whether he’s a poseur in doing it or not, let him be there. I would love to see him in the thick of it.

RKL: Big sideburns, bellbottoms, love beads?

MG: Yeah! Keep [growing] the facial hair.

Treat Williams as Berger in the Milos Forman film HAIR; he is my favorite hippie.

Treat Williams as Berger in HAIR, my favorite hippie.

RKL: Are you all clean-shaven now?

MG: I shaved two weeks after the season ended, and I was so appalled by my baby face. I’d had the beard for the better part of a year, because I had it for that play in New York before the second season, so I’d had it for a long time. And all of a sudden I saw my face and I dropped like ten years instantly. I went to a bar where a bunch of us were hanging out and Matt kind of looked at me and looked away and didn’t even recognize me. I was like, Hey Matt! and he took a second take and he was just, Oh my God, you look so different. Yeah, I think I need to keep the facial hair just because I’ll look so young without it in comparison to the second season.

RKL: It’s true. I’ve had the same reaction going back and seeing even pictures of you in Season One. It’s like, Whoah! You didn’t strike me as particularly baby-faced until after seeing the beard.

MG: Right.

RKL: So how long has the Orson Welles comparison been going on; has it been your whole life?

MG: Yeah, sort of. I remember my grandmother comparing me to him and I had no idea who he was, so I asked my mom if that was a good thing, and she said it was.

There was a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful film written about Orson Welles, by a New Yorker writer named Hilton Als. And I was tipped off that they were auditioning for it in 2001 when I was doing a film in Canada; a submarine movie with Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. And so I got my manager to send me the script and I met with the writer and went through a whole bunch of auditions and they cast me. And I was so excited that I was going to be playing Orson Welles. And then the financiers of the movie said to the director, Who do you have to play Orson?, he said This guy Michael Gladis and they said Who? No, no no no, get a star, or we pull the funding. And he said, No no no, this is the guy who has to play him. So they pulled the funding. And it never got made. So since then it’s sort of been my dream and mission to help get that film made.

RKL: Have you studied voice work, specifically?

MG: I did. I was always a singer and I took a lot of voice lessons in high school. Even when I switched over; I was a painter before I went to acting school. I went to a conservatory for painting out of high school, and I always thought that that was what I was meant to do. But even though all through high school I sang in multiple choirs and I did a lot of theatre. I just never considered it as a vocation. But as for voice training, yeah. I took it in college. And I still sing.

RKL: I know! You play guitar too.

MG: I do, yeah. That’s what I was doing before I called you.

And then there is a whole sidebar where we discuss well, me, because I am a guitar-playing singer/songwriter chick, and I told him this, and he starts asking me stuff, which was fun.

RKL: Is folk singing your thing? Is guitar your thing?

MG: I just love American roots music. So that, as you know, goes from folk to blues to rock. I pretty much, I haven’t really played an electric guitar since I was in high school in a band. As soon as I left for college all I’ve really played was acoustic. I love playing acoustic guitar and I love singing, and if there are songs I like I’ll learn them. I also write; I’ve written a bunch of songs. I really write a lot of music for the guitar that need lyrics. If you know any poets or lyricists, let me know, ˜cause I’ve got a huge amount of music with melodies just ready to go.

RKL: What kind of guitar do you have?

MG: Oh it’s my baby. It’s a 1967 or 68 Gibson southern jumbo, which is a square-shouldered acoustic . It’s like a J-45 with some esthetic differences. It’s the one you can see online, the one that I’m playing in the Variety article for the Revue; that’s my guitar.

And actually I just got in touch with Gibson guitars, because I was really worried if we were going to be doing this Revue. Mine is a vintage, old guitar and I don’t want to subject it to the abuse of travel so Gibson guitars have really generously offered to lend me a guitar anytime I have a gig to play out, which is awesome.

RKL: Oh, that’s great.

MG: Such a dream. So I get to go to Gibson on the 23rd of January this year and be like, Oh, can I try that one? Now can I try that one? I’m gonna spend like all day in there playing guitars before I choose whichever one I play in Vegas.

RKL: That is so cool. Did you get to hang out with Dar Williams?

MG: Yeah, a little bit. She is so sweet. She is so great. And actually I’ll be singing with her and Colin Hanks in the Revue in Vegas. They did the Peter, Paul and Mary thing. And there was a third guy that filled out the trio, and this time David [Carbonara] asked me to be the third guy, so I get to sing with them in Vegas, which I’m really excited about.

RKL: Oh, that is so cool! That is a dream.

MG: My sister is the hugest Dar [fan]. I come from a family of musicians. All my siblings also play. And my sister is a really great songwriter out of Connecticut, and she used to cover Dar Williams all the time, so she just about wet her pants when she heard.

RKL: Yeah, I do a couple of Dar songs. That is hot. God, I love the idea of her as Mary. She is the modern version.

MG: Absolutely. I just hope that in the Vegas show they let her do more. Because all she did in the L.A. show was the Peter, Paul and Mary, and I hope they let her do one alone, because–

RKL: –because she’s Dar Williams.

MG: –she’s so great.

RKL: That is great. I’m so glad you’ll get to do that.

MG: I should learn that song actually, speaking of which.

RKL: You probably should!

MG: Yeah, I have to do that really soon!

Here is the youtube audio of Michael performing at the Revue.

RKL: So how did it turn into acting, from painting?

MG: I did some with my high school, and then one of my friends had the brilliant idea of going for local all-girl prep schools where they needed guys for theatre, and then that was just like, Oh I have to keep acting, just because there’s a whole population of young, wealthy women in my town who’ll have no idea what a dork I am in my own high school. And plus they have no options! So I was actually in demand.

RKL: That is brilliant. My nephew Arthur, Deborah’s son, has been studying dance for years. Heterosexual boys in dance class”not a bad plan.

MG: So lucky. It’s like a straight guy in musical theatre.

RKL: Exactly! Exactly.

MG: How did it transition”I went to a really small conservatory in western New York state called Alfred which was”the art school is the State University of New York School of Ceramics and Design at Alfred University, so it was like a state school program that was on a private university’s campus. Which was kind of cool because I only paid half as much as all the other kids at the school but I got all the facilities of a private school.

And so the girl that I was seeing at the time was involved with theatre, and I decided to audition for a production of Twelve Angry Men, and I got it. And I was sort of running myself ragged doing this foundation program for the visual arts department and acting in a show at the same time. But they had a visiting director from B.U. [Boston University] at the time and this guy was just incredible. And in rehearsals and performances for that, it was the first time that I was exposed to that concept of truth in theatre, truth in acting. and when that little troll goes and sits in the middle of that table, it’s just a magical thing. So I kind of got hooked.

It’s a very weird thing, I was on the phone with my father toward the end of my first semester of art school. I don’t think I had even formed the thought in my own head but there was just this sort of a long silence when we were talking to each other, and I just blurted out, Dad, I’m dropping out. I’m gonna go to acting school. And once the words were out of my mouth, the decision was made. So that’s how it happened.

RKL: How does it feel to be on this show?

MG: It’s amazing. It’s a dream. It’s like the whole reason”all those years of doing theatre in New York, and doing bartending or a construction job, and you dream that someday you’ll get one of those golden projects that you just couldn’t ask for anything more. And this is one of them. It’s really incredible. But at the same time, I’m still the same person that I was five years ago and I still look the same in the mirror and I don’t feel any different. But people treat me differently. Now when I go back to my poker game in New York and the guys are like, Oh, it’s the big TV star! And I’m, Yeaahh, I’d forgotten about that until you just said it. But it’s good, it’s good. It’s nice when people ask you what you do, and you say, I’m an actor. And then they say, Ohh, what restaurant do you work in, and you say, No really. I’m an actor. I actually work. That’s nice.

RKL: Can you talk about the experience of filming the scene with Kiernan [Sally Draper, in Three Sundays]? She was so, so great, sitting behind your desk getting all up in your business.

MG: The scene with Kiernan was great. She’s a wonderful young lady”very gracious and very polite, and a talented young actress. The scene was short, but we had fun. I think she enjoyed being on the office set as much as Sally enjoyed being in Sterling Coo.

We chatted about the upcoming Golden Globes. I was all set to ask him Who he would be wearing, because it cracks me up, but he reminded me that the Globes, with its dinner setup, is the hardest ticket to get, and so he and ˜the boys’ would be partying elsewhere, which we’ve since read about. This wove around to a brief mention of Janie Bryant, with whom he’d attended the Creative Emmys with (the year prior, when she was nominated for Deadwood). About Janie:

She is one of my best friends on the show.


And she’s also like the loveliest Southern belle you will ever speak to in your life.

RKL: Do you consider yourself a character actor? Is there even such a thing anymore? Because we saw your guest spot on Life, which we love, and you definitely disappeared in that role. Deborah didn’t recognize you. How do you feel about character work?

MG: I think there is such a thing as a character actor. And I definitely”hmm”would I rather be one than a leading man? You look at Jon Hamm and think, well that’s a pretty nice life. Unfortunately you look in the mirror and you think, well, I’m a character actor. I love doing big characters. And I think that’s probably one of the reasons I love stage as much as I do, because you can do such huge characters. Last winter when I did the play in between seasons in New York, and I was playing a hick from Maine with like a really deep accent, spitting tobacco juice into a Mountain Dew bottle the whole play and I think Alan Taylor and Vincent Kartheiser and one of the AMC executives Vlad Wolynetz came to see it and they were all like, Vlad especially and Alan Taylor were like, I NEVER would have cast you in that role in a million years! Because they all saw Mad Men and they assumed”I mean you can take it as a testament to your work”that that’s all you can do. That I can play the pretentious prick poseur in the corporate world and that’s it. No, I love doing character work.

Poseur! He said it! la la la

RKL: And I really am sorry we didn’t see your play; we weren’t as on our game last year. We’ll rush out to see anything and I’m sorry we didn’t. I totally didn’t know about it until after the fact.

MG: That’s alright. You all have done more than enough, I think you can be forgiven for missing one off-Broadway play.

I thank him and tell him a long story in which the cast was in New York and I found out about it literally minutes after it was over from twenty blocks over and Ohh, we shared a laugh over that one.

We also spoke about Matt Weiner, and how, at the time of the interview, his return to Mad Men was far from secured. He said he’d written to Matt at one point:

Without you there’s just really a set to go back to.

And, at the thought of returning to work:

We can all go back and we can put on the suits and we can quip at each other in the office but it won’t be the same.

It’s so interesting because this is a guy who’s been working for so long and he’s worked on all different shows from Becker to Sopranos and it’s just so clearly evident that this is like, a journeyman craftsman who is producing his masterpiece. So to be able to be a part of contributing to that is an honor.

RKL: Do you miss the East Coast? You’re here sometimes. Do you see yourself as a California guy? Do you miss winters?

MG: I grew up in New England, so I’m an east coaster. And I do miss New York. I think when I moved to New York it was the first place that I ever looked around and said Omigod, I’m home. And L.A.–I’m here under the best possible circumstances. Because for all my years in New York, my representation was always out here. And for the last six years they’ve been telling me, Michael, move to Los Angeles, move to Los Angeles. If you want to make your living as an actor, come out here and we’ll get you work. And I was really obstinate and I was really stubborn. I was like, You know what? I’m not moving to Los Angeles until Los Angeles brings me there. And it brought me here under the best possible circumstances. So if I were to complain about Los Angeles you could slap me upside the head. But the dream is to have that bicoastal lifestyle where you have revenue NYC Sublets in New York and the little house on the hills in Los Angeles and just flip back and forth and I can do theatre in the off-season and I can do films and TV here and that would be perfect.

We then talk about New Paltz and New York state and how we all (I included Deborah) love the area.

MG: I used to love the Hudson School painters like Bierstadt and Church, and I would envy them when I was a painter and I would say Oh, of course that’s romanticized, that kind of peach-golden sunlight and those spreading vistas and everything. And then you move up there and you’re like, Oh! It actually exists.

Bierstadt. Not New York state, but still. You get it.

Bierstadt. Not New York state, but still. You get it.

RKL: Is there anything totally surprising you can tell us about a cast member? I don’t know, like Elisabeth Moss tells the dirtiest jokes or something?

MG: Elisabeth Moss does not tell the dirtiest jokes. Let’s see”well you already know what a geek Rich Sommer is. Do you know that he is one of the foremost experts in the world on Uno?

RKL: (kind of shouting) Uno is like the dumbest game ev”okay I’m not gonna even. No, I did not know that!

MG: He’s literally been quoted in books about like games because he has one of the most extensive Uno collections in the world, and sold it with a friend of his. That is how big a geek Rich Sommer is. He’ll admit to being a geek, but I don’t think the world knows the extent to which he is a geek.

RKL: But you know what, too? What we learned from Rich is that we have these assumptions about geeks. He didn’t know anything about Star Trek! He didn’t know like a basic”Donna Murphy was at his staged reading. And we’re like, You know, Donna Murphy! She’s a big musical theatre star, but also she was in that Star Trek movie and he was like, Yeah I don’t know what you’re talking about. And we were like”Ohh! Geek is not one umbrella! That is what I learned from Rich Sommer.

MG: No, I think there’s very definite geek compartmentalization and specialization. And he’s definitely gone towards the board game end.

RKL: And what about you; are you a general game nerd or is it just chess?

MG: No, I’m actually a really, really competitive person, sometimes to my detriment. I’m really competitive. And Jon Hamm is too. So if Jon Hamm and I are playing backgammon, it’s just like two silent, seething men, just putting way too much stock in the roll of the dice.

Let me pause now to tell you that this description makes me a little swoony. I must reach for my fan. Okay let’s go on.

My favorite games are chess, pool”I think chess and pool, and then poker. But any game that I play, I play for blood.

RKL: Good to know. Before we wrap up, what else do you have going on, projectwise?

MG: I’m about to actually fly to Paris to shoot a short film, which will be fun. The tentative title is In the Wink of an Eye. One of the writers from my theatre company, Christopher VanDijk, wrote me and said, Hey, I’m co-writing this movie that shoots in Paris, and we’re gonna shoot in the Louvre and all around the city, and if you’re free and interested we’ll fly you out and set you up. And I read the script and it was really lovely, so I said Yeah I’m in.

RKL: Oh, wonderful!

MG: Other than that, I’m gonna come back and go right into rehearsals for the Revue in Vegas. And then starting in early February I’m actually back in Los Angeles and available for auditions and work which I haven’t been for the last couple of months, so hopefully I’ll get something soon after that.

We had a bit of follow-up emailing, and Michael gave me permission to share the following:

Paris was awesome ran around the streets filming in little pack, taking shelter from the frequent rain storms in little cafes… spent the inauguration night in an ex-pat bar where we Americans that had gathered experienced the heightened patriotism that comes with being out of the country. Tears flowed, each and every one of us stood, hands on hearts, and sung the national anthem- it was great.

Matt called in the middle of the night while i was in Paris to tell me he had signed his contract. After calling my folks to share the good news I cried for joy.


  32 Responses to “Exclusive BoK talk with Michael Gladis–NOT a poseur”

  1. I just printed this for the plane ride. I plan on quoting Michael back to himself in conversation while we're in Vegas.

    Should be fun. I bet I get punched within seven minutes.

  2. And we know from RS that MG has trained as a boxer, so that would be a very crisp beatdown. But after playing the Uno card, I think MG has to expect some snark from RS.

    Also , as it came up in the interview, I note that MW and CH talk about Joan's comments in "Flight 1" not being about race in the Inside Mad Men video for that ep. There's some non-judgmental MG in it, too.

    Excellent job, per usual, RKL — and thanks to MG for chatting. So interesting that he has a background in painting as well as playing guitar. As for the stress of re-auditioning, MG didn't mention — as he does on the DVDs — that he had terrible bronchitis upon his arrival in L.A., which probably didn't help.

  3. "So if Jon Hamm and I are playing backgammon, it’s just like two silent, seething men, just putting way too much stock in the roll of the dice."

    May I add that it took me about 45 seconds to continue reading the interview, after reading that sentence?

    Congrats to the cast for winning Best Ensemble!!

  4. My regard for Michael Giadis just hit the top of the scale. He owns a GIBSON SOUTHERN JUMBO. That's the guitar equivalent of a 1954 Mercedes SL two-seater sports car. And, he is a Donna Murphy fan, which makes him even more loveable.

    • Brenda, I play guitar but suck about the guitar world, and so I was not utterly impressed enough with his guitar. With your description, I am ashamed.

      I have no idea if he is a Donna Murphy fan. I am a Donna Murphy fan.

  5. An excellent interview! I always gave Paul the benefit of the doubt, no matter what anyone said…. All in all, it's great to see that Michael is reaping the rewards of a lot of hard work. And we get to benefit!

  6. RKL, great interview.

    Why would a Mad Men fan go anywhere else for Mad Men stuff?

  7. Well done and fun to read!
    You ladies continue to amaze day after day.

  8. Great Job Roberta.

    Thank you.

  9. Great interview.

    And I have to say, I agree with you about the storyline deserving more attention: it seems like Matt Weiner and Michael Gladis have a much more complex view of the relationship between Paul and Sheila, and Paul's role as an early white member of the civil rights movement, than what actually came across on screen.

  10. I know for a fact that at least one of his brothers is very proud of him – he blogs about Mad Men (and MG's role in it) all the time, which is why I got into the show!

    This was a great read. Thank you!

  11. Paul is probably the character I most relate to, which I won't get into here, but may be something I blog about later on. Another great interview, Roberta!

  12. Funny, Chris Gladis knows who you are!

    And here's the Gladis Flickr set.

    • Truth is, I have heard that Chris is a friend of a friend of a friend of mine. The friend of mine told me (the guy she's seeing has a good friend whose brother is on Mad Men–you're into that, right?). I've just never tapped into it as a source (I really don't like to stalk family members) and didn't realize he has a blog.

      But if we wind up at a happy hour together, which we just might, we will certainly have a few things to chat about.

  13. Deborah,

    Unlike VOX, most of the LiveJournal blogs I look at do not require registration to read or to comment. I just checked out Chris' base Blog address (the one that Karl gave was only to the speciifc Mad Men comment entry): http://mshades.livejournal.com/ ,
    and I could read and comment without registration.

  14. I get the "no stalking" thing. I wasn't aware he had a blog before that comment, but was aware of the flickr photostream, which comes up pretty quickly if you search for MM pics. So when DL said she wanted the link, I found it at Flickr, and the blog just linked the MG BoK interview.

  15. Roberta, no worries on the guitar. It's what Hank Williams played. There's a stamp insiide that says, "Only A Gibson is Good Enough."

  16. What a great read. Roberta, you are a master (mistress?) when it comes to MM interviews…and lots of other things I'm sure. A BoK suggestion: Since we're all counting the seconds, I think you guys should put a counter up at the top of your website: one of those "# weeks…# days…# hours…# seconds" until premiere of Season 3. I'm sure someone you know can rig that!

    • Thank you so much, sommgirl. The suggestion is great; we looked into it last year, and tanked, so we did it manually. Deborah posted every single day. But that was at the old url, and we have more widget options here. We'll see if we can work it out prior to getting confirmation on the date.

  17. That was a fun interview to read and how cool that RS was the first to comment. I love Uno, go Rich!!!

  18. FYI – Still kicking myself that I didn't make it to the season finale party. I can't believe MW showed up. I will NEVER miss a Lipp Sisters party again!!!! And thank you for the follow-up to my "counter" suggestion. I suppose great minds think alike – glad you looked into it once and would even consider it again.

  19. I fwded the Lipps some links on plug-ins to keep on file.

  20. I cannot wait to see Paul in a Nehru jacket.

  21. And I have to say, I agree with you about the storyline deserving more attention: it seems like Matt Weiner and Michael Gladis have a much more complex view of the relationship between Paul and Sheila, and Paul’s role as an early white member of the civil rights movement, than what actually came across on screen.

    As much as I loved Season 2, one of the few disappointing aspects of that season was Weiner's inability to delve deeper into that relationship. I was also disappointed by the vague note upon which the romance ended. The audience was told that Sheila had ended the relationship, but were never told or shown why.

  22. OK, so I just read this. I forgot about the typewriter. Do you think it is Paul who stole the credenza (S3,E5)?

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