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Sunday, July 25, 2010

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Rich Sommer: Season Four of 'Mad Men' Is 'Unbelievable'

The fourth season of 'Mad Men' premieres in just a few hours (10 PM on AMC), and we can hardly stand the wait.

PopEater was lucky enough to talk to star Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane -- Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's head of media -- and he is just as enthused about the upcoming episodes as we are.

"I'm excited to finally get it out there. We've been sitting on it for so long. It pains us as much as it pains you guys," he says in our interview.

The audience should expect the usual greatness that the show brings. "There are a couple of episodes this season that are unbelievable, so I can't wait to see them," Sommer adds.

More good news for the actor? He and his wife are expecting their second child at the end of the summer. "We'll be having a little boy to match our little girl." Read the Full Interview After the Jump!
Are you excited for the season four premiere as I am?
[Laughs] Yes, of course. I'm excited to finally get it out there. We've been sitting on it for so long. It pains us as much as it pains you guys.

You've seen it?
I have. I've now seen it twice.

What do you think?
I think it's great. It's hard. I said recently, it's hard not to be a sycophant for AMC and our show in particular. It's hard because it's good and I'm really really proud of what we put together, especially how it kicks off. I think it starts strong.

So what can you tell me about where this season is headed?
Well, I mean, as you know by the way you asked that question, not very much. I can say that it does move forward some amount in time. We don't start the next day after season three. We continue to be affected by the time we were in, as far as events that happened. And you see a new paradigm, it's a new company. Even though some people are still in the same job, everyone has a new status because there are fewer people at the company. It's a tighter run ship and it forces everybody into an elevated position of authority.

Well, let's talk about Harry for a little bit. Where do you want to see him go in this world?
I'm rooting for him. I like Harry so much. It's weird because obviously he's not me. There's a lot about him that is like me and I think we're both pretty ambitious guys and hope for both of us that that pays off. Historically, people who did what he does, continued up the ladder. This is not the top of the ladder for someone who does what he does. People like Harry who were head of media became heads of entire agencies or got more involved in entertainment. I think that he got on the right train when he started the TV department. It looks like it could go well for him if he doesn't f--- it up.

He's obviously very forward thinking.
Yeah. I think so. He's at least not willing to be complacent, which is good.

What's it like on set? Do you all hate each other?
[Laughs] No, we do not all hate each other, luckily. We get along very very well. Over the years it's like summer camp. We're away from each other for the bulk of the year, but when we get together, there's a lot of talking about what you did in the off time and there's always that renewed thing at the beginning of the season, everyone's hanging out a lot. Jon Hamm and I like to spend a little time going to see some comedy -- sorry I almost started naming the one place that we go.

[Laughs] Don't worry.
But yeah, we like to go see comedy and Lizzie Moss [who plays Peggy Olson] is a good friend. And of course Michael Gladis [Paul Kinsey] and Aaron Staton [Ken Cosgrove] are all good friends. It's a very social group. We're a friendly group, we luckily get a long well. You're best friend for the moment is whomever you're working with that day. It's nice.

Is there anyone you want to do more with?
Hmm. Let me preface that-- it's hard for me to answer this question, obviously, because it can give away if I have or haven't had time with anyone yet this season -- we're now 10 episodes in -- and that's a lot of information that would be communicated by that question. I think it's safe to say that any scene with anyone, it's a different dynamic any time you do a scene. I loved the stuff I got to do with Christina Hendricks [Joan Holloway] in season two with 'A Night to Remember' when she was reading those scripts.

That was such a heartbreaking moment, when Harry hired someone else.
I know. I know I got yelled at for that off screen a few times. More than a few times. But, with her, she's just so good. She and I have a short, albeit fun, little scene in the premiere. It's good. As far as who do I want to work with more? Anyone. Working with Jon Hamm is always amazing. He's so good. The scene that I got to do with him in 'The Wheel,' in season one, talking about the Lascaux cave paintings and the carousel, is the best scene I've gotten to do in anything in my entire life. Half of it was the writing, half of it was Jon, just getting to do that with him. Anytime I get to work with him is great. Of course, John Slattery [Roger Sterling] is hilarious, we have a lot of fun together. That's a hard question to answer, for lots of reasons.

I'm sure you don't want to make any enemies or hurt any feelings.
There's no one I don't want to do scenes with, let's put it that way.

How do you feel about the phenomenon that the show has become?
I still remain pretty astounded. I'm not astounded that the show is popular, necessarily, in the way that it should be. I think it's the best writing on TV hands down, so as far as I'm concerned, it's kind of a no brainer. I guess I'm a little surprised because we're still getting love. A lot of shows don't even make it to a third and fourth season and those that do, it's rare for them to get the respect we seem to get. The only bad thing about it is, it's literally down hill for me. There's nothing that can ever measure up to this. I cannot in my brain fathom how something gets bigger than this, since my biggest dreams of doing a TV show didn't even encompass -- didn't even come close to what this show is. It's hard to imagine it being any better.

On the flip side, I know that I feel -- and a lot of other people feel -- that it doesn't get better than this for us as an audience.
That's awesome. I mean, we agree.

I remember watching the finale last season and thinking 'Oh my God, it got better.'
We're waiting for the other shoe to drop. Luckily, it's not even in sight, so it's good.

Will we get to see 'Mad Men' into the '70s?
Do you really want to? Really? I'm guessing that part of the reason people want us to go into the '70s is the novelty of it. Seeing Don Draper in bell bottoms. I don't think he'd ever really be in bell bottoms, but I don't know. I know that as it stands, there is not an end in sight for the show. There was all this weird back and forth about when AMC or Lionsgate wants the show to end or when Matt Weiner wants the show to end. I'm not privy to any of that stuff. I'm just enjoying the time that I'm here and recognizing that this is a finite thing. My time on the show is finite or the show is finite -- I don't know. I just want to enjoy it while it's here.

I'm afraid I'll sound like an obsessed fan girl here, but I'd take as much 'Mad Men' as I can get. Bring on the 22-episode seasons, please.
Well, I love that and I of course, anytime I get to put on Harry Crane, I get excited but that being said, the reason the show is so effective is because of the tightness, how little time there is to do it. There are things where I will look at an episode, late in the season and realize how quickly we got from zero to 60. If you look at episode 13, we didn't know [PPL and Sterling Cooper were going to be sold], until the beginning of 13 and that whole episode changed the entire structure of the show. While I hear what you are saying and it'd be fun, I think it's really an integral part of why the show is as compelling as it is, to have it be stuffed into those 13 episodes as it is.

We prize what we do get, believe me.
I'm glad.

Do you have a favorite episodes?
Ohh. I have lots of favorite episodes. My favorite episode to shoot was 'Nixon Vs. Kennedy' in the first season. That party that happens throughout the show was basically really happening. We were all there together, we were having fun. We shot it almost entirely in chronological order, so those scenes where everyone was exhausted at the end and laying on couches [was really like that.] And one of my favorite scenes happens in the entire series, which is Paul Kinsey and Joan Holloway having a conversation about when they used to date and then dancing, silently, the Cha-Cha, with no music. They were exhausted, it was two in the morning when they finally got to that scene. They look exhausted, they sounded exhausted. That day was incredible. A lot of the people involved with that still cite that as their favorite day at work. That was my favorite to shoot. My favorite to watch? I think this answer will be different once I see this season because there are a couple of episodes this season that are unbelievable so I can't wait to see them. But, you know, [last season's finale] 'Shut the Door, Have a Seat,' the show's never been more fun than that episode and sad and funny. It hits all the notes that the show is known for.

I love the scene where Harry finds out that they are starting a new agency is in disbelief about what is happening and he says 'You're kidding' and Roger replies, 'Yes, we are. Happy birthday.'
[Laughs.] That was really funny.

What else is going on for you, besides 'Mad Men'?
When 'Mad Men' is happening, it's pretty bonkers around here. I'm sort of on call. It's hard to do things while we're shooting this. I did manage to squeeze in a couple of things for Funny or Die. It's called 'The Committee.' We're hoping to do more of those. And [my wife and I are] having a second child at the end of the summer.

Thank you. Right as we wrap, we'll be having a little boy to match our little girl. Anytime I'm not at work, I'm doing that. It's been a very full and fulfilling summer.

Well thank you so much, I obviously really enjoy the show. I don't know if you got that.
[Laughs.] I did. But honestly, I really appreciate it. Especially when it comes to interviews, it's always nice to talk to someone who knows the show and can kind of get the references and isn't just asking what's in those fake cigarettes you're smoking. Those questions got old halfway through season one.

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