Few Mad Men characters are more beloved than Salvatore Romano, brought to life onscreen by Bryan Batt. Which is sort of surprising, considering he hasn’t appeared in an episode in this decade. Bratt’s last appearance on the show came in October 2009, when Sterling Cooper fired him for refusing the sexual advances of Lucky Strike exec Lee Garner, Jr.
That makes five and a half years that fans have clamored for Batt’s return to the show, or at least for closure of his character’s storyline. Alas, according to an Esquire.com essay by Batt himself, Sal lovers shouldn’t hold their breath for an appearance on Sunday’s finale. “Matt [Weiner] is not one of those people who would let the public tell him what story to tell,” Batt says in the piece. “The show is a success because no one pandered to the opinions of anyone else but the storyteller himself.”
Here’s what else we learned from the essay:
He got the role in one audition—that he almost blew off. After Batt’s goddaughter helped to save goods from the store Batt and his husband owned in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, the couple decided to take her to Paris.
Batt was at Christina Hendricks’ wedding the night Sal’s final episode aired. “A beautiful wedding,” Batt says. “The most gorgeous glowing bride. Sal wasn’t even on my mind.”
Sal’s departure wasn’t always seen as final. Weiner wanted to tell Batt the Sal news in person, but because Batt wasn’t in New York he “asked to bite the bullet over the phone.”
Batt knew before the pilot that Sal’s homosexuality would become a plot point. According to Batt’s account, Weiner approached him at a makeup and wardrobe test in 2006 to tell him that Sal would go on a business trip with Don—an episode that ended up in the third season—and have sex with a man, adding to Batt that “it’s not going to matter.”
Meryl Streep is a Mad Men fan. One year at the SAG Awards, someone introduced Batt to Streep, who remarked, “I love Mad Men! My husband and I watch it every Sunday.” Batt’s reaction? “I can die now. Meryl Streep has seen my work.”
Read Batt’s full essay on Esquire.com.