Emmy Watch: John Slattery talks about his 'Mad Men' LSD trip
Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to return nomination ballots, EW.com is running a series called Emmy Watch, featuring highlight clips and interviews with actors, producers, and writers whom EW TV critic Ken Tucker has on his wish list for the nominations announcement on July 19.
As any Mad Men fan will tell you, any scene with Roger Sterling (John Slattery) has the potential for brilliance or at least a one-liner that you’ll be quoting for the next week. But no episode was more full of stellar Sterling moments than “Far Away Places,” or, as you probably know it, “The LSD Episode.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did Matt Weiner tell you about this story twist in advance?
JOHN SLATTERY: I think he did say something but it was something simple like, “You’re going to take LSD.” It was like saying, “You’re gonna sing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ in blackface.” Like, what?
Was this your favorite episode of the season as well?
I liked various scenes. The scene with Jared Harris on the couch where I explained to him how to pitch an account was a favorite. I loved that writing. Someone asked me why the show continues to succeed and the bottom line is the writing. We as actors have something to do with bringing humanity to the characters, but ultimately it’s all about the writing. Shows like this don’t come along. I have never experienced anything like it before and I doubt I ever will again.
Roger is whip-smart and extremely clever. But he’s not exactly the druggie type. How hard was it to act as Roger while he was tripping?
It was all very specific in the script. There were a lot of looking-in-the-mirror moments. We had to reshoot the 1919 World Series scene. Matt wanted me to be giddier. And he didn’t like the wallpaper. So he said, ‘let’s shoot the whole thing and do it differently.’ He didn’t want it to be stoney. It had to be lucid. But it wasn’t like I had to conjure up a state of mind. It was all right there in the script.
The episode was a definite turning point for Roger in the season. How do you think it set him up for the remaining episodes?
It gave him the assurance that it isn’t over. Roger doesn’t have to work. He has a lot of money. You could argue he’d be happier elsewhere. But that experience gave him the insight that he’s too young to give up. It isn’t time to quit. He has this experience where the whole world isn’t revolving around him. People can be looking at you but they’re not thinking about you. To Roger, that’s very profound even if everyone else in the world has already thought of that.
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