Mad Men actors, creator reflect on series finale: Sunday, May 17

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14 May 2015

AMC, 10:00 PM ET - SERIES FINALE, Sunday, May 17

By Barb Oates

Jon Hamm remembers vividly the day when he came in to read for the role of “Mad Men’s” Don Draper, a complex 1960s Madison Avenue advertising executive with a mysterious past.

“It was in Santa Monica in February of 2005 or 2006,” he says. “I had to drive from Los Feliz to Santa Monica in the rain. … It was literally me and this 17-year-old who was in the same place to audition for a commercial. It was a very strange experience and that was the first audition I had, which was only with the casting director. That was the first of seven auditions it took me to get this part.”

Of course, winning the monumental role forever ensconced Hamm in an elite class of actors whose characters have defined television as well as a network. It's also a part that consumed almost 10 years of his life. “There’s no version of this ending that is not super painful for me,” Hamm says.

The creative genius behind the series is Matthew Weiner, who shares: “I’m extremely interested in what the audience thinks, so much so that I’m trying to delight them and confound them and not frustrate and irritate them. I don’t want them to walk away angry.”

For the actors, walking away from this show has simply been heart-wrenching. “It’s a beautiful story,” tells January Jones (Betty Draper, a.k.a. Betty Francis) of the ending. “It’s perfect in a way, and I read it over and over. I didn’t want it to be the last time.”

Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson, says she was surprised by the ending. “I was definitely surprised. … I’ve been constantly surprised by things that really I should probably have seen coming. But I was surprised in the best way, like just really, really happy with it.”

“Mad Men’s” final episode is this Sunday on AMC.

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