The actor behind Sterling Cooper’s Head of Television talks about his own hidden talents, getting to run around in his underwear and whether he follows Harry Crane’s tweets.
Q: Is there anything you’ve learned in three seasons that affects your performances now… for instance Bryan Batt says he never eats on camera.
A: Bryan’s definitely right on that. I try not to eat on camera. Unfortunately, being kind of the fat guy in the office, I often have to eat on camera. Last season — that scene where we find out that Kurt is gay — I was eating a custard-filled donut. I ate a half a donut per take. And we… I think we did about 30 takes. So I ate fifteen donuts in two or three hours and I thought I was going to die. The same goes for smoking. You want to try not to smoke during scenes if you can. You especially want to try not to light a cigarette, or then you’re really screwed because you have to do it the same way each time.
Q: Harry continues his ascent up the corporate ladder but if Rich Sommer worked at Sterling Cooper, what might his job be?
A: Secretary. That’s really about the extent of my office skill. I was a temp for three years in New York when I was auditioning; when I was cast in Mad Men, I was still a temp. I’m good at making copies; I’m good at typing things. I’m good at killing the day and making it look like I’m doing something.
Q: I hear you play video games between takes. Who’s your greatest challenger?
A: In the cast of regulars, it’s Aaron Staton without a doubt. He’s played a lot more video games than the rest of us have; he’s hard to keep up with. As far as guest actors, Ryan Cartwright (John Hooker). That guy is ridiculously good. We will sometimes meet up online in Call of Duty and he will eviscerate us one by one. But it’s been a different game every year. The first year, there was a weird little board game that I brought called Hive that a lot of us played. The second year it was backgammon. I have no idea what it’ll be next year.
Q: Pete got to dance, Joan played the accordion, Roger sang. Do you have a talent that should be showcased?
A: I can juggle, not well… I can balance a broom on my chin. I can do very simple carny tricks, a little sleight of hand with cards and coins. No, I really can’t image how my talents will make it on the screen. I’m not that well-rounded a guy.
Q: Since your background’s comedy, what are your favorite funny moments from the series?
A: They were really good to me this week. They let me do the whole clapping too long and the stuff with the blood on the window. And of course, I love the underwear scene from Season 1. And that little run they let me do. They’re very generous with me with comedy, which I appreciate. The writers play to all of our strengths.
Q: You’re a pretty active Twitter user. Do you keep in touch with fans that way?
A: That’s the goal of Twitter for me. I don’t have that many fans; I’m still a relatively small part of the show (Follow Rich Sommer on Twitter here). But I do enjoy the ability to talk to people about the show and let them know tiny inside things that I think I might be interested in. Only because I follow people that I’m a fan of, on the shows that I respect, and I always love when they give a little inside information.
Q: Do you follow Harry Crane’s tweets?
A: I do follow Harry Crane — but I haven’t seen him tweet in a while (Follow Harry Crane on Twitter here).
Q: That must be somewhat meta?
It is and isn’t. It is kind of meta in that they write a lot like the characters sound, or at least, they reference things that the character does and says, and that’s kind of strange. It’s not meta in that I am not Harry Crane. The writers are Harry Crane. They make that character what it is.