Encores Sundays 6AM/5c
Industry veteran Robert Morse talks about playing Sterling Cooper’s senior partner, why he prefers the Japanese print to the Rothko, and how he became a big Twitter user.
Q: At Sterling Cooper, Bert plays a father figure of sorts. Is your dynamic with the cast similar?
A: Everybody treats me with such respect. They call me sir, and I say, “Oh please don’t do that, call me ‘Bobby.’” It’s a well mannered bunch of people, but I don’t think it’s carried much further than that. We’re all pretty equal, I don’t think there’s great deference. And if I end up being a father figure, it just means I move a little slower than rest!
Q: Bert is famously eccentric. Are any of his quirks at all like your own?
A: That’s always in the eye of the beholder, I say. You yourself
can’t see it as much as other people. I think I’m pretty much down to
earth, and I’m not really way, way out there. I like the normal things
of life: I like the Mets, and the Celtics, and the NY Rangers. I like
to watch C-Span; I love Costco.
Q: What’s your preparation process?
A: There’s a young lady who helps me prepare. My memorization
skills aren’t that great so I need help in that area. As far as
everything else, I listen to the director. I’m someone who doesn’t
argue. I hit my marks and say the lines. I’m very fortunate to be on
such a wonderful show — and the lunch is wonderful.
Q: Unlike most of the cast, you actually lived through the sixties as an adult.
A: I’m probably the only one. I was born in 1931.
Q: How does that affect your relationship to the material?
A: It’s like reliving everything. I really go back. And sometimes
some of the cast say, “Did that really happen?” Or “Is that the way
they dressed?” I’ll say, “Oh yes.” I went over to Madison Avenue quite
often as a young guy, because I would do advertising or voice-overs. I
would go to many of the agencies that are mentioned in the series.
Little did I know!
Q: Bert drums down Pete for his ideas about integrating ads for
Admiral TV. Do you have your own memories of the civil rights movement?
A: I never had that experience with a certain product being limited,
not to be approached by everybody. At the time, there were certain
restrictions, the great divide between haves and have-nots, the color
line and religious lines — even Kennedy, because he was Catholic.
Q: Which do you prefer? The Rothko or the Japanese print?
A: I would say it would be the Japanese décor. Anything that’s
Japanese in the office, I love it all. I had the fortune of being in
Japan for some time when I was younger. I used put a raw egg in rice
because I learned to do that there.
Q: How did you get started on Twitter?
A: Rich Sommer taught me how to do it — I noticed that several of the
young men in the company were always on their iPhones. I complained to
him, “Alright, I joined, and I have no friends.” And he said, “You will
by tonight.” I guess he did something, all of a sudden, I have three or
four hundred friends.