On The Killing, Eric Ladin stars as Jamie Wright, campaign manager to mayoral candidate Darren Richmond. Ladin spoke with AMCtv.com about playing an ambitious strategizer as well as his history with AMC — he plays Betty’s brother on Mad Men.
Q: Some of Jamie’s campaign strategies come off as callous. How do you make an audience sympathize with a guy who’s such an aggressive strategizer?
A: Whenever you take on a character like this — somebody who is easily villainized or somebody who possibly could be disliked by your audience — it’s important that you make sure you justify everything that he or she is doing. So that was kind of step one for me. He doesn’t necessarily come from a place of malice or ill will. I would say he has a competitive nature. He has an undying will to win, so he knows what that takes.
Q: What’s your rapport like with Billy Campbell? Do you guys hang out when you’re not working?
A: We do. We go hang out at his house, have beers, game night. We’re talking about going to the boat show this weekend. Ollie’s really into boats. He’s a huge sailor.
Q: Campbell did an around-the-world trip, right?
A: He did. He’s got a boat that’s in South Africa right now.
Q: You call him Ollie?
A: Ollie is what he prefers to be called. That’s his middle name, Oliver, but he likes to go by Ollie. Everybody refers to him as Ollie.
Q: I was looking at your Twitter account. You’re a good tweeter.
A: I appreciate that. I’m new to the Twitterverse and so I’m attempting to build my followers. I’m trying to be a better tweeter. I try not to tweet too much, just when I’ve got something worthwhile to say. When sports are on TV, sometimes I can get a little ahead of myself.
Q: You have to do a lot of vomiting in Episode 5. How would you describe the art of throwing up?
A: I really wanted it to look real, so I talked to Phil [Abraham], the director. I was like, “As long as we have the camera in place and we’re ready to go, I’d rather just go ahead and really throw up. I think it’ll look better.” After some talking, Phil was really, really against it. He didn’t want me to a) put my body through it and b) in the story I’m drinking whiskey, so it’s really a lot of liquid that I would be throwing up as opposed to so much food, not to get gross. Luckily we have an amazing props master. James brought the Cuisinart out and made a concoction of some chicken noodle soup and chicken broth and added some coke and water to get the color of whiskey. Rather than put it in my mouth and then just pretend to throw it up, I chugged the entire thing knowing that just the taste alone would probably make me vomit. I was fortunate enough that it did. We got it in one take.
Q: Are you glad they didn’t let you go through with the full-on vomiting?
A: I said, “Look, you have to make me a promise that if from the other side of the camera this does not look real, you’ll let me do it my way.” And he said absolutely. I had my own method ready to go, but when I got to the other side of the monitor, a couple people had dry-heaved watching. So I knew it worked.
Q: You also play Betty’s brother, William Hofstadt, on Mad Men. Did your work on that show help lead to your role on The Killing?
A: I guess working on Mad Men turned me onto AMC and really got me watching the network, and so with that I got a good idea of the type of show they like to produce. But other than that, that’s it. They’re pretty different characters.