The Mad Men Cast Is Already Mourning the End

As anticipation mounts for the final season of Mad Men, Jon Hamm and his costars are tasked with remaining coy about plot developments while at the same time whetting fan appetites. It's a dance the cast has mastered throughout the seven years they've spent capturing the heyday of advertising on Madison Avenue. Still, as the actors fielded questions at PaleyFest on Friday night, they couldn't help but let a couple cats out of the bag. For starters, Hamm addressed the steamy indiscretion Don Draper and ex-wife Betty Francis shared in season six. It begged the question of whether Don will ditch current wife Megan and rekindle his relationship with Betty? "Probably not," Hamm said. Next up: there was speculation that Megan was going to be murdered, a theory based entirely on a wardrobe decision. Last season, rumors flew after Megan donned the same shirt Sharon Tate famously wore in the '60s. "I pay attention to the writing of our writers," said Jessica Paré, who plays Megan, brushing it aside. "With that said, I don't know what's going to happen at the end of this season. Maybe we're all dead."

Indeed, the entire cast, including Hamm, is almost as clueless as the rest of us, watching Don's story unfold one episode at a time. "I think some of us know where our characters are gonna be. I don't think any of us know the scope, the tone," Hamm said. After years of comparing the tidbits creator Matthew Weiner feeds him with fan predictions, Hamm has developed a theory of his own to explain the interest. "The way the show doles out information is very bleak sometimes. When that is the case, people who are invested in the show and the characters try to fill in the blanks," he said. "What it really means is they're engaged in what we're doing."

The engagement won't last much longer, although AMC is clearly determined to prolong the show's farewell and capitalize on its pop culture moment. The final season, set to premiere on April 13, will be split in half, with the last of 14 episodes set to air in Spring 2015. By the time the final episode airs, several months will have gone by since they filmed their last scene. According to Hamm, the filming of the last seven episodes is set to start on March 28. It's clear this reality has started to take hold. "We're in some phase of grief, and it's probably denial. There's nothing we could do to prepare for it," Hamm said. "I think I cry every day," Paré added. Elisabeth Moss, who plays the ambitious Peggy Olson, injected some humor to ease the high emotions. "I don't plan on seeing these people again," she deadpanned. For Kiernan Shipka, who took on the role of Don's daughter Sally at the tender age of 6, bidding adieu to her character feels like losing a part of herself. "I've been on the show longer than I haven't. It's been the best experience ever. For it to be ending and not know what Sally's up to, it's going to be sad."

As the conversation came to a close, a fan in the audience asked each of the cast members to share their favorite memory from the show. Christina Hendricks, whose portrayal of Joan Harris has garnered four consecutive Emmy nominations, recalled the moment when she read the script for the episode "Babylon" in season one. "It was the first time that I sort of had a bigger story line that was revealing some things about Joan that I didn't know about her yet. And she was doing stuff that I would never do, and I went, 'This is gonna be so much fun!' I started to get to know her and I was just so excited and so tickled and I learned every line the first day I got it and I (rehearsed it) over and over." Broadway veteran Robert Morse, who plays the aloof Bertram Cooper, chimed in with a spicy, albeit fictional, memory and got a big laugh. "I think it was in her dressing room."

If you're like the cast and prefer to embrace humor over sadness, check out a video Hamm recommended. Without giving too much away, it's a reimagining of Mad Men as an '80s sitcom. Enjoy!

click to play video