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John Slattery From Mad Men' to Millinocket

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As Roger Sterling on 'Mad Men,' AMC's chronicle of the inner workings of a high-pressure New York City ad agency, John Slattery plays a hilariously sly heart attack-prone, heavy smoking and drinking womanizer. But in real life, he is nothing like Sterling, right? 'I'd like to think so, but there's probably a lot of me in that character,' Slattery says. 'Half the things he does would land you in jail right now. It's a lot of fun to play.'

Slattery plays an altogether different character in his latest film, 'In Our Nature,' in theatres Dec. 7. The movie centers around two couples. Slattery is Gil, the estranged father of Seth. Father and son unexpectedly come together with their respective girlfriends for a weekend at the family cabin. 'When dad and his son see each other, they immediately want to leave, but the two women persuade them to stay,' Slattery told me.

The premise promises tension, but Slattery says the dynamic provides some very funny moments. 'Like any family, everybody sees it their own way. Then you have two non-family participants in the two women who come with no agenda. They've heard all of these stories and they go, 'Wait a minute.' They sort of act as referees at times, and a lot of it is really funny,' he said.

Early in 2012, John Slattery spent more than a month in the Millinocket area working on the film 'Bluebird,' written and directed by Lance Edmands. Like nearly every role he has accepted, Slattery says the quality of the writing was key. 'It's a small drama that is really well written and shot,' he said. 'It's about a family in Millinocket a logger, his wife and their daughter. It's a very good story and I'm sure it's going to turn out really well. Hopefully, we'll be seeing it at the Sundance Film Festival soon,' Slattery said.

A native of Boston, Slattery told me that his time in Millinocket gave him a taste of winter in Maine. 'There were a few days where it was really cold, but the people up there don't seem bothered by it,' he remembered. 'A lot of the movie takes place outside, and after a couple of cold days we really got the idea of what it would be like to stick it out in that environment for a long, cold winter.'

Back in the warmth of Los Angeles, Slattery has returned to the set of 'Mad Men' where he will direct two episodes for season six, expected to begin airing on AMC next March.

Slattery's direction guided three earlier 'Mad Men' episodes an experience he enjoyed, but he wonders how they might have been different if time hadn't been an issue.

'On 'Mad Men,' we have eight days to shoot an episode, that's a lot of material to cover,' he told me. 'You can't help but wonder, What would have happened if I had tried some things differently?' The writing is really so good, so there is not a lot of directing that goes on in that regard. You just figure out where to put the camera and how best to tell a really good story.'

Prior to speaking with Slattery, I mentioned the interview on Facebook and received some interesting questions from my friend and 'Mad Men' fan Brett Slater, who operates an audio and video advertising production house called Slater's Garage in Tucson, Arizona.

Brett wondered if the producers had ever considered crafting era-accurate commercials for clients represented by the show's Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency. 'How cool would it be to see a vintage-looking commercial for Jaguar, Samsonite, General Mills or Playtex while you're watching the show?' Brett wondered.

John Slattery responded: 'I don't think it's something they've considered doing only because it would be an added project it would take that much more time. As for the campaigns featured in the show, I'm always thinking, That's real, right?' but they are all made up. Some of them are just so great better than some of the campaigns that actually ran back in the day, I think.'

In addition to 'Mad Men,' Slattery will be seen next spring in the recently revived 'Arrested Development' one of TV's most unconventional shows. The sharply-written, fast-paced comedy met an early demise in 2006 after three seasons of massive critical adoration but relatively low viewership. As the show enjoyed a new life through DVD sales, love for 'Arrested Development' has grown.

For its return, 'Arrested Development' will bypass traditional broadcast delivery and release 10 new episodes to Netflix on the same day. A feature-length film is expected to follow.

'They're still shooting them,' Slattery said. 'I'm a fan of the show and I still don't know for sure how they're doing it it's happening sort of concurrently. I believe that each of the episodes centers around one of the characters. I've shot my scenes and worked with the great Jeffrey Tambor (George Bluth, Sr.) he is just awesome.'

Mike Dow can be heard each morning on WABK -104.3 FM. Beginning Dec. 31, his show will also air on Big 104 104.7 and 107.7 The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s and '80s.

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 15:50

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