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The Silver Surfer

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“The thing about this show that you don’t see on other shows,” he continues, “is that everything everybody does is informed by everything they’ve already done. The trap is not to be glib about it, because Roger can be a really glib character. The mistake I’ve sometimes made is to try to make Roger more human than he is on the page. Matt really has thought of everything, so if you try to modulate the pace at which a character is revealed, then you’re doing a disservice to what’s written.”

After a little over a decade in the business, hopping between theater (his first notable job, in 1989, was alongside Nathan Lane in Terrence McNally’s The Lisbon Traviata) and character parts in movies and on TV, Slattery got a breakout role in 2000, playing one of Carrie Bradshaw’s love interests on Sex and the City—a politician with a urine fetish. Mad Men saved him from being forever the guy who liked to be peed on (or principal Dennis Martino on Ed, or Eva Longoria Parker’s other husband on Desperate Housewives). It has also earned him three Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor and a Roger Sterling Barbie doll. In casting Roger, Weiner was looking for someone to be the office grown-up, and not just because of the prematurely white hair. “I’d seen him in the play Rabbit Hole, and I liked that he didn’t have a theatrical attack on dialogue,” says Weiner. “He doesn’t treat lines like they’re musical and abstract. John is an actor who is interested in reality. He’s a very funny person who has weight when he needs it.”

Funny enough that Slattery wouldn’t mind doing an out-and-out comedy with, say, Judd Apatow. Silver hair can be as limiting as it is defining, and the morally dubious authority-figure roles are getting tiresome—or at least they will be after Roger Sterling is done. But surely there can’t be an end to Roger until there’s a resolution with Joan, his tough, sexy, wildly witty flip side? Does Slattery crave a romantic reunion as much as the show’s fans do? “Only in that Christina and I have a great time acting together,” he says. “The easiest scenes are the ones where the actor sees clearly what the character wants. When Joan walks in the room, you pretty much know what you want.”

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