"If Rob Lowe had been cast in the part, it would have been different," says Jon Hamm, on the set in L.A. "There was no backstory with me."
"I need not to think about my character," says January Jones who plays Betty Draper, ex-wife of Don Draper. "Betty is so blissfully ignorant in certain ways, so I feel like I should be too."
"There are all sorts of challenges thrown at her," says Christina Hendricks of her character, sexy office manager Joan Holloway. "Horrific things. And she consistently pulls it together, cleans it up and moves forward. Sometimes she's walking through mud, but she does it.
Elisabeth Moss, who plays the ambitious career girl Peggy Olsen, has a touch of pride about the fact that Mad Men's stars were relative unknowns before show creator Matthew Weiner put them to such brilliant use. "Matt always says that he basically hired a bunch of not-famous people, but people that had been working for a really long time."
The attention to detail, from conversational idiom to collar-point widths, is evident in every episode. The prop team blows you away. There are stacks of old Look magazines, genuine expense-report sheets and receipts from a business trip (hotel: $2.80; cab to restaurant: $1.12; dinner: $19.44).
Vincent Kartheiser, who plays the slimy Pete Campbell, learning his lines. "One of my few vanities," he says, "is going to a party and people not realizing I'm the person they saw in Mad Men."
Aaron Staton and Rich Sommer, who play Ken Cosgrove and Harry Crane, on set in Los Angeles.
Hamm at work on set. "You have to be mentally acute for a significant period of time," he says, "and that becomes pretty draining."
Christina Hendricks films a scene in the board room on set in Los Angeles.
Robert Morse gets his character Bert Cooper's signature goatee applied on set in Los Angeles.
"I don't really have that much in comparison to the way Don holds himself. I'm not that guy. I don't really look like that," says Hamm.
A view of the wardrobe room on the set of Mad Men in Los Angeles.
Christina Hendricks, in full wardrobe, makes her way to the set in Los Angeles.
Weiner starts each season by having lunch with Hamm: "It's a rare partnership. I always scribble something down that ends up in Episode 13."
"I fly very low on the radar," says Hamm. "Mark Twain said it: 'I'd rather say nothing and be thought an idiot than open my mouth and remove all doubt.' Another Missouri boy, Mark Twain. The petulant, shitty movie-star mentality – that burns out pretty quick."
Actor and director John Slattery on set in Los Angeles.
"I don't need to relate to her," Jones says of Betty Draper, the show's most unsympathetic character. "The biggest obstacle for me is not to judge her."
Jon Hamm and the crew of Mad Men film a scene on set in Los Angeles.
Jon Hamm on the set of Mad Men in Los Angeles.