As Matthew Weiner’s stylish, critically acclaimed and brilliantly nuanced series draws to a close, we’re taking a look at the cast that shaped the iconic series over the years, and how their careers have progressed since taking up their roles at Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce.
Jon Hamm – Don Draper
Jon Hamm’s defining role as the tortured, brilliant Don Draper has won him legions of fans, and elevated him to the A-list, but success wasn’t easy to come by for the Missouri-born actor. He was dropped by the famous William Morris Agency and saw his audition for Mad Men as his final shot at success. Since winning the role of a lifetime, Hamm has taken on a diverse range of roles- including a scene-stealing performance as Kristen Wiig’s lecherous love interest in box office smash Bridesmaids, a hardened FBI agent in the Ben Affleck-directed crime drama The Town, and a maverick sports agent in Million Dollar Arm. He’s also jumped behind the camera, honing his directing skills on a couple of episodes of Mad Men.
Christina Hendricks – Joan Harris (nee Holloway)
Hendricks’ role as the office queen bee and eventual partner in the agency was originally intended to only be a guest role. However, Matthew Weiner was so impressed with her screen presence that she was promoted to a cast regular. Her career has stepped up a gear since taking the somewhat iconic role of Joan Harris, with roles in Nicholas Winding-Refn’s critically-acclaimed Drive and Sally Potter’s drama Ginger and Rosa. She’s also starred in two high-profile directorial debuts- fellow Mad Men alumni John Slattery’s crime drama God’s Pocket, and Ryan Gosling’s urban fairy tale Lost River.
Elisabeth Moss – Peggy Olson
Arguably the real central character of Mad Men, Moss’s turn as Peggy Olson has garnered her five Emmy nominations, and countless other awards. Olson’s evolution from shy office secretary to ambitious, confident and complex Copy Chief is handled masterfully by Moss, and she shows no sign of slowing down – her recent work includes award-winning performances as Detective Robin Griffin in mini-series Top of the Lake, and as one half of a struggling married couple undergoing unusual therapy in The One I Love.
John Slattery – Roger Sterling
Slattery was born to play the suave, charismatic and irresistible Roger Sterling, a character who is often cited as a fan favourite for obvious reasons. Since the series began, Slattery has expanded an already impressive filmography, with roles in Charlie Wilson’s War, Iron Man 2 and The Adjustment Bureau. He’s also directed several episodes of Mad Men, and made his feature directorial debut with crime drama God’s Pocket, which starred the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and fellow cast member Christina Hendricks.
Vincent Kartheiser – Pete Campbell
One of the most loathed characters in the series, the moral complexities of Pete Campbell are reflected in the audience’s equally complex relationship with the character. Vincent Kartheiser’s brilliant portrayal has often left viewers disgusted, frustrated, and occasionally elated (particularly when taken down a peg or two by Don Draper). Over the last few years, he has starred in an impressive range of both high-profile features and indie shorts, including Alpha Dog (the drama based on the life of drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood), short thriller Waning Moon, and sci-fi blockbuster In Time.
January Jones – Betty Francis
Jones originally auditioned for the role of Peggy Olson, but was eventually cast as the icy, Grace Kelly-esque Betty Francis (formerly Draper). Her difficult relationship with ex-husband Don, as well as her increasingly strained relationships with daughter Sally and husband Henry provide much of the drama in Season 7, as her inability to connect or empathise becomes increasingly problematic. Jones has since starred alongside Liam Neeson in action thriller Unknown, as well as Marvel super-villain Emma Frost in X Men: First Class.
Jessica Pare – Megan Draper
As the third Mrs Draper, Megan has proved a thoroughly divisive character, garnering sympathy as she struggles to deal with Don’s indiscretions, and also derision for her sometimes petty, immature behaviour towards others as she pursues an acting career. One thing that most agree on, however, is that Pare’s casting breathed new life into the show. Pare has since shown a penchant for comedy, starring in The Trotsky, Suck and Hot Tub Time Machine among others.
Kiernan Shipka – Sally Draper
Kiernan Shipka’s pitch-perfect performance as the troubled, wayward adolescent Sally has won her critical acclaim, and at the age of 14, she is one of the youngest to appear on rite-of-passage Inside the Actors Studio. Shipka’s portrayal of Sally’s teenage rebellion is masterful, and her scenes with on-screen parents Don and Betty are key highlights of Season 7. The fact that she is able to hold her own at such a young age amongst acting stalwarts is commendable in itself, but her recent appearances in TV movie Flowers in the Attic, and shorts A Rag Doll Story, Squeaky Clean and We Rise Like Smoke have further cemented her status as a formidable acting talent in the making.
Robert Morse – Bertram Cooper
Founding partner and self –assigned godfather of the office, Bertram Cooper’s eccentric ways often mask his wily and self-serving true nature, while frequently providing comic relief in tenser moments. Robert Morse is an acting stalwart and Broadway veteran, earning multiple nominations and wins for Tony’s, Drama Desk awards and Emmys over the course of five decades. Since joining the cast of Mad Men, he’s taken roles in dramedy-western The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez, as well as lending his voice to animations The Legend of Korra and Sofia the First.
Christopher Stanley – Henry Francis
Since joining the cast in 2009, Stanley’s character has evolved from Betty’s saviour to a subtle menace. Season 7 sees him slowly revealing an insidiously misogynistic side, leaving Betty considering the unpalatable idea she may have simply swapped one prison for another. Since 2009, Stanley has expanded his resume by starring in the critically acclaimed Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, as well as short film The Terrain.
Mad Men: Season 7, Part One is available to pre-order now, and is released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 3rd, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.