by Larry on 20/03/12 at 4:51 pm
Mad Men returns after a seventeen month scheduled hiatus full of insider machinations and salary negotiations that would have made Machiavelli pause for breath. In honor of its return, former advertising and marketing professional-turned-comic book writer and publisher Larry Young channels his inner Will Ferrell and instead of doing a full Mexican telenovella straight, answers Jon Hamm’s interview questions from Playboy:
PLAYBOY: For a while it looked like you might lose your job. Contract negotiations between Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and AMC delayed the fifth season for about a year, and there was some speculation the show wouldn’t return. Was the wait frustrating?
YOUNG: Well, sure, I love good TV as much as anyone. But to tell the truth, I hadn’t seen episode one of the thing as I just didn’t want to see a show about advertising, like a doctor doesn’t want to watch ER or a cop want to see Southland. But over the year-and-a-half break, a couple of pals told me MM had as much to do about advertising as Star Wars has to do with physics, and told me to check it out. I cracked through the four seasons in about two months on Netflix, and here we are. I’m now as frustrated and elated as everyone else.
PLAYBOY: But as an actor who just wanted to get back to work, did you worry it was ruining the show’s momentum? A year is a long time to make an audience wait.
YOUNG: Jeez, I hate to be pedantic, but I’m not an actor and seventeen months is more like a year-and-a-half.
PLAYBOY: On 30 Rock Alec Baldwin once said that beautiful people live in a bubble of free drinks, kindness, and outdoor sex. He was referring to your character, a dumb but attractive doctor named Drew Baird, but do those same rules apply to you?
PLAYBOY: When was the last time you had outdoor sex?
YOUNG: Must have been five years or so ago, now. I’m not getting any younger, you know. I don’t need twigs and berries all up in my twigs and berries.
PLAYBOY: What about free drinks? Have you paid for a drink since Mad Men became a hit?
YOUNG: Of course. You should see the AiT tab at San Diego.
PLAYBOY: Don Draper enjoys the brown liquors. Do you indulge?
YOUNG: Sure; I love the single malt Scotch. Not so much as I used to. Certainly more than outdoor sex, though.
PLAYBOY: What’s the manliest thing you’ve ever done? Have you ever overhauled a car engine or popped a dislocated shoulder back after an injury?
YOUNG: I cut granite for two years between my junior and senior year of undergrad. Turning big rocks into little rocks is a manly occupation.
PLAYBOY: What? How is that possible?
YOUNG: Steel bars, lead shot, and lime slurry will wear through anything. Five days to go through an eight foot tall block.
PLAYBOY: You hurt yourself twice?
YOUNG: I dropped a slab on my foot once, and I wrenched my back pretty good trying to move a piece so yeah. Only twice. Wouldn’t call it getting “hurt,” though. Not really a lot of injuries.
PLAYBOY: By “a lot of injuries,” what are we talking about exactly?
YOUNG: Dropped slab on foot. Wrenched back. I think I cut my finger once splicing an electrical cord together. No biggie.
PLAYBOY: After four seasons of playing Don Draper, does hedonism seem fun to you anymore?
YOUNG: It’s a professional commitment. I think I’ve been hedonistic for more than four seasons.
PLAYBOY: Does Don still derive genuine joy from all the booze and recreational sex? Or did he ever?
YOUNG: I don’t know about Don, but I know I do.
PLAYBOY: For all the bad things about Don, he has some admirable qualities, such as his reticence. Is there power in being quiet and not revealing everything about yourself?
YOUNG: I think I’m on the Internet way too much daily to have anyone take my answer to that question seriously.
PLAYBOY: In your defense, doing interviews is part of your job.
YOUNG: It’s true.
PLAYBOY: Do you have the emotional stoicism of Don Draper, or are you a heart-on-your-sleeve kind of guy? Will you cry at a sad movie?
YOUNG: I’m a full-on sap. You can’t do what I do and not be plugged into emotion. I cried like a little baby at the last twenty minutes of Toy Story 3.
PLAYBOY: Because it relates to your own life?
YOUNG: Of course.
PLAYBOY: Your mother died when you were 10 years old. You were so young; did you even realize what was happening?
YOUNG: No, Shirl the Girl is still with us. When she does die, though, my sister and I are going to put on her headstone: “Too bad she died; she made good pies.” Very Ukrainian, that.
PLAYBOY: She died of cancer?
YOUNG: No, that was my dad.
PLAYBOY: Do you remember anything about her last days, or is it just a blur?
YOUNG: Like I said, she’s still kicking.
PLAYBOY: Your father passed away 10 years later, when you were in college. Was that easier or harder?
YOUNG: Actually, I’d been married for eight years.
PLAYBOY: You were officially an orphan.
YOUNG: Well, Ma lives in South Carolina, and we’re in California, but I wouldn’t call that being orphaned.
PLAYBOY: If your parents had lived, would your life have gone in a different direction?
YOUNG: What, you mean like dressing up like a bat and fighting crime?
PLAYBOY: Would you have been an actor?
YOUNG: Or an endorser.
PLAYBOY: There was a moment during the production of Mad Men when you looked at yourself in the mirror of your dressing room, dressed in Don Draper’s suit, and realized that the character looked a lot like your dad. What were the similarities?
YOUNG: Well, my dad smoked and drank, so there’s that.
PLAYBOY: Do you still use your dad as inspiration for Don Draper?
YOUNG: Everyone’s father inspires them. I’m sure his father inspired him.
PLAYBOY: Did you ever ask him about it?
YOUNG: No, I’m not sure I cared enough about it to process it.
PLAYBOY: Or the emotional maturity, probably.
YOUNG: Well, you don’t have to be a dick.
PLAYBOY: If you had a chance to have a conversation with your father or your mother today, what would you ask them?
YOUNG: As a dad myself now, I’d sure like to know how my dad worked ten hour days and still made us think he was around. He went on field trips, coached soccer and basketball teams. Thinking back, I always thought he was there. But there’s no way; he worked like a dog. I’d want to know the trick to that.
PLAYBOY: If it had been an option, could you see yourself being the fourth generation in your family’s business?
YOUNG: I sort of am. All the hustle of the last three generations culminate in advertising and marketing and storytelling and all.
PLAYBOY: But you sell yourself in auditions, right?
YOUNG: Every minute of every day is an audition for somebody for something.
PLAYBOY: Didn’t you audition six times for Mad Men?
YOUNG: No, like I said, I just got around to watching it. Come to find out my old college roommate really liked it, though.
PLAYBOY: Why didn’t he tell you?
YOUNG: Aw, he’s got a couple kids. We talk about dad stuff, now.
PLAYBOY: You’ve said you were at the bottom of their list of actors. How did you know?
YOUNG: Well, I’m not a professional actor and I’m a little camera-shy. I imagine I’m on the bottom of everyone’s list of actors.
PLAYBOY: How did you find out you had the job?
YOUNG: I popped open an Anchor Steam in the living room and announced to Mimi: “Now, we are publishers.”
PLAYBOY: Did you think all the attention was for you?
YOUNG: Not at all. I’m just the front man to take the hit for our talented creators. If someone is yammering at me, they’re not taking shots at Adam Beechen.
PLAYBOY: Your first play was a first-grade production of Winnie-the-Pooh.
YOUNG: Naw, I was the Badger in The Wind in the Willows.
PLAYBOY: In high school you were both a jock and a theater kid, right?
YOUNG: Yeah, I played soccer and basketball, fenced a little, and wore a big floppy brown felt fedora, too. Fourth Doctor.
PLAYBOY: Those two worlds don’t often intermingle, especially in high school. Did your jock friends give you grief about doing plays, or vice versa?
YOUNG: No one has jock friends.
PLAYBOY: It’s a big age for self-doubt.
YOUNG: It wasn’t for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had self-doubt.
PLAYBOY: Were sports also just a fun thing to do, or did you ever consider going pro?
YOUNG: I just liked to run around.
PLAYBOY: In what way?
YOUNG: You know; the up-and-down-the-field sort of way.
PLAYBOY: You moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s with just $150 in your pocket. Did you seriously think that would be enough?
YOUNG: Well, I was only there for 90 days.
PLAYBOY: That must have been quite a trip for you to remember every leg of it more than 15 years later.
YOUNG: I did get my nose broken in the LA riots. You tend to remember that kind of stuff.
PLAYBOY: Just in time for dinner?
YOUNG: No, right after. The first game of the basketball playoffs were letting out, and it was right there at Florence and Normandy. We got out for gas, and my friend got jumped when he went to pay. I went to help, and I got popped.
PLAYBOY: That sounds vaguely depressing.
YOUNG: My sunglasses didn’t sit right until I had the bone set back in.
PLAYBOY: And then came the hard part.
YOUNG: Naw, they put me out. I slept through it.
PLAYBOY: What’s it like socializing with comics?
YOUNG: I don’t exactly socialize with them. I write and publish them.
PLAYBOY: But you can hold your own with comics.
YOUNG: Yeah, Astronauts in Trouble got a shout-out in The Fourteenth Annual Year’s Best Science Fiction and Horror, I made Entertainment Weekly’s Must List and “legend” status in The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels, and Rich Johnston once wrote that I reinvented comics for the twenty-first century so I’m doing all right.
PLAYBOY: You’re being humble. What about that sex scene with Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids? You definitely weren’t just keeping a straight face there.
YOUNG: I haven’t seen that flick yet. I gotta kid, you know.