Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner Talks Don Draper and Inspiration For Season 6 – Exclusive
Mad Men has already earned 15 Emmy Awards over its run and stands to collect a few more this awards season. At Saturday night’s Creative Arts Emmys ceremony, we caught up with the show’s master storyteller, creator Matthew Weiner, to talk about Don Draper’s mindset and morality, as well as Matthew’s inspiration for the hit series’ sixth season.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What do you love most about Don Draper? Matthew Weiner: Oh, I like that his heroism comes from talking. I love that, I love that he doesn’t need a gun. He’s sometimes a little physical, but I think that his brain and his mouth have been his weapon, and I love that about him. And I also think that as immoral as most of his behavior is, according to the Ten Commandments, I think he does have a code. I kind of always respect that — I think he loves the underdog, and I’m with him on that.
How do you get us to love him and root for him even in the midst of his immorality? I can’t take credit for that — that’s me writing a very ambiguous character and letting Jon Hamm say it. Jon Hamm has a vulnerability and intelligence and brings his history with him — his personal history — as mysterious as that is, too. And you get a three-dimensional person that makes people root for him. I don’t think it would work with another person — I don’t care what I was writing. And [Don] occasionally does the right thing. You know, we recognize another generation of men that couldn’t really express themselves. And I love that, every once in awhile, his emotions burst forward, and you’re like, “Oh, you poor, wounded little boy!”
What is Don Draper’s biggest fault? I think he’s afraid of looking stupid a lot of times; and I think he’s very, very jealous.
Jealous? Hmm, of what? I see that a lot in him. I do. There’s a lot of jealousy in the show. I think there’s just a kind of — not as bad as Pete — but I think there’s a kind of feeling like, “I was given this problem in life, and it somehow doesn’t seem fair.” If you had disadvantages, then that’s just the way it is. You may never accept that.
Coming into Season 6, where do you find your inspiration to write? It’s a very mysterious process. There was something said the first season — Don said it in the pilot, actually. He said, “Fear stimulates my imagination.” There’s something about having a deadline and having to deliver... usually something happens to me, and of course I pick a period, I pick a year, I look at the world, I look at my life, I look at what we’ve already done, and that’s somehow how it happens. It’s a very esoteric idea that’s usually holding it together. It sometimes ends up on a poster, and sometimes it doesn’t end up in the show at all, but it’s something that’s on my mind.