Mad Men's Bryan Batt: "I Hope There's More to Sal"
Bryan Batt, Mad Men
For Mad Men's Bryan Batt, looking back at the AMC drama's third season is bittersweet.
Mad Men: What's next for Sal?
Yes, Batt's character, closeted art director Salvatore Romano, received ample screen time and emotional story lines. It's just that the most gripping episode of his arc may have been his very last on the show.
In the episode, Sal refused the advances of the son of Sterling Cooper's largest client. In the fallout, he was fired, and his character did not appear in the remainder of the season. Batt says he hasn't been approached about returning for Season 4, which begins airing this summer.
"I don't know what's happening with my character," Batt tells TVGuide.com. "The only thing I can hold onto is that [series creator Matt Weiner] said in an interview, he's not dead. So it's kind of in limbo, and limbo's getting very crowded. As far as I know, nothing's on the table."
Exclusive: Mad Men's Bryan Batt to guest-star on Ugly Betty
Still, Batt is looking on the bright side: He has an upcoming guest-starring role in Ugly Betty and is set to release a memoir, She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother, on May 4. And he has no hard feelings about his character's fate.
"So many people are very passionate about Sal," Batt says. "I think it really is a testament to great writing, and... creating a character that people really care about. What happens to him resonates on so many levels."
Batt says he'd jump at the chance to return to Mad Men, and believes there are plenty of options left for his character. "Who knows what Duck is going to be doing, and also who knows how far into the future we'll go?" Batt says. "The last time we saw Sal, he was a commercial director, so there's [that] aspect that could grow. One of the producers said to me, there's not one word of dialogue that's extraneous to the show; every word means something. If you go back and listen to what was said to Sal during the firing, it's quite telling. It leaves every possibility open."
Mad Men's Bryan Batt on his jaw-dropping scene
Batt, who is gay, says having a gay character on the show helps explore the cultural changes of the '60s. "It's not just the gay issue; it speaks on all levels of any kind of hidden secrets, any closeted life," Batt says. "If you're keeping some secret, it's going to come out. Sal's story is still happening today right in front of us. On so many levels it mirrors what's going on today."
Batt doesn't think Sal was fired because of his sexuality, even though Don (Jon Hamm) discovered it in the premiere episode of Season 3, just released on DVD and Blu-ray.
"Don's hands were completely tied because of the client," Batt says. "There were so many other opportunities for this to be rectified in so many different ways, but... when it got to that point, there was no going back. While a lot of people think he was fired for being gay, I don't think he was. The fact that he didn't take one for the team was part of the equation."
Sal's final moments only added to the sadness: He calls home to his wife from a phone booth, in a seedy part of the park, to say he'll be "working late." Batt says he hopes for a happier ending for the character.
"I hope there's more to Sal because I don't want to leave him there, although that definitely is a possibility or alternative with so many men at the time," Batt says. "But that's one aspect of the show. There is this tragic sense that bad things constantly happen to good people. Sal did play by the rules; he did everything he was supposed to do, and he was thrown under the bus."
(Additional reporting by Robyn Ross)