Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner on the End of the Show and Life After Don Draper
The '60s are about to end all over again, and with them the saga of Don Draper. Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner has taken the first steps into crafting the seventh and final season of the acclaimed AMC series. Attending the 2013 Creative Arts Emmys as a presenter Sunday, Weiner revealed to TV Guide Magazine that he's already landed on the precise endpoint, which will mark the climax for both the turbulent 1960s and for the ad team at Sterling Cooper & Partners.
TV Guide Magazine: Where are you in the development of the final season of Mad Men?
Matthew Weiner: I am a month into it, and all I can tell you is that it will be a completely new story and it will wrap up the end of the show. I have my very ending, and I have the pathway on the way into it. All I can say is that it's related to the era that we're in, and that it will be the next chapter in Don's life. I know it sounds vague, but it really is. I always liked the fact that the show has, on some level, uniqueness that the consequences of people's actions are taken seriously. We never pretend like stuff doesn't happen, and that's really where we're starting. Like, can you do something that is irreparable?
TV Guide Magazine: Creatively, as you head towards the finish line, has the experience been exciting? Bittersweet? Somewhere in between?
Weiner: It's not bittersweet yet. I mean, we did have our last 'first day,' and someone said that to me, and I was like, 'Wow — that is bittersweet.' But really, I'm trying to appreciate it. I have this incredible orchestra, this huge box of toys, the support of the network and the studio, the support of my cast, a very, very talented and experienced writing staff. And so you kind of don't want to blow it. And I always am there. That's where I get: I'm still standing on the edge of the platform and someone just threw me the trapeze. That's where I go. I'm not at bittersweet yet.
TV Guide Magazine: Your feature film debut as writer-director, You Are Here with Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis, was just presented at the Toronto Film Festival. How was your filmmaking experience?
Weiner: Oh, it was great. It was very different than the show. Working with an entirely new cast, I brought my crew with me, so that mitigated a lot of the difference, but an entirely new cast. You've got to earn their trust, and you've got to tell a totally different story. And I really wanted to push myself. It's very different than Mad Men, and that was the biggest challenge for me, to say, 'Can I do this mix of genres that is both comic and has this poignancy to it?' Hopefully, the audience will be open to it, but I refuse to be restricted or labeled by people's expectations. I have stories I want to tell, and I have to believe the audience, they've followed me so far. I still don't know what Mad Men is. I don't know what genre it is. I don't know how the story works. It's never the same. You can tell that it's not like I learned a lesson on how to give people what they want.
TV Guide Magazine: After Mad Men, do you think you have more stories to tell specifically on television?
Weiner: Yes, absolutely. I don't know what the time frame's going to be, but there is nothing to replace the immediacy and the luxury of having everything that you write get shot. It sounds egotistical. It's just on the most primitive level, that is a luxury that you never expected to have. I don't expect Mad Men to happen again, but I love the process and I love the immediate interaction with the audience.
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