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5 Things You Still Don't Know About 'Mad Men,' According To Christopher Stanley

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 2/11/2015 Todd Van Luling

"Either fans are going to love me or they're going to hate me, depending on how you feel about [Don] Draper."

Actor Christopher Stanley laughed when recalling to The Huffington Post the moment "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner told him his character, Henry Francis, was going to marry the once Mrs. Draper. "One or the other."

Although, as Stanley says, "it could have gone so many ways," both Francis and Draper survived the rest of the series. Stanley thought at one point that Draper "was just going to go off into the sunset and get lost somewhere," but both characters made it to the last episode, in tears, but alive.

Along with leaving with a couple mementos -- such as Francis' trademark American flag pins -- Stanley picked up years of inside stories due to this longevity. Below are a few that he shared with HuffPost.

The conversation came ahead of the Lionsgate Entertainment release of "Mad Men: The Complete Collection" and "The Final Season: Part Two" on DVD and Blu-ray.

 

1. Stanley thought that Betty developing lung cancer, while the other (male) characters who smoked didn't, was a "raw deal."

"If you look at the shenanigans of all the other characters on that show, it seemed like one or two others could have met with a little bit more of a disastrous fate," said Stanley, after claiming, "I thought she got a raw deal."

Stanley appreciated the dramatic aspect that sometimes in life, "really bad shit happens to people who are undeserving of it," but still, he remembered "reading [the script] and just thinking, 'Poor Betty.'"

 

2. Filming the Betty and Francis scenes was like being on a separate show from Don and the advertising world. Stanley barely met the rest of the cast.

GQ once called Stanley's part of the show a "satellite ensemble," due to the storylines of the Francis household almost never bleeding into those of Madison Avenue. 

Stanley clarified the experience, claiming, "It was like working on a separate show," and further saying, "I didn't really see them much. It was like a different world for me."

With the added constraint that Stanley would often shoot at different times than the other cast members, the actor "didn't really get to know [the other storyline's actors] that well." He would see them at the occasional event.

 

3. Kiernan Shipka wasn't allowed to watch "Mad Men" until the series was almost over.  

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The perpetual themes of relationships and death in "Mad Men" are perhaps both too dark and illuminating for kids who are still in love with the world. As is the case, Shipka wasn't allowed to watch the series for much of her childhood. Even in 2013, the actress told HuffPost Live that she was, by the time of the interview, "probably allowed to watch them, but I don't, because obviously I wasn't allowed to at the beginning."

Shipka did end up Netflixing the series while sick sometime in 2014. Stanley, who played her step-father, recalled to HuffPost that the two would talk about how she hadn't watched the show. Stanley couldn’t confirm whether the other Draper children had similar bans.

 

4. Stanley didn't think Henry would feel remotely threatened by Glen Bishop.

Stanley repeatedly laughed at the notion Glen might have been a threat to Henry and Betty's relationship. "Well, knowing Henry, I don't think he would have been threatened by it, I don't," Stanley claimed.

"I think he would have seen it as something that Betty was searching for, and probably would have tried to address that with her," Stanley explained. "Address what it is: Her need, or her desire [for] this young, innocent boy? What was it that attracted her to that?"

Whatever Betty and Glen had, Stanley didn't think that Betty was attracted to the younger boy in a physical sense, and was rather drawn to the innocence he still had, but she'd lost. 

 

5. Matthew Weiner got Stanley to cry in the scene where Henry tells Sally her mother has cancer by forcing the actor to yell at Shipka to make her cry.

Stanley was starting to get frustrated with himself as he shot his second-to-last scene for the show, which had his character tell Sally that her mom was going to die. In the script, it was "clearly written" that Henry was supposed to break down and cry, but Stanley couldn't find the tears. After many takes, Weiner began to assure Stanley that the scene would still be all right if he didn't get to that emotional level, but Stanley insisted on an attempt.

Eventually, Weiner pulled Stanley aside and told him to yell at Shipka, which he first protested, but then tried out. Although this take didn't get used, the screaming was so intense that "Kiernan literally broke down and started crying," as Stanley explained.

"And that was the thing that ultimately made me cry ... It absolutely broke my heart," he said. "I remember when Matt called, 'Cut,' I just looked at him and said, 'You know, of all the different things we tried to get this emotion out of me, all you had to do was make me make a 14-year-old girl cry.'"

 

Bonus: This is what Henry saw in Betty.

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Here, at last, is an explanation to their relationship. 

I think he just saw a woman he could build a future with. I've always thought that Henry saw qualities in her that were beyond the physical attractiveness. He's a progressive guy, for the time period, and I feel like he wanted to help her realize her full potential. Not just as a mother, but as a person. And that was always much more of a struggle, probably much more of a bigger task than he ever anticipated. But I think he just believed in her. He believed in her. He believed in her point of view about things and saw the two of them building some sort of a partnership toward his success and, ultimately, her own success.
   

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