March 25, 2012 4:38pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'Mad Men' Premiere: The Cast Teases Season 5
The cast of Mad Men has a rather daunting task when talking about their series: they have to do it without really saying anything. And since Sunday's Season 5 premiere marks the end of a 525-day absence from television, they've had a lot of questions to deflect.
The time period, marital statuses, paternities and workplace alliances on the AMC series all remain relatively well-guarded mysteries.
Still, when The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Jon Hamm, Kiernan Shipka, John Slattery and a few others at the series' PaleyFest panel and Los Angeles premiere, the group spoke of a few details about what to expect this season.
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Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling, says his character's two heart attacks in Season 1 have him constantly aware of his mortality on the series.
"I think they were talking about cutting characters out of the show this season," he said. "Any of us could go at any time. I hope I stay until the end, [but] story-wise, I could see it happening."
And Roger wasn't making the biggest contribution at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce when the series left off -- something that holds true in the return. His personal life, however, has a bit more going on. He may have fathered the child Joan (Christina Hendricks) decided to keep.
With more of a focus on young Sally Draper in the last season, and her evolving relationship with her father, Shipka says Sally and Don (Hamm) will probably be in a different place now that he's bringing a new mother figure into her life.
"She loved Megan [Jessica Paré] as a nanny, but who knows how she's going to like her as don's... girlfriend," Shipka told THR, tripping over how to label the character.
Whether Don and Megan have tied the knot already is an answer to expect in the premiere, but when THR caught up with Hamm, he spoke of the second episode, which he directed.
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"It was a blast," he said. "It was the first one we shot, but it won't be the first one we air... It was fun because we had such a long layoff. It was nice to come back and have everybody excited and reinvigorated and really just happy to be back at work. That part felt like an extra special pleasure."
And that second episode is the next chance fans will have of seeing January Jones as Betty Francis (formerly Draper). Pregnant when filming began, she doesn't appear in the season premiere.
"I think, creatively, Matthew [Weiner] just wanted to f--k with people, basically, and have them wonder where Betty is because there was so much going on about how we were going to shoot it because I was pregnant when we first started the show this season," she told THR.
Another lady not guaranteed placement in every episode is Alison Brie, who plays Pete Campbell's (Vincent Kartheiser) wife Trudie and has a full-time job on NBC's Community. When asked if she'd be seen this season, Kartheiser would only say how much he enjoyed where their relationship has landed.
"She's one of the most talented people I've ever worked with," he said. "I love the scenes I have with her. It's been cool over the last few years to fall into that marriage."
He also did a brief recreation of Pete and Trudie's Charleston, which you can see in the video interview below: