'Mad Men' Star Aaron Staton Talks Ambiguous Exits and Eye Patches

The actor, who got a surplus of screentime during the midseason opener, talks about the open-ended nature of Ken Cosgrove's professional development.
Michael Yarish/AMC
'Mad Men'

Spoiler-phobes should find some comfort in the way the Mad Men team is handling these final episodes — even what appears to be a clear exit is greeted with a coy shrug.

Those who haven't seen the seventh season's mid-opener, "Severance," should not read any further. As the title of the episode implies, somebody got canned from SC&P. It was Ken Cosgrove, the wry, one-eyed, writerly account executive played since the pilot by actor Aaron Staton. And though it seems as though he won't be around for any more of the final six episodes, Staton is toeing the company line and keeping mum.

"When reading that scene, I felt like there's a world where that is a sweet goodbye," Staton told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday morning. "Whether it is or isn't [laughs]... You've boxed me in here."

Staton could certainly stick around, especially since he spitefully took a gig on the client side at Dow Chemical, but the surplus of screen time so close to the series finale made it play like an ending. If we ever do get a glimpse of what he might be like on the opposite end of the conference room from his former colleagues, Staton doesn't think Ken was kidding when he stormed off at the end of the episode.

"I think he envisions taking any opportunity to just make things as hard as possible for them," says Staton. "I don't think he pictures a world where he just walks away from a pitch without commentary. 'The artwork? Not quite what we had in mind.' He knows what it's like to work with the client, so he knows how to make it difficult."


Ken Cosgrove's legacy, however, will always be that eye patch. Losing his right peeper to a hunting accident while entertaining freewheeling Chevrolet clients at the end of season six, his last two years on the show have been all about that patch — which Staton confirms he kept as a souvenir.

"The world looks very bizarre through one eye," he says, eulogizing his prop, "but the pirate jokes, the depth perception gags — they always made that fun to play."