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While Mad Men fans have devoted their most fervent sixth season speculation to Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) and newcomer Bob Benson (James Wolk), the character with the biggest boost in profile has been Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm). Don Draper’s bubblier rival, first introduced as a guest in season four, has seen his role completely redefined since the merger between firms SCDP and CGC.
Creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner tapped Rahm at the end of season five, promising big things for Ted — but, in typical Mad Men fashion, said nothing more. Then came the surprisingly drawn-out process of actually making it happen.
“That negotiation process went on for a long time, which is not normal,” Rahm told The Hollywood Reporter during a recent visit to the THR Cover Lounge. “Normally it’s last minute, trying to get a pilot or ‘we shoot in a week.’ This took three or four months… Matt called my managers and said, ‘Do it. Trust me. You want to do this. This is a big part.'”
The payoff was not immediate. Ted spent the first handful of episodes functioning just as he had before. And though Rahm was pleased just to be a part of the TV darling, he was getting antsy.
“The first five episodes was not really what we talked about and then episode six came out,” he said, referring to the merger that put him in the SCDP office and as Don’s (Jon Hamm) professional equal. “I did not see it coming. I think Lizzy [Elisabeth Moss] knew from the year before, and knew for five episodes while we were shooting together and never even hinted at it together.”
Moss’s Peggy Olson has been another big fixture in Ted’s current story. After sharing a kiss in the sixth episode, their star-crossed status has brought nothing but more frustration for Mad Men‘s beleaguered heroine.
But like every other player on the show, Rahm’s biggest scenes this season have perhaps been Ted’s moments of levity. Case in point: the rocky plane ride with Don, which spread like wildfire online within hours of the episode airing.
“I didn’t know what a GIF was until that point,” confesses Rahm. “That was my first GIF moment, and I happened to be in it. I’ve been immortalized in a GIF. I can die a happy man.”
Watch the complete interview with Kevin Rahm above. The season finale of Mad Men airs Sunday, June 23, at 9 p.m., on AMC.
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