John Slattery on the Challenges of Directing Episodes of ‘Mad Men’

It’s becoming increasingly common for actors on long-running television shows to step behind the camera and direct episodes of the series.  After directing two episodes in season of four of Mad Men and a third in season five, John Slattery — who stars on the show as Roger Sterling — is directing two more for the upcoming sixth season according to The Hollywood Reporter.   While talking to the magazine, Slattery talks about the challenges of starring in a show while also directing it.

Slattery points out that there are more challenges to directing an episode than in acting in one.  He says, “It takes a lot more time.  You have a hand in the whole thing, and each one takes about a month, from a directorial standpoint. From the time you get the script to the time you turn your cut in, it’s a month. And it’s a long month.”

For a show as secretive as Mad Men, it becomes an even tougher task for a director of the show.  He reveals, “You get [the script] a little in advance of when the actors get it, but only for the necessity of preproduction.  And they used to try — and they still do try — to limit the amount you’re [acting] in it, but I think we’ve all kind of gotten a grip on what that’s like, so they don’t have to make as much of an effort. And so, yeah, you get what you get. Especially with us. Jon Hamm is directing as well, so we’re there. So our schedules are kind of easier for them to figure out because the other directors come in and out.”

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