Yahoo! TV Q&A: ‘Mad Men’s’ Jared Harris on Lane Pryce’s swan song
Over five seasons of "Mad Men," we've seen a number of minor characters bite the dust: Betty's dad Henry, Don's first wife Anna, Miss Blankenship. But none of those deaths hit us as hard as the passing of the firm's endearingly stuffy accountant Lane Pryce, whose financial troubles led him to take his own life near the end of last season; Jared Harris, who played Lane for three seasons, earned a well-deserved Emmy nomination this year for his work.
With Season 5 coming out on DVD this week, we got the chance to chat with Harris about the physical awkwardness of shooting Lane's death scene, his memories of the great Lane-vs.-Pete office fight, and whether we might ever see Lane again walking the halls of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. (Hey, we saw Anna again, right?)
Our sincere condolences on the passing of Lane Pryce. He was a favorite character of ours.
Oh, thank you, yeah. Poor Lane.
When exactly did you find out that Lane was going to die?
After the read-through of episode 10 ["Christmas Waltz," where we saw Lane forging checks].
So kind of late in the season, then?
They don't reveal any plot lines to the actors. Normally, you find out when you read the script. Though [creator Matthew Weiner] gave me a bit of a heads-up.
At the same time, there was plenty of death foreshadowing throughout Season 5. Did you have an inkling that someone was going to die, even if it wasn't going to be you?
Not dying, I don't think. I think there was a feeling around base camp at the beginning of the season, based on some of the reports that had come out in the trade papers, that one of the season regulars was going to be thrown overboard. You know, more than that, though, actors are insecure and they're probably looking over their shoulder, you know? Everyone was wondering if it did happen, who it would be… and hoping it wouldn't be them, you know?
Were you surprised when you got the word? Because it came as a shock to viewers who didn't really know what was going on with Lane underneath the surface.
I mean, I wasn't surprised, but I was disappointed. I think Lane was in trouble from the very beginning of the season, in a sense that you could see that he had become isolated. He had no real relationship with Don in the sense that… who does, really? Because of knowing who he is. [Lane] has no respect for Roger Sterling, and he thought he'd made an ally out of Pete Campbell, but he hadn't. His biggest ally in the office was Joan, and she wasn't around. So I think from that sense, he had become politically isolated, and there's always that sense of office politics whenever you work in an environment like that.
And then, of course, in terms of what he did, it's one of those jobs that's not very sexy. People don't really respect their accountant. At the end of the tax year, they figure out what you owe. You don't know quite how they did it. You're grateful that they've done it, but you don't want to know any more about it than that, you know? He hasn't got a sexy job, and of course, in the end, people didn't put value in it. For me, when he says to Joan after the fight with Pete Campbell that she could do the job, I knew that Lane was definitely in trouble at that point.