Actor Kevin Rahm talked about the character development of Mad Men's Ted Chaough, who in previous seasons was portrayed as a stray irritant to protagonist Don Draper.
With the new merger bringing Draper and Chaough's ad firms together, Rahm's character has been able to move up to the level of an established foil.
"[Matt Weiner] said [before season 6], 'We have big plans for you next year. Trust me, you're going to want to do this,'" Rahm told the Los Angeles Times, "but he didn't tell me any of the details."
The actor said he's never seen his character as a bad guy or any kind of instigator. In his earlier introductions he said fans would have only had a one-sided view of his character, through the eyes of everyone at Sterling Cooper.
"I never saw him as being smarmy or douchey," he said, "I always saw him as a competitor who wanted to get the best of Don, and obviously everything we knew about Ted up to that point was from Sterling Cooper's point of view."
Rahm sees Ted as a more modern character, in contrast to some of the others on the show. His character "handles things in a more modern way" for the time period the show is set in.
"He treats Peggy as a comrade as opposed to an underling and I think he wants the best out of his people, and he goes about it in a very different way than the Sterling Cooper men did before he got there."
The actor added that he once got a bad reaction from a friend/fan of the show who perhaps previously thought of Ted in a negative way. The friend, who is also a writer, addressed Rahm after episode 11 of season 5 aired.
"When I offered Peggy the job, he sent me a text that simply said, 'Leave Peggy alone,'" Rahm recalled.
He was pleased with the show's highly secretive writing process; the actor said he would not have been able to withold news of the merger if he had been alerted to it. However, his reputation as the anti-Don has been shaken this season by his relationship with Peggy. Tthough he has thus far resisted temptation, there is a suggestion it may not hold for long and Ted might go the way of his counterpart.
"Obviously she's an attractive woman," he said of his character's attraction to Peggy, "but I think she understands him and that's a huge turn-on. I think it's a lot about her drive and her talent."
Even if he remains faithful, Rahm does think Ted already posseses a characteristic similar to Don: an innate ability to shut down their emotions. He also sees extreme fidelity as Ted's means of coping.
"Ted just doesn't get drunk when he needs to shut down emotionally. I think that's the only difference I see so far," he said. "It's two sides of the same coin as far as how to handle the shutdown. I feel like Don, by opening his fly, shuts down. For Ted, zipping it up is his way to shut down."
To Rahm, and his character, getting on with it is the name of the game in season 6.
"It's a common theme so far this year. People, do your job."
Watch the preview for next Sunday's episode of Mad Men, The Quality of Mercy.