Interview with Michael Gladis

Michael Gladis, who is often compared with Orson Wells because of his looks, gave myFanbase an interview. The actor who worked a lot on stage talks about his character Paul on "Mad Men", his friendship with other cast members, his upcoming project and what he does in his spare time.


The interview is © myFanbase 2009. Please do not copy it to other websites or messageboards.

1. It always seemed as if Paul and Joan were getting closer from time to time but a real relationship was never a subject of discussion. Then they had other partners. Has all been said and done or will their storyline come up again?

Paul and Joan had a relationship in the past. It's brought up for a second in the pilot, and then they talk about it more in ep. 12 of the first season, when after all of the antics of the Nixon/Kennedy office party are over, they sit on the steps and talk. It's one of my favorite scenes. Paul asks: "What did I do wrong?". Joan replies: "You have a big mouth." That about says everything we need to know.
As to your question of if there is a possible future for the two of them, my only answer (and the only answer you'll be likely to get from any cast member about future plot lines) is "I have no idea." We are not told anything about our characters or the plots of the episodes until right before we shoot, when we read the script for the first time. It's frustrating, but then again, you get Christmas twice a month every time a script arrives at your door.
I do hope that Paul and Joan have more scenes together, as I enjoy the tension between the two characters... and Christina Hendricks is a good friend and wonderful to work with.

2. Paul has an African-American girlfriend. Especially in the Sixties this was very delicate, but there hasn't really been a focus on this plot yet. Will this storyline get a bigger part in season three?

Again - I don't know what will happen with Paul and Sheila. When Paul got home from the south it was mentioned that Sheila had broken up with him in the middle of the trip, but who knows? Anything's possible.

3. Did you audition for the part of Paul? What tempted you most in getting this role?

I did audition for "Mad Men". I was cast as a character named Dick in the pilot. Ken, Dick, and Harry were supposed to be this sort of greek chorus - interchangeable office workers - we were all supposed to be account executives. After we got picked up, Matt started writing us as three very distinct people with different positions within Sterling Cooper- they changed the name of my character to Paul and made him a copywriter. Ken stayed in accounts and Harry went into the media department. Aaron Staton (Ken) Rich Sommer (Harry) and I are all good friends, and I'm lucky to work with them.

4. In "Mad Men" every character is smoking nearly all the time. Are you a smoker yourself? How do non-smokers deal with this?

I started smoking cigarettes at age 14, and was a 3/4 to 1 pack a day smoker from age 16 until 2 months ago. So, yes, I was a smoker for 17 years. I am very happy to be free of them. All of the cigarettes smoked on set are herbal - they smell like burning kitty-litter but have no nicotine. I smoke a pipe on "Mad Men", however, and so I smoke tobacco (it's the only thing that burns right). I am a little worried about re-introducing nicotine into my system, but am confident I'll stay quit from cigarettes.

5. For the part of Paul you had to deal with advertisement and marketing. Did you change your point of view on advertisement because of that? What do you pay more attention to now?

Of course I'm aware of advertising- I think we all are. It's all around us, has been from the day we were born and will be till the last... I guess I'm a little more aware of the wording and concepts of the ads themselves... but if it's a particularly good ad, then it's like a good movie- I don't analyze it, I just enjoy the experience of it's message and then think about it later.

6. When and why did you decide to become an actor?

I was a Painter, but dropped out of art school to become an actor at age 18. The simplest explanation is that I enjoyed the collaborative aspect of the theater, as opposed to the isolation of the painting studio. I found the product of collected effort and inspiration towards one goal to be very satisfying, and fun... and there were lots of cute girls around.

7. You are more of a theatre actor than one in front of the camera. Nevertheless you have experience in both of them. What’s the main difference for you and which way of acting do you like most?

I love them both. I did lots of theater for the first 9 years of my career when I lived in NYC, and will always want to return to the theater, but am very much enjoying working in front of the camera now- mainly because the writing on "Mad Men" is so exceptional. It's better (in my humble opinion) than most new work being produced for either the stage or screen. Acting is about telling stories- in the theater you do it live every night for a congregation of people, which is the most immediately rewarding thing an actor can do. On film it is piecemeal and you only get a few shots at any given scene/moment, and so much of how it's presented later is out of your control that it can be frustrating, but it's also uniquely satisfying in that there is a sense of permanence. It's there forever (which can be horrifying to think about as well)- but in the case of "Mad Men", I'm just honored to be included in telling this story because I think it's a beautiful one to be able to tell.

8. Are there any new projects coming up that you can tell us about?

I did a short film in Paris this winter that will hopefully make it to some festivals, and may be doing an independent film in NY until the start of "Mad Men".

9. What are you doing in your spare time when you are not on set? What hobbies do you have?

I like to aggravate Rich Sommer. I like to camp. I love to travel. I watch a lot of movies and read a lot. I try to go to the boxing gym or run around the lake near my house as much as I can. I play the guitar just about every day- that's my main creative outlet when I'm not acting.

10. What is your favorite place in the world? Where do you feel most comfortable?

The hammocks on my porch here in L.A. with a view of the Silverlake reservoir is a great place to be. I've spent many many hours in those hammocks... good ones.

11. Have you ever been to Germany or do you have plans to come here? What do you associate with Germany?

I have never been to Germany. I took 2 semesters of German in college, but remember absolutely none of it because I've never had the opportunity to use it since. I was going to try to do this interview in German, but all of my answers would have been 3 words long. I would love to visit one day, though.

12. Since myFanbase is an online magazine about TV series do you have a favorite one?

At the risk of sounding like a "company man", AMC's other series "Breaking Bad" is absolutely incredible. That's the only series I try to watch as it airs. I also make sure that I see "The Office", "30 Rock", and "Flight of the Chonchords".

As a final note- thanks so much for doing this. I used Google translator to deliver a message to your readers in German: "Vielen Dank, dass Sie gerade unsere Show!"

I hope it means what I meant to say, which is "Thanks so much for watching our show!". If not... well... I hope it's no worse than "Ich bin ein Berliner".

Catherine Bühnsack - myFanbase