The World According to Bert Cooper

by Tom Watson
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As I mentioned in our last outing, the life in the edges in Mad Men is often more entertaining than the faux suburban turmoil that makes up the lives of Don and Betty Draper. The world of Sterling Cooper is really coming into its own in season two, even as the cardboard angst of Ossining (a bizarre choice to begin with) begins to fade. One of the great characters from those edges is the firm’s founder and senior partner, Bert Cooper, played with (sound)stage presence by the veteran Robert Morse. Almost all of the Morse scenes are good ones, and his character is the moral center of life at the firm – his square seniority balanced by the picaresque ways of his junior, Roger Sterling.

Over at AMC’s Mad Men site, there’s a short interview with Morse and i think it captures some of the enthusiasm around creating the Sterling Cooper atmosphere. Live-blogging starts at 10 tonights, so in lieu of a longer post, here’s an excerpt:

Q: Do you feel like you’re stepping back in time with Mad Men?

A: Not really stepping back in time, but there are many values and things in the script that are reminiscent — secretaries and typewriters, etc. — of my days when How to Succeed [in Business Without Really Trying] was on Broadway. So it is a reminder of things past, a little Proustian. Otherwise, it’s fun wearing a goatee and a mustache and having my hair plastered down. It’s fun to look completely different than you are. They write Bert Cooper very cleverly. He’s an oddball. He walks around with no shoes, his office is completely decorated in early Japanese stuff. He has these fun, odd quirks.

Q: Is it true you visit the set, even on days when you’re not filming?

A: That’s right. Exactly. I love to go into the studio on days when I’m not even doing anything. It’s like my senior club. Some people go to senior centers, well I go to my senior center. I think I’m the oldest of the group — the only one who has lived through this period. I just love this show: I show up and hit the marks and say the lines and go home. And then show up the next day with the paper and visit with everybody and have a free lunch.

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Comments

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    I just watched last week's episode, and the agency stories were great. Do I are about Don and Betty's phony marriage? Naw.

  • September 14, 2008

    Testing, testing. Dusting off the live-blogging cobwebs.

  • September 14, 2008

    Okay Tom, are we going to have the Titanic discussion? The film came out in 1958–surely the good Fr. and Peggy would here that echo.

  • September 14, 2008

    Did he just say Maytag is “very sensitive to Calvinism???””

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    Yeah no question they would – you should be happy the so-called “Catholic” plot line is back – plenty of snark material

  • September 14, 2008

    Roger never looked more like Larry Tate than in this classic Betwitched entertaining-the-client dinner scene.

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    I like Duck – guilty confession. Indeed, I'm enjoying the S-C ensemble.

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    I'm slightly distracted tonight by the financial Armageddon unfolding on Wall Street…

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    Larry Tate wore the befuddled look brilliantly – how cool would it be if Betty wiggled her nose? She'd be a lot more interesting.

  • September 14, 2008

    Don't you bring no reality into the Mad Men zone Tom. Drink a Manhattan unlike the urge to care about real life goes away, just like Don.

  • September 14, 2008

    Pro bono “clients.” The reason never to volunteer–

  • wedgito
    September 14, 2008

    why don't the SC guys ever go visit the clients? would love to see other offices too.

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    Tell me about it!

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    Don never seems to worry about that bottom line…

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    Too much budget…

  • September 14, 2008

    Woa–Betty speaks! Betty finds the words she has needed to say for a long time. Pretty big character development.

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    Joan's got a future in television!

  • September 14, 2008

    LOVE the Maytag guys.

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    Yeah…the ad business is actually getting better – they listened to what we said here last year, obviously.

  • tomwatson
    September 14, 2008

    Hey, that's St. Patrick's across the street from Roger's office!

  • September 14, 2008

    I hope Joan finds her voice about this—