While we’re happy to hear that Bryan Batt will be appearing on “Ugly Betty” as the series winds down, that wasn’t the announcement his fans have really been waiting for.
At the end of Season 3 of AMC’s “Mad Men,” Batt’s character Sterling Cooper’s art director, Sal Romano, was terminated after he didn’t give in to the sexual advances made by the son of one of their biggest clients.
Still without a contract for Season 4, Batt is in the dark as to whether he’ll be returning.
“I honestly don’t know,” Batt tells Zap2it. “[Creator] Matt Weiner has said in many interviews that they don’t kill characters on the show like they did on ‘The Sopranos.’ As of now, I really don’t know.”
When Batt heard the news that Sal was to be fired, it was a bittersweet moment for the actor.
“Have you ever had your heart fall to the bottom of your stomach,” he asked us. “It was that kind of feeling. It wasn’t clear whether I was off the show or was the character just being fired. At that time, I was also told the news that they weren’t sure if I would come back in the [final two] episodes. They were still in the process of writing. Then, when he told me the storyline, it was so fantastic. It’s bittersweet, but I don’t regret one moment of working on that show and being part of that family.”
Since the unceremonious firing, fans of Sal and Batt have taken up the cause of getting him back on “Mad Men.” This past January, a fan created a Facebook page dedicated to bringing him back and already it has close to 1,500 members. The gesture isn’t lost on Batt.
“It’s really an honor,” says Batt. “I think it’s also a strong testament to Matt Weiner’s great writing and the writing staff who’ve created this character that all types of people really identify with. A lot of times it’s women telling me, ‘please tell me you’re not going.’ I have a few candles lit here and there.”
Batt’s character was in the midst of a very intense storyline about his coming out. Sal’s termination can be taken as a “sign of the times,” with the show set in the still intensely proper (and homophobic) world of the early to mid-60s.
Despite the fact that his status with the show is in limbo, Batt sees great potential for the character in the future.
“I would love to see, and this is just me speculating, because I have no idea how many years [the show’s] going into the future,” Batt says. “They should have Sal somehow connected with when The Beatles play on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ I would love for him to be part of the revolution when the whole country does a 180 in the 60s – how he would fit in to the fabric of that society after that. It would be quite interesting.”
The “Mad Men” Season 3 DVD set will be available on March 23, so we asked Batt what his favorite scenes from the season were.
“To be completely selfish, I love the firing of Sal episode,” he says. “But I have to say the scene when I act out ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ for my wife, Kitty, played by the lovely Sarah Drew. I had so much fun. And bar none, the scene where the guy from Putnam, Powell & Lowe gets slammed by the John Deere tractor. I begged to be in that scene. I just wanted to get splattered with the blood [laughs]. So gruesome. I’ve never done anything like that. It was a hysterical, wonderful episode.”
Over the years, Batt has also written short stories about his mother and growing up with her in New Orleans. They made their way to Random House, who asked if he could write an entire narrative. She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Mother, comes out in May. The actor turned writer wants to make it clear that he actually wrote the “mom-oir,” as he calls it, since many assume that celebrities turn to ghost writers.
“It’s one of the few things my ADHD didn’t stop me from doing,” jokes Batt. “She was a steel magnolia. The kind of person that could tell someone to go to hell and they’d ask for directions and say thank you. So many things that I learned from her – not just from telling me, but from example.”
In the spirit of his mother, Batt has chased other passions in his life, such as design. He opened a home decorations shop called Hazelnut in New Orleans. And recently, he designed a loveseat for Playboy’s 50th anniversary called “The Hef.” Only fifty of them will be sold and Playboy founder, Hugh Hefner, has signed every one of them.
“My mother taught me that defeat is not an option,” explains Batt. “If you believe in something, you have to keep on trying and not give up.”
Bryan Batt will appear in the Wed. April 7 episode of “Ugly Betty” on ABC.
Photo credit: AMC