Lane Pryce’s suicide on Sunday’s (June 3) episode of “Mad Men” was, says actor Jared Harris, his character’s final F.U. to Don Draper and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce — a company where he believed he’d never got his due in terms of stature and financial gain.
“It was vindictive and it was a passive aggressive act,” says Harris in a conference call the day after his character’s exit from the show. “His choice of doing it there was a f*** you to the office and to Don. And the topper to that was the boiler plate suicide note. He’s trying to dig a hole and make Don feel like he was wrong and make them feel as bad as they made him feel.”
“It was a cowardly act,” he adds.
Even though Harris is sorry to leave a show that he describes as “still building,” he gets show creator Matt Weiner’s decision to end Lane Pryce’s life when he did. It makes sense, explains Harris, in Weiner’s world of flawed human beings.
“It’s Matt’s show, it’s his vision and that’s something that has worked incredibly well so why question it now that it’s become inconvenient [for me],” says Harris.
“You had a pretty strong sense of a moral code about Lane and he seems to have broken it. That goes back to last season and the night on the town with Don and the way Matt talked to me about that was [Lane] was being corrupted by Don. Once you’ve been corrupted there’s no way of going back.”
Harris, whose David Robert Jones character also died on FOX’s “Fringe” this season, says he found out about Lane’s suicide after a table reading for episode 510.
“After the read throughs [Matt Weiner] asked everyone to hang around and I could see he was leaving me for the last person and then he said let’s go up to my office and offered me incredibly expensive brandy and I knew something was up,” he says.”
Still, since the entire season was wrapped before the premiere episode aired, it was a tough secret to keep.
“I couldn’t tell my agent, I couldn’t tell my manager,” says Harris. “I didn’t take part in pilot season this year because I knew that if I’d signed on to a show people would know something was happening.”
So just how grisly was it filming the suicide reveal where Harris was suspended from the ceiling in full “I’ve just hanged myself” makeup?
“I just kept wanting to break into that Monty Python song ‘Look on the Bright Side of Life’ and start dancing,” he says. “But that wouldn’t have been fair to the other actors … I just had to hang from the door and stick my tongue out. The other actors had to react.”
Look for Harris next in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” — due in theaters in December. He plays General Ulysses S. Grant to Daniel Day Lewis’ Abraham Lincoln.