Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Q&A with Mad Men's Christopher Stanley (Henry Francis)

Q: You've repeatedly played cops on TV. How different is playing a politician?

A: It's very different. A lot of [my previous roles] are these working class guys -- I like to call them "alpha males with issues." They were guys that were deeply flawed in one way or another, and it's fun to play that. The difference between that and playing Henry is that Henry is -- he's not a boy scout, he's certainly flawed. I'm not gonna paint him out to be a saint. But he's certainly a man who knows himself much more. He's been to the puppet show and seen the strings and knowing who he is and having a sense of himself lends itself to a certain kind of maturity and a peace of mind. I like that about him. He's not one of these guys that's gonna fly off the handle.

Q: When you landed the role of Henry, did you think he'd end up marrying Betty?

A: No, I had no idea. I've been [a recurring character] on other shows, and you just never know what's gonna happen. There's certainly nothing in those first two or three episodes that led me to believe that he was gonna marry her.

Q: You play a very calming role in Betty's life this season. Do people often look to you for assurance and advice?

A: I think that's one of the things I relate to with Henry, his capacity for empathy. I think that's a quality I've always had since I was a kid. I was kind of the kid in grade school who, if I saw a bully beating up on a kid, I would go after the bully and I wouldn't think twice about it. I'm certainly not a man with all the answers and people don't generally come to me with their problems, but I've certainly been a shoulder to cry on at different times for different people.

Q: How much did you know about Nelson Rockefeller before the show?

A: I knew a little bit about him, but I researched it more when I found out what Henry did. It was exciting to learn more about who Nelson Rockefeller was and what his politics were, that he was socially progressive. I think that that can inform a lot of people and give them a little insight into who Henry is.

Q: In an earlier episode, the neighbor Glen breaks into the Francis home and makes a mess. Have you ever been the victim of a prank or practical joke?

A: I remember when I was a kid, our house got broken into and they stole our stereo. It wasn't a practical joke -- it was kind of serious. I know what it's like to walk into a house and see your things tampered with and know that somebody else has been there. I think one time, as well, when I was a kid, as a practical joke a few buddies of mine broke into a house and we kind of destroyed it. It was someone that we knew and we thought it would be funny, and obviously we got into a lot of trouble.

Q: What has been the most challenging scene to film this season?

A: There were some scenes in [Episode 8,] "The Summer Man" that were pretty challenging. I think it was on the day that I started shooting that episode, my mom passed away. That made it -- especially for some of the argument scenes, the confrontational scenes that I had with Betty -- it made them a little bit more challenging. But also, things like that oftentimes have a way of putting you in the moment in a very real way.

source: amctv