’Mad Men’ actor bites off bigger role in season 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — No one is more surprised than Kevin Rahm that his “Mad Men” character Ted Chaough has become a major player in the AMC drama’s sixth season.

“I’m always surprised,” Rahm said of the series’ many twists and turns. “It wasn’t until Don said, ‘Do you want to get in some trouble?’ that I was like ‘Oh, oh!’ The first time I read (the script) I was like ‘Oh, yes! Yes, we should merge!’ And you know Matt (Weiner) had told me that there were big things coming for the character, but I didn’t see it.”

Rahm’s character appeared in a handful episodes in past seasons as the boss of a competing advertising firm. But the recent merger of his and Don Draper’s companies — along with a shocking kiss with Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) — has thrust Ted to the forefront of the 1960s ad world drama.

In a recent interview, the one-time “Desperate Housewives” actor compared leading man Jon Hamm to Hollywood megastar George Clooney and discussed why he’s staying tight-lipped about that Ted/Peggy lip lock.

AP: Initially you wanted to be a lawyer?

Kevin Rahm: My intent was to go to law school. ... And then what I realized quickly is what I wanted was to be on ‘L.A. Law.’ And ironically now I get to work with Mr. (Harry) Hamlin.

AP: You also share the screen with Jon Hamm. What’s that like?

Rahm: The first scene two years ago when we met in the Benihana on the Honda episode — it was daunting. I mean Jon’s the nicest guy, a genuinely good guy and so he makes it easier. ... He’s just a good guy. I call it the ‘Clooney effect,’ when you don’t get famous till you’re 30 or in your mid-30s. Adam Carolla said in his podcast last week that he thinks of us (men) like cement and if it’s still wet you can write into it, but once it hardens you’re going to be the guy you are.

AP: What do fans usually want to talk about?

Rahm: It’s weird. I had someone yesterday stop me from (my role on) ‘Friends.’ So I think it depends on whatever their milieu is, but more and more ‘Mad Men.’ ... They all want to know what is going to happen (with Peggy and Ted), if something is going to happen and if it does — when. I got to meet a lot of the ‘Downton Abbey’ cast last night and I’m a huge fan of ‘Downton.’ So I’m like ‘Oh my god! I love your show!’ And they in turn (ask about ‘Mad Men’) and I’m like ‘Oh my god that’s right. I’m on a show, too!’

AP: So you have fan moments too?

Rahm: Oh absolutely. I’m a fan first and foremost. I watch way too much television and like a lot of shows so I’m always excited to meet those people and hope they’re not douchey.

AP: So what exactly was the deal with the Ted-Peggy kiss?

Rahm: You can argue that it’s out of gratitude. You could argue that he’s completely in love with her and he’s fighting it. That’s the other thing that is exciting about the show is that we don’t know. It’s not handed to you — or us — on a silver platter.

AP: It is impossible to get spoilers from ‘Mad Men’ actors. Why is that?

Rahm: For threat of life and limb! It’s been pounded into us. Matt (Weiner) gives a speech before every table read and he says ‘Welcome. We’re really happy to have you here. You’re part of the family now and if you say anything we will destroy you.’ So yeah, he explains the commercial viability of the show is that no one knows. And that’s rare these days. ... That’s what creates the buzz about Bob Benson and Ted and Peggy and Don. What’s going to happen to Don? Megan wears a shirt with a star and everyone all of a sudden goes to the (Sharon) Tate killings. But that’s what can happen because of the secrecy.

AP: I understand you recently celebrated your one year anniversary with your wife Amy Lonkar, a cardiothoracic surgeon. How has married life been?

Rahm: It’s the best decision I ever made. She grounds me in a great way. ... She puts my job in perspective real quick. You know any time people are talking about Emmys or something like that and you start to think ‘Oh, I’m pretty cool’ and then I talk to her about her day and I go ‘Yeah, we (actors) play. We play.’

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