“Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner is among the most spoiler-averse producers working in television. When critics receive a copy of a season’s premiere, it comes with a list of things they’re not supposed to write about, from big plot developments to seemingly small things like the year the story takes place.
For the series finale, Weiner even extended the secrecy to the show’s cast and crew. As John Slattery (Roger Sterling) tells GQ, he got to the end of the finale script and was underwhelmed: “I thought, ‘Wait, what?’ It wasn’t as … eventful as you would expect.”
That’s because it wasn’t really the end. The series finale finished filming on July 3, 2014, 10-plus months before it would air on AMC. And since it was the last episode, more people than usual attended the table read of the final script. To keep the possibility of leaks down, Weiner called the core cast into his office after the last table read and laid out the actual ending.
“It was emotional. I understood why it was done, obviously … but it was super-emotional,” January Jones (Betty Draper Francis) tells Zap2it at “Mad Men’s” final press junket in late March. “It was just like six or seven of us, and he just read it for us and showed us something. Then we all cried and went back to work.”
Jay R. Ferguson (Stan Rizzo) says he was the only person who hadn’t been there from episode 1 to hear the ending. “I think it might have been a slight accident,” he says with a laugh, but he’s glad it happened.
“I just felt so blessed, man, to just think about how it all began for me on the show. To end up in that room, it was a really special gift,” Ferguson says.
Kevin Rahm (Ted Chaough) remembers thinking that with all the extra people at the table read, “this is a lot of people to have that much information for that much time.” But he left that day thinking he had read the final scene of the series — until he ran into co-star Elisabeth Moss at an Emmy party two months later.
“I went to her and I was like, that’s a lot of people to know how it ends. She says, ‘Oh, that’s not how it ends.’ I went, What?!” Rahm says. “That’s how I found out about the secret meeting Jay snuck into. [Moss] goes, ‘Oh no. Matt called some of up and told us what really happens. That makes so much more sense.”
“To be honest,” Ferguson adds, “I didn’t mind the false ending. I thought it was kind of great.”
“Mad Men’s” final episodes begin airing at 10 p.m. ET/PT Sunday (April 5) on AMC. The series finale will air in May.