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Mad Men’s Marten Weiner on Glen’s Evolution and Hanging With January Jones

You know who we don't ever hear from? Mad Men's Marten Weiner, the actor who plays onetime Betty sympathizer and Hockrosscer champ Glen Bishop. Weiner is the son of series boss Matthew Weiner and was cast as the Drapers' precocious neighbor when he was just 9. (A few weeks ago, he was touring potential college campuses. Feel old yet?) He's appeared in ten episodes over the course of the show, camping out in Betty's backyard, offering Sally the occasional cigarette, and getting poor Carla fired. Most recently, last season he was seen bemoaning a crappy end to his sorta-date with Sally, a day improved in the end by Don letting him drive his car back to boarding school. Even though we haven't seen him yet this season, our spiking fever over all things Mad Men moved us to check in. Weiner, who is now 16, took a break from school to get on the phone with Vulture, and yes, of course he remembers having to walk in on January Jones in the bathroom. He thought it was kinda creepy, too.

I heard you just did a college tour, which is nuts because Glen’s not old enough for college.
[Laughs.] I know. I started on Mad Men when I was 9. It was a while ago.

What do you want to major in?
I don’t know. I really like writing and humanities. History, philosophy, poetry … stuff like that. I also love art and music. Acting, obviously.

What about filmmaking? I noticed you have some very short, possibly very old videos on YouTube of you and your friends.
Yeah, a little bit. That was a while ago. [Laughs.] I was like 12 or 13 in those. I loved doing those.

Some of them are pretty fancy. My friends and I used VHS camcorders back in the day.
Oh my God, yeah, iMovie really changed that. You can edit things very easily. I mean, I do some movies with my friends still, but they’re not online. I’m doing one now actually.

What is it about?
Me and my friend play these two really bad comedians and we perform at birthday parties and stuff. It’s all really bad puns. My friends wrote and directed it. I’m just acting in it.

Do you remember being asked if you wanted to be on Mad Men?
Yeah. My dad had already written the character and he was going to start doing auditions and he was like, “Marten, you wanna try doing it?” and I said, “Sure, that sounds like fun.” I learned my lines, auditioned, and then I got the part.

You auditioned?
Yeah, my dad had said, “If there’s a kid that’s better, I’m gonna choose him. I hope that’s fine.” And I said it was fine, of course. It wasn’t that harsh. That’s what my dad was afraid of, that people would think that he hired me just because I’m his kid.

One of the first things we see Glen do is walk in on Betty while she’s using the bathroom.
Oh, yeah! I was a little bit freaked out, definitely. I mean, he’s a creepy character, but I understood that I was playing a character and that it wasn’t me. It was fun ... That scene was creepy though. [Laughs]. And I was 9 so it made me uncomfortable, yeah.

Glen always broke my heart a little, which probably says something about me since you just called him creepy. But when he asked Betty for some hair —
It’s totally upsetting! It’s sad. She’s so unhappy, you know?

Right. And then Betty really breaks down when she sees him in the car.
It was some serious acting. I remember we shot that in Pasadena in the summer and it was 90-plus degrees, which is why my face looks so red. I was in that VW with no air conditioning and it was so hot. We had fake snow and everything. It worked, though, because when you’re cold your face still looks red.

Creepy Glen was a meme for a while. Do you still think he is creepy?
I mean, he wasn’t that creepy. He was misunderstood and kind of naïve, too, I think. Glen has gotten much more mature — and more normal, I guess. More of a delinquent, too, breaking in the house. [Laughs.]

What do you think about his relationship with Sally?
They’re friends. He’s an older kid who understands his situation now and can help her out. That’s kind of been their relationship for the last couple of seasons. He’s someone who is a friend, someone who can be like an older brother.

Do you think Sally and Glen should be together at the end?
I don’t know. They might work? Obviously with the difference in their ages right now, it would be a little strange. Also, they’ve known each other for so long, she was so little when they met, it would probably be … it would be weird.

Who do you hang out with on set during down time?
Sometimes just people I know through my dad, people who work on the show. I hang out with Kiernan Skipka and some of the other actors. Sometimes I just sit in my trailer and do homework, take a break and watch some TV.

What do you watch in there?
All the Judge Judy stuff. It’s hilarious! It’s like the only channel they have. [Laughs.] I never watched those shows before, but they’re hilarious.

Any of the other actors you like spending time with?
I really like Rich Sommer. Sometimes at parties I’ll talk to him, or I’ll hang out with January Jones. They’re all super nice and fun.

Who is your favorite character on the show?
That’s hard. I don’t want to be lame and pick the main character, but Don Draper’s just amazing. He’s so cool and mysterious.  

At what point were you allowed to watch the show? Or even interested in watching it?
Probably a couple years ago. I’d seen the scenes I was in, but it was too adult for me. I didn’t understand it very much. I’ve seen it since. I haven’t watched the whole show, but I’ve started watching from the beginning.

Do your friends ever ask you for spoilers?
Sometimes, yeah, but I usually don’t answer. [Laughs.] Some of my friends watch and it’s cool but kind of weird, too. Weird, because they’re my friends and I’m on the show, and that … gets mentioned every once in a while. It’s a little strange.

How do you prep when you have scenes?
Usually, I’ll just run lines with my mom and dad, just to see how he envisioned them being said and then we’ll talk about it.

He gives you some direction?
Not necessarily direction, but he does help me if I don’t understand quite what the character means. I like acting, but I don’t know if I want to do it professionally, like as an adult, but it’s something I enjoy.

Have you been auditioning for other projects?
Well, I like to paint and draw so I’m not in the drama class at school, which means I can only audition for musicals. I don’t like musicals very much. This year I’m going to take drama, though, so I can do some plays.

What have been the biggest surprises for you in terms of things Glen has done on the show?
I don’t find Glen that shocking. I can see how his character is developing and — what has been most shocking for you?

All of his encounters with Betty. Also, his mustache last season!
[Laughs.] Oh, yeah! Like, severe eighth-grade bully mustache.

Photo: AMC