Devon Gummersall on Being Brian Krakow in a Mad Men World

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Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images

That familiar face you might've recognized on Mad Men last night? It belongs to Devon Gummersall a.k.a. My So-Called Life's forever-endearing Brian Krakow. Grown-up now, and with a slew of shows under his belt, Gummersall is still remembered as Krakow, because who didn't relate to the hopeless romantic? Time will tell whether his Mad Men character, Stevie, is the man for Peggy, but Gummersall talked with us about getting to work on Mad Men and growing up before our very eyes on MSCL.

 

Did you have to keep it a secret that you were going to be on Mad Men?
Yes, and it was tough, because it was so long ago. It was quite a long time to keep that secret.

Have you been a fan up to this point?
Oh, for sure. It’s such a unique show and everything about it is so amazing. In our culture everything is so fast — just recently I watched one of my favorite movies of the '90s, You Can Count on Me, and I have to admit, while I was watching it, I was like, wow, this is really slow. It’s a reflection on our culture: Everything is fast-paced and what I love about Mad Men is that in this age of super-quick cuts and short running times, it has this amazingly languid and beautiful pace. You get to observe these characters and feel so immersed in the world in a way that very few modern shows do.

Who’s your favorite?
I mean, I’ve always really loved Pete — he’s had such an interesting arc — but definitely Peggy. Just the interaction between her and Don is an amazing thing to watch. I also found Betty Draper to be such an interesting character – there’s just this sort of innate sadness to the way January Jones played her.

We actually interviewed Elisabeth Moss before the premiere, and said she loved My So-Called Life and that she never wanted to be with Jordan. She always wanted Brian Krakow.
That’s so sweet.

Looking back, a lot of people seem to think that, too.
That’s the thing, though, when you’re the nerd in high school nothing really goes your way, and in hindsight everyone is like, “Oh, he was the best,” but [you have] no chance at the actual time. Brian Krakow represents something a lot of people can relate to – that version of the nerd. We’ve all been that guy, and I happened to portray that guy, but there’s a long legacy of that guy.

I remember you on Felicity! You were not a good guy.
I know, I know, which is funny, that really upset people, understandably, but it’s like what is Brian Krakow doing?

You had to do it. You had to play the other guy.
I had to try to go the other direction a little bit! But it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a show that I’m proud of, and there just are not that many times in your career as an actor when you get to be on a show where the writing is so excellent. I feel really lucky to have been on My So-Called Life. Now I can say I’ve been on two shows that are just extremely well-written.

You’ve been on a lot of significant teen shows.
I have definitely been out there doing lots of different stuff. When your adolescence is for public consumption. It takes a while for people to see you in a different way and for you to get roles that are different. It’s funny, I remember where I was at high-school age and saying I didn’t want to play high-school characters anymore, and it was just like, well, you’re eighteen, what are you supposed to do? I really can say that doing Mad Men has gotten me really excited about the acting side of things again.

That’s great. Well, you can expect so many wonderful blog posts that are like "Brian Krakow Is Hot Now!" Over and over again. The internet can be so disgusting, but this is the best response.
It is very sweet, it’s very very cool, and it’s like being on a show like My So-Called Life. But there’s also times where it can be frustrating, because there are times when you’re like, Listen, I’ve been doing other work for 20 years, come on! But I can honestly say that Mad Men really got me excited about the acting thing again. It was an honor to be part of it.