Spoilers for Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men ahead.
In a sense, Mad Men will conclude just as it begins for Pete and Trudy Campbell. With a single episode remaining, the upper-crust exes are once again betrothed, and while the reunion divided series fans, actress Alison Brie is very pleased with the outcome. Brie called Vulture on Monday to endorse the match, break down Community’s newfound edge, and tease Sleeping With Other People.
How did you react when you found out about Pete and Trudy’s reunion?
I loved it! Are you kidding? I was very excited. I feel like there’ve been some mixed reactions. Some people are like, “Yay, I’m so glad for Pete and Trudy!” and other people are like, “Noooo, Trudy, don’t do it!” But I’m happy to see them together. At the end of the day, Trudy has always loved Pete. That’s kind of been the through line for her character. Trudy’s goals were always to have an amazing family and to be a wife and to have a successful husband. I think she considered herself successful through his successes and liked being a part of those.
She barely got any family time because she and Pete broke up very soon after Tammy was born.
She says in this episode that she never stopped loving Pete, but she’s not one to be made a fool of, and she’s very smart and draws a line somewhere and is a strong woman. I really loved it. And more than anything, also, I think that I was just honored to be back again and part of the final episodes.
We’re talking to you because we want to talk about Trudy and Pete. But real quick, what did you think about Betty’s diagnosis?
It was very heartbreaking. I found it very heartbreaking watching the way that all unfolded with Sally in particular. It was heartbreaking even at the table read. And all the episodes seemed extra-emotional towards the end of filming, ’cause everyone’s like, “It’s coming to an end!” But I mean, because [Betty]’s such a cold character [laughs], it’s so interesting to have something like that happen to her, and still you feel for everyone involved, and you see her quiet strength in the way that she is choosing to handle it.
When the series began, Pete and Trudy were already engaged. Did you, Vincent [Kartheiser], and Matt Weiner come up with a backstory of how they got together?
Nope, not at all. [Laughs.] We didn’t talk at all about their first proposal when we were shooting last night’s episode. The first season of the show, Vincent and I would do extensive rehearsals together. We would rehearse at his house between table reads and shooting the episodes. So I feel like we must have talked a lot about how they met. I think it was more just assumed that it was like, I don’t know, in college, or kind of right after.
My thought was that her parents somehow intervened.
Totally. I think that Trudy probably picked Pete and was like, That’s who I want. He’s successful, and here’s what our life is going to be. When we first met her in season one, she was always controlling things behind the scenes and really trying to keep Pete on track in his career, and also choosing how they spent their money and what apartment they lived in and things like that. And then we’ve seen her really relax into herself over the years.
A few episodes ago, when now-divorced Pete and Trudy confronted the school principal, they were such a united front. What do you remember from filming that scene?
I love twists like that on the show, where you learn so much about these characters so quickly. We haven’t seen Trudy in a little while, and it’s the second half of the last season. Pete’s been in California and then broke up with his girlfriend and [is] coming from a weird place. And then you kind of learn that Trudy was keeping some stuff from Pete about her reasons why they have to have this meeting. One of my favorite moments in that scene is when [laughs] he [learns that Tammy] drew a face with a mustache, and Pete’s like, “Mustache?” It’s such a quick moment, but just Pete clocking like, Have other men been around my daughter? But then the fact that it comes down to like [laughs] an old score.
Did you have any idea about what the score was?
It was like a Medieval something about Pete’s clansmen murdering the other guy’s family [laughs] while they were sleeping. But I loved also Pete’s line, “The king ordered it,” like, “It wasn’t our fault.” And also, so interesting that both of those guys knew in such detail this story about their families. The fact that the guy says it and Pete immediately knows what he’s talking about and has a really defensive answer is so Pete.
You said that Trudy probably chose Pete. At the start of the series, Pete was slippery and kind of lecherous. She seems like she could have had anyone. Why Pete?
People love to hate Pete, which I think is a testament to Vincent Kartheiser’s amazing acting and the way he created his character. But the only way I have been able to explain it to myself all this time is just that Trudy sees a different Pete than everybody else sees. There’s always been such a separation between these men’s lives at home and their lives in the office. And I’m sure Trudy saw his ambition and was very attracted to that. She’s very ambitious; she comes from new money and is excited to kind of keep that going. Also, at first he was loving towards her and was giving her everything she wanted. And I feel Trudy has always been pretty spoiled by her family and was prepared to be spoiled by her husband. He came from money, older money, and that I think would have been attractive to her. But — and this is why I loved that final scene with the two of them — I think that there is romance in their relationship. From my very first episode, the note that Matt Weiner would come give me would just be like, “You know, she just loves Pete. He’s her husband, and she loves him.” And you don’t choose who you love. She’s actually a very loyal person.
But I know that you, Alison, are so smart, and you’ve seen him with the German nanny and all the rest.
But see, Trudy is smart, too. If you go back to that episode, Trudy knew then about the German nanny, and he’s sort of like, “I don’t want you to go out of town without me,” and she’s like, “Okay. Then that’s the plan.” I think if you look at the reason why they finally split up, it wasn’t because he cheated. It was because he cheated with a girl who lives on their block. It’s because Trudy felt truly humiliated and would not stand for that. Prior to that, she loves her husband, she wants to have a successful marriage and was willing to turn a blind eye to a certain extent. In that episode, she’s very emotionally affected but still kind of like, Okay. He’s maybe learned his lesson, or at least we don’t have to talk about this ever again. I don’t think she knew to the extent that it was happening, but I think she knew then, and she must have had a sense other times. I mean, the way that she served it up to Pete last season when she kicked him out was an acknowledgment, like, I’ve known things for a long time. I cannot do this anymore.
Do you think they’re now back together and going to get remarried?
Yes. [Laughs.] But I’m a hopeless romantic myself, so [laughs] I would like to think that.
And they moved to Wichita?
And they go to Wichita and Pete will probably still cheat, but I would like to think that they have an amazing fresh start ahead of them, and they can enjoy a renaissance in their relationship where they’re flying on private jets and he’s kind of spoiling Trudy again.
At times, Pete’s whipped. Trudy definitely can get what she wants out of him.
That’s what I like to think. I like to think that Trudy always gets what she wants, and when she wanted Pete out of the house, she got it. But ultimately she wants a happy ending, and she got it. But I see the whole show through the eyes of Trudy. [Laughs.]
Happy so long as she refrains from heart-to-hearts with Peggy. Do you think Trudy and Pete are going to have any more children?
I doubt it. She had a lot of trouble conceiving. And now she’s even older, so I don’t think they would have more children.
Fans of the show are savoring any anecdotes or memories as the final episode approaches. Can you share a moment that’s stuck with you?
I feel sometimes because I would just pop in and out of there so quickly, that my mind is wiped clean of so much stuff that happened. I definitely remember just being in tears shooting that scene. I totally cried. I shared a nice moment with Matt where we just like, held each other and had tears in our eyes.
So the proposal scene was the last scene you shot?
Did you watch the episode with a group of people or by yourself?
I watched it by myself. [Laughs.]
I would have thrown myself a little shindig for Trudy’s sendoff.
Well, it was Mother’s Day so I was with my mom most of the day, and then when I got home, I was like, [gasps] “Oh my God!”
You didn’t watch it with your mom?
[Laughs.] No, ’cause I kind of forgot that it was on until I got home. [Laughs.] It’s mostly like I open up Twitter and then someone will be like, “Alison Brie’s back on Mad Men!” and I’ll be like [gasps] “Oh yeah!”
You’re still on Community, which made the transition from traditional television to Yahoo Screen. Did shooting the new episodes feel the same as the previous ones?
No, it felt a lot different. For one thing, we shot at a different studio. We shot our first five seasons at Paramount, and that really felt like our home. And we shot this final season at CBS Radford, and we were literally in a basement that used to be a parking garage a floor below where they shoot Parks and Rec. [Laughs.] We’re like, “Gosh, if we ever thought we were below Parks and Rec, now we really are.” The show is a bit weirder not being on NBC. The jokes have a little more room to breathe now. Not weirder in like a large, conceptual way that I think people were expecting, but weirder in like a small, very specific way, in terms of just jokes that last a little longer. Dan Harmon’s words are really coming out of the characters’ mouths, whereas before maybe they were getting censored a little bit.
In the course of being on Community and Mad Men, did you ever have to play Annie and Trudy in the same day?
A bunch of times. It was really fun. [Mad Men] was just like, “Um, we’re shooting this episode, and you have to come and shoot your scene on Tuesday,” and I’d be like, “Oh shit — Community, please let me go shoot my scene on Tuesday!” And they’d be like, “Okay. You can only go for four hours.”
At Sundance, I saw you in the movie Sleeping With Other People, and you have amazing chemistry with Jason Sudeikis.
Thank you so much. He’s awesome. He’s such a funny guy, so I feel like we just took our natural rapport and banter from life and then just applied it to these characters. Because they’re mostly friends hanging out.
This is your opportunity to get Mad Men fans to come see the film. Would you like to tell everyone what “the dirty DJ” is?
[Laughs.] Well I don’t think I’m the person to tell them. I think I would rather say they should definitely go see Sleeping With Other People on August 21. If they’re female, they will learn proper masturbation techniques. And if they’re male [laughs], they’ll learn how to pleasure girls the way they want to be pleasured … I personally learned a lot.