On Sunday’s Mad Men, beloved Sterling Cooper art director Salvatore Romano was cruelly relieved of his position after refusing to service an inebriated Texan. But on Tuesday night, even-more-beloved Sal-portraying actor Bryan Batt was with co-star Vincent Kartheiser at the Brooks Brothers store in Manhattan, happily celebrating the launch of the new limited-edition Mad Men suit. Vulture spoke with him about Sal’s dismissal and his future on the show.
This was a big week for Sal. What was your reaction when you read the script for the first time?
I was in shock. I really was in shock, but very quickly, Matt Weiner said to me, “This isn’t The Sopranos. You are not whacked in the trunk of a car.” I’m not dead, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Is he coming back to Sterling Cooper?
We have no idea. I know, isn’t it scary? He could. There’s a multitude of ways he could. And given Matt’s brilliant mind, I mean, come on. I’m just wishing and hoping. But I love that episode. That was a great episode to be in. That script was genius. People ask me if Sal is coming back, and I honestly don’t know.
A lot of people want Sal back.
Keep those cards and letters coming. Start that Facebook group! There’s a million ways that he can come back, especially if time passes. Don does respect his talent. He is innocent. He did nothing wrong. Of course I would love to come back. It’s a heavenly place to work.
That last scene between Don and Sal was so telling.
Heartbreaking. Look what it said about Don. A lot of people were like, “Oh my God, Don.” Even through his philandering and everything, they want to love Don. It was like a sucker punch.
I think everyone was under the impression that he understood what Sal was going through.
Guess what? He doesn’t. That whole episode was about impulse. I want what I want when I want it. And if you live your life like that, you’re living dangerously. Because the repercussions of that can be devastating.
Did you see January Jones on the cover of GQ?
Not yet! No! I’m dying. She told me it was coming out. Is she naked?
She’s in lingerie.
I’m in House Beautiful, thank you very much. In my bed, fully clothed. Please, people want to see January in her underwear. They don’t want to see me in lingerie. Come on, who’s not dying to see that? All the ladies on our show are uniquely beautiful in their own way.
What January says in the article is that her ex-boyfriend, Ashton Kutcher, told her she should give up acting. Has that happened to you?
You know, no. And as you go through your career, I’ve done theater for years and years and I had a lot of disappointments, so I opened up my store in New Orleans. And the minute I did, all these opportunities opened up. I really believe, [you shouldn’t] let anyone else tell you how to live your life. You have to do what you feel is right in your heart.
So not one person told you to give up?
No one did. But if they did, I’m sure they’re not working now.
We’re at Brooks Brothers. Who’s the better dresser, you or Sal?
Oh, Sal. Sal has Janie Bryant who invented the Sal separates. You’ll notice that rarely does Sal wear a suit, a Mad Men suit. He wears blazers and vests and pants. Slacks and funny ties and great cuff links. My favorite thing is going into the trailer, it’s great, the anticipation. What has Janie picked out this time?
What year would you want Mad Men to jump to next season, in terms of fashion?
I would love to go really into the sixties. We’re in ‘63, and after the British Invasion, everything went haywire. It’s the protests, counterculture — it became what we iconically knew as the sixties. I think that would be thrilling. I want to see Sal in big bell bottoms and a Sonny Bono vest. Mutton chops and a bob.
Were you surprised to hear that Kater Gordon isn’t coming back next season?
It was a surprise. I had no idea. You know, that’s part of the show that I have nothing to do with. The writers, they go into that room and they create. I don’t know the dynamic. I love her and I think she’s a brilliant and talented young lady. And she just won the Emmy. So. But I adore her and I loved her dress at the Emmys — did you see it? I thought it was Oscar, but it was vintage.
Have you talked to her since it happened?
No. I just found out yesterday. It’s been a crazy day, but I will give her a call.