Last night, Rich Sommer (a.k.a. Mad Men’s Harry Crane) made his Broadway debut in Harvey, a comedy about a man (Jim Parsons) whose BFF is an imaginary six-foot-tall rabbit. (Sommer plays a sanitarium orderly.) We caught up with the actor at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54 and talked invisible friends, Lane’s suicide, and why we probably won’t see Harry’s ass any time soon.
Did you have any imaginary friends growing up?
I’m almost ashamed to say I didn’t. I think I was too boring! Let me go back to my childhood now and get one. My daughter has lots of imaginary friends, so I like to foster those. She has a doll Becca, whose birthday is almost every day, and while she is a technically a physical object, she has personified her to a degree that I would classify her as an imaginary friend. She gets very frustrated with me when I don’t take Becca seriously.
You would probably be one of the few people in the cast who can see the connection between the play Harvey and Donnie Darko.
Sure. Sure. There is a bunny in both, certainly. Although the bunny in Donnie Darko is a little more terrifying. I don’t know if anyone could argue that Donnie Darko doesn’t have at least some tertiary relationship with Harvey. But even though I had seen Harvey a number of times before I had seen Donnie Darko, I hadn’t fully made the connection between the imaginary bunnies when I had seen Donnie Darko for the first time. I probably should have. Maybe I should go watch Donnie Darko tonight! [Laughs.]
Did you see the death coming on Mad Men?
No. The premonition about someone dying seemed to come after the show had premiered, and we were done shooting then. So, for me, I may be a dummy, but I didn’t see any of it coming. They do plant clues, and hindsight is really twenty-twenty on that show. It’s really fascinating for me to go back and see Oh! Don’s sketching a noose! All of these things that were clearly pointing towards this moment, I don’t catch on as quickly.
So you were never in fear it might be you?
Oh, I’m always in fear it might be me! [Laughs.] That has nothing to do with foreshadowing, but I know I’ve pissed off my boss more than once.
I don’t want to remind him of anything that’s happened, because then he might actually kill Harry! No, I live in constant fear that I will be written off that show, but you do what you can do.
But Harry isn’t a character that you’d want to see that happen to — he’s not someone you want to punch, like Pete …
Everyone wants to punch Pete in that last episode! And I hope he doesn’t die. I like working with Vincent.
But neither is Harry so nice that everyone would grieve to the extent they do for Lane … so it’s a smart strategy, being somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.
[Laughs.] Sure. It’s not my strategy. I just say what they write for me. So where does Harry rate on this spectrum?
Just under Pete.
Just under Pete? Oh my God! That’s trouble. If I’m just under Pete, and I know how people feel about Pete, then I’m in trouble. [Laughs.] People want to punch Pete. At least Harry is someone who would learn from a punch. Harry would learn. I don’t think it’s about smarts — I think it’s about self-defense. He wouldn’t want his precious visage shattered by a punch.
What would you like to see happen for Harry in the next season?
What I would like to see? I’d like to see the second floor. I would like Harry to continue to rise at the agency. But everything I can say would pale with what they come up with.
There’s a really great butt shot at the end of the episode …
A butt shot with me would not be as great as a butt shot with John [Slattery]. I think you lucked out on that one. I think you’ve already seen me in my underwear — isn’t that enough? [Laughs.]