Matthew Weiner, creator of the Emmy Award-winning series Mad Men on AMC, was recently interviewed on the Nerdist Podcast, where he discussed writing for The Sopranos, creating and sustaining Mad Men and the release of his new film, Are You Here, starring Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler and Zack Galifianakis.
Matthew Weiner became a writer on the hit HBO series The Sopranos in 2004. He worked on the show – writing and co-writing over a dozen episodes – through 2007.
In 2007, AMC took a chance on a show Matthew Weiner had been working on since 2000. Mad Men told the story of an ad agency in Manhattan in the 1960’s. There was absolutely nothing familiar about it, and for a cable network that had never produced original programming before, it was more than a gamble.
“They [AMC] had for some business reason had maximized the growth of the company and they realized that original programming was a way to start attracting advertisers and get attention. They made one pilot. I don’t think they even knew what had happened. You know, HBO made eleven, twelve [pilots], networks made thirty, forty, sometimes, talking about hundreds of millions of dollars being put into this pilot process. They made one and they said, ‘We’ll see. We’ll try it.’ And all of a sudden we had an audience on the channel.”
Working through seven years of production on Mad Men, and working on the script for it seven years before that, Matthew Weiner talked about how the show had taken up more than a third of his life.
“Seven years between writing the pilot and it going on the air. And now I’ve been on the air for seven years. People are like, ‘Are you enjoying yourself?’ And you kind of feel guilty about how much work you’re doing and how much you’re complaining and how tired you are and how busy you are and how much stress you have, but you are – that’s the part that I process I will never get over, the change from being – even working on The Sopranos – from being a struggling writer.”
Host Chris Hardwick asked Matt Weiner about the similarities between the stars of the two biggest shows he’s worked on – Don Draper and Tony Soprano.
“I think it is embarrassing for someone to have a psychological problem. Tony has, like, panic attacks, and Don has had a couple panic attacks. I don’t know, I mean, any comparison between those two characters is like completely flattering to me. They were actually created around the same – well, not created – I had not seen The Sopranos when I started writing the [Mad Men] pilot, and then I saw it and was like, ‘Well, Don’s like Tony but he doesn’t kill people.'”
As Mad Men enters its final season, Weiner said that production was over and all that was left was a bit of editing. When asked about the final episode of Mad Men, Matthew said:
“I reached a point, I told you, I want the audience to love it, and no matter what, I did exactly what I wanted to do. So, we have no idea how that will be perceived, what it will mean to people, you know, I took it exactly where I wanted it to go.
According to IMDB, Matthew Weiner’s new film, Are You Here comes out on August 22nd.