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Q&A – Ben Feldman (Michael Ginsberg)

In this interview, Ben Feldman, who plays Michael Ginsberg on AMC’s Mad Men, discusses his character’s mental breakdown and his prediction for the final scene of the series.

Q: Ginsberg seems like one of the only people happy to see Don back in the office… 

A: Yeah, 100%. I think the office was heading in a direction away from creativity and the world that Ginsberg excels in and the kind of world that he came into… It would have been an incredible relief for him to see a piece of that old world show up again. And then almost in the same episode to take that away with a giant scary robot has got to be a scary thing.

Q: The presence of the computer has a really negative effect on Ginsberg. Was that a common reaction in that era?

A: As far as responding to and going crazy because of the machine — there’s only so much research you can do to try to figure out Ginsberg and eventually you have to go, “This guy is not something I can research, he’s sort of his own thing.” … I used to get asked that a lot: “What about this? Was this common? Did you find this while looking at the ‘60s?” No, none of it. Ginsberg’s a lunatic.

Q: What piece of technology today has a comparable effect on people?

A: I don’t think we’re scared of technology anymore. The last people who are scared of technology I think you’re watching right now, on this show. It’s an older generation. I think lack of technology scares us almost more. I know the second I try to text someone and my phone dies or the screen freezes, I have a panic attack… I think we’re on our way to becoming fully robots and it’s just a matter of what percentage of us is robot already. [Laughs]

Q: Robots are definitely taking over.

A: Absolutely. And that’s what Mad Men’s about. [Laughs]

Q: Hmm, I wonder if that has anything to do with the final episode…

A: Yeah everyone’s always like, “What’s that last image that Matthew Weiner is always talking about?” And that’s what it is. It’s just robot-Don, sitting in his robot lair coming up with commercials for robot products.

Q: What did you think when you got the script with Ginsberg’s mental breakdown?

A: I knew going into the season that something would be going down. I sat down with Matthew Weiner before this episode started, and we talked all about it before I even read the script, and he told me everything that was gonna go on and how it fit into the larger story and all that kind of stuff. So I was prepared for it. What was weird was, nobody else was. So we sat down for the table read and everyone was looking at the script like, “What the hell? What is this?” And I was the only one who was calm and had already made peace with the fact that Ginsberg goes off the deep end.

Q: Part of what happens involves Peggy. What was it like working with Elisabeth Moss and what was her reaction?

A: What was cool about that was that I kind of came into this show via Lizzie, via Peggy. And throughout the show my biggest — like when I had my holocaust-alien-confessional to her in Season 5 — she was always the vehicle on which Ginsberg rode through this world. Strange sentence. [Laughs] It was a lot of fun to do all that with Lizzie. She makes other actors really great just by being adjacent to her.

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Q: Do you have a plan for where you’re going to watch the episode?

A: I actually texted Lizzie yesterday and she said, “Big week for you!” And I wrote back, “Yeah, I’m taking [my wife] to Hawaii. Is it f—-d up if I ask the restaurant to turn on AMC?” And she wrote, “I think it’s f—-d up you’re going to take your wife to a restaurant with television on her 30th birthday.” [Laughs]

Click here to read an interview with Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson on AMC’s Mad Men.

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