“I knew before Christmas about the merger, and we didn’t shoot it until January,” said Rahm, who plays Don Draper’s competitor-turned-colleague Ted Chaough, at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Performers Peer Group reception on Monday at the Sheraton Universal. “So I had about two or three weeks even before we shot it that I couldn’t tell anyone. I could tell my wife – my wife knew a lot of stuff, because I could trust her, but no one else. My managers didn’t know; my agents didn’t know. That was one of the hardest things to keep (secret) until it aired.
“I kept getting excited as episodes were coming, that I could actually talk about them. That one was really tough. The affair with Peggy – that was (also) tough to keep. Those were the big two.”
The twists and the intensity of his scenes (particularly with co-star Elisabeth Moss) were considerable, and played no small amount of mind games on Rahm.
“Every episode, it was up and down and up and down,” he said. “She had a lot more information than I did going into it. She knew there was going to be a merger. I think she knew that something was going to happen between us. You kind of got a sense of that, like I kind of felt like something’s going to happen.
“It was funny … the first episode of the season, I come in on New Year’s and we’re watching the (headphones) commercial. We kept shooting it, and the director kept saying, ‘Um, you know, just look at each other a little longer.’ We were both finally like, ‘What are you looking for? What are we missing?’ And then we both went, at the same time, ‘Oh, oh, okay.’ So from early on I had a sense that this is going somewhere. They kept encouraging that as we were playing scenes, but you didn’t know if it was a love thing or just a great deal of mutual respect. … Lizzie and I do have great chemistry, but there was an attention to detail paid to how moments played.”
Suspense over how their relationship would play out went down to the final episode for Chaough, and in turn Rahm.
“The last thing is me telling her, ‘You’re going to be happy you made this decision.’ And her response to that broke my heart. When we were shooting that, Matt Weiner was directing that episode, and he pulled me aside and said, ‘You have to be hard on her.’ And it was hard for me personally, because I love Lizzie so much, and she’s such a great scene partner and we’d gone through so much together this year, that I would literally break her heart in every take, and I didn’t want to do it.”
Rahm said he did go to Weiner and ask how the final scenes related to his status for next season, the final one for “Mad Men.”
“He said, ‘Oh, you’re fine,’ ” Rahm offered with some amount of relief. “The information we have is that Pete and Ted go to California. … When I read the script, (I saw) at least Pete’s there too.’ So they’re not shutting me off.’ “
While he waits for the new season to begin, Rahm hopes to catch up on some other Emmy-nominated drama.
“My wife just got a job in Sacramento,” he said. “We just got a house up there, so we’re behind on ‘Dexter’ and ‘Breaking Bad.’ And I’m going crazy. I can’t look at Twitter; I can’t go online – I’m dying to catch up on those. I was also a big fan of ‘House of Cards’ this year – I thought it was such a great show. I think the categories this year are well-stacked.”