Kevin Rahm, Mad Men

Mad Men’s Kevin Rahm discusses his character Ted Chaough, conspiracy theories and Sacramento manners.

When Kevin Rahm auditioned for the role of Mad Men’s Ted Chaough, the part was only supposed to last three episodes. As it turns out, Rahm’s compellingly ballsy take on Don Draper’s advertising rival has now spanned several seasons and chronicled a heartbreaking affair with Peggy Olson. In 2014, Rahm, who also currently appears in Bates Motel and Madam Secretary, moved to Sacramento to be with his infant daughter and wife—the latter a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at the UC Davis Medical Center. Mad Men’s final season premieres at 10 p.m., Sunday, April 5, and Rahm took a few minutes to chat with SN&R about Sharon Tate’s T-shirt and Sacramento’s manners.

Mad Men finished shooting last year—have you had time to heal emotionally?

It was really weird to stop filming, to not see everyone all the time. We hung out the Emmys and I’m looking forward to this last week of press … and the big, final blowout party.

It’s kind of been like senior year for you.

It really was like senior year, that last month, that last couple of weeks we were shooting. It was always someone's last day on the set; everyone would come in and be there for the last scene and [Mad Men creator] Matt [Weiner] would give a speech and everyone would clap. For four seasons it was a very much like being in one group in high school.

Only better …

Only with a smaller group of just your good friends and a lot less drama.

Does it drive you crazy to hear all the theories about how the show will end and not be able to weigh in?

It was harder before when we would finish shooting closer to the time it would air; it was fresh in my memory, and I would immediately think of the correct answer. It’s been easier this time since it’s been so long since we shot it. I honestly don’t remember what happened and I’m excited to watch it as a fan. I enjoyed the crazy theories—the whole “Don Draper is an alien” thing or the Sharon Tate T-shirt conspiracy, I loved that the fans were that engaged and spent the time.

Matthew Weiner is notoriously strict about what cast members can share …

I have a lot of photos that I’ve taken on set that I can’t wait to share. I’m doing the show Bates Motel and we're tweeting from the set and taking photos all the time but [on Mad Men] we weren't allowed to say who we were working with in a scene or what year it was much less tweet or take a photo. Not that we necessarily wanted to; we didn't want to break the illusion. No one wanted to see a picture of me and Jay [Ferguson, who plays Stan Rizzo] hanging out, half-dressed in costume, eating lunch and talking on our cellphones.

What drew you to Ted?

That he was really the first character to stand up to Don and challenge him in a way that no one ever had before. I’ve loved watching all the characters develop … I love that [the writers] would leave things open. Ted goes to California and you don’t see him for a while and then you find out how unhappy he is, but you’re not back in the house, watching him argue [with his wife].

Your character is involved with Peggy Olson. Thoughts on what Mad Men has to say about women from that era?

Peggy Olson—I have to say I think she is the show’s secret weapon; Elisabeth [Moss] as the actress and Peggy as the character. What we learn from watching her … and watching Christina [Hendricks] as Joan is that women were always strong and powerful—they just didn’t have the say. I love watching Peggy fight for what she deserves and needs, and watching Joan do the things she has to do to get any sort of status and the cost of that. When Joan sleeps with that guy to get that account—not too long before that you have Roger and Don and Pete going to a brothel. They slap each other on the back and it’s accepted.

Favorite Ted moment?

I loved the scene when I meet Don in the bar and we decide to do [the] Chevy [campaign] together. It’s such a rare thing to have that much time and that big of a scene, and to do it with Jon [Hamm] was amazing. I also love the scene when he goes to Peggy and says, “You’re going to be grateful I did that, you’re going to thank me.” I loved what Lizzy did in that scene. It was probably one of the hardest scenes to shoot, even off-camera, it broke my heart.

You moved to Sacramento—has it been a culture shock?

It’s kind of funny, people keep asking me, “How do you like it?” and I have to say I don’t know yet. Before I’d just come up for the long weekend; I haven’t had a chance to take advantage of what’s around here. I do like the whole farm-to-fork thing; I think the restaurants are great. We live in a small neighborhood and I really enjoy it. We had a new baby in September—she’ll be 6 months old so I just haven’t had a chance to do much. I know the Save Mart on Folsom [Boulevard] very well.

You’re originally from Louisiana. What would you like to import here from there?

I would bring manners.

Wow, OK. Really?

It’s not just Sacramento! I’m not harshing on Sacramento! I get in trouble for saying “yes ma’am” to women, but if I didn’t say that my mom would smack me on the back of my head. I’d also bring more Cajun food here.