Mad Men’s smoking as a sign of fashion

by Jenny Novac on January 2, 2013

Smoking is a sign of fashion, elan and being a man, Mad Men believe. It is just as their counterparts in real life who done jobs at Madison Avenue ad firms in the early 1960s did. Lucky Strike was Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s most appreciated client, in fact.

There is just one problem: Smoking is not cool in 2012.

Mad Men Smoking Scene

Smoking scene in Mad Men

In addition, California state law forbids smoking in indoor public places. That can be a difficulty for Mad Men as the Emmy Award-winning AMC drama is centered at L.A. Center Studios in downtown Los Angeles.

The Mad Men actors such as Jon Hamm, John Slattery, and actresses, are affordable to smoke only herbal cigarettes during filming the scenes. And while the herbal cigarettes may not include nicotine per se, they are still bad. In spite of their apparently harmless handle, “herbal” cigarettes as well produce tar, carbon monoxide and other dangerous substances.

Mad Men Christina Hendricks Smoking

Christina Hendricks smoking in Mad Men

“Somebody in fact viewed the pilot and totaled the quantity of cigarettes I smoked in the pilot,” Hamm remembered earlier in 2012 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. “I smoked about 70 cigarettes.

“The viewer must know that film in a scene is not filming one take of a scene. It’s 4 or 5 setups, and 3 or 4 takes on each setup. So each time the viewer see the actor smoking a cigarette, the actor does it five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 times.

Mad Men's Maggie Siff Smoking

Maggie Siff smoking a cigarette

“People did smoke cigarettes. My father was smoking in the car with the windows up, indoors. It was a lifestyle. And it makes a mood on the show.

Hamm is not one of those celebrities who shun the DVD, once it’s out. He watches himself on camera, for ideas on what he might do in a different way in future.

Jon Hamm Smoking

Jon Hamm lighting up a cigarette

“Being an actor is an amazing exercise in self-doubt, particularly when it is necessary to do things like smoking,” Hamm said.

“I am regularly kicking myself, thinking that I should have done something much better, that I could have done this or that a different way. Part of it is that we go at such an extremely fast pace when we make the show, and you lose sight of other things that are happening around you. I am no different than most actors.”

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