"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner continuously brings on many changes to the hit AMC 1960s-themed series, but Sunday's episode include one of the biggest, if not the biggest shocker of season 5.
Warning: Spoiler alert!
Actor Jared Harris' character, Lane Pryce, the British partner of the ad firm that is the main setting of the show, was killed off. He had been embezzling money from the company and ordered to resign by Jon Hamm's character, partner Don Draper.
Pryce tried to gas himself in a Jaguar his wife had purchased for him - a gift deemed ironic, as the firm had recently secured a deal to handle the car company's advertising - but the vehicle would not start. He then hanged himself in his office. At Draper's insistence, the other partners cut him down and laid him on a couch as they waited for coroner officials to arrive.
Harris, a 50-year-old British actor and son of late Irish star Richard Harris, has starred on the series since the season 3 premiere in 2009. He told The Hollywood Reporter that Weiner told him he would be killed off after a read-through of a script for the 10th episode of the current fifth season, which aired two weeks before Sunday's.
"He said, 'Hang on, I wanted to speak you,'" Harris said. "He talked to everyone else, and then got to me and said, 'Come on up to my office.' Now, that's a bad time when someone says, 'Come on up to my office.' There was some inane chit and chat on the way up the lift, but as we got to the door, he said, 'So, I've got something I want to tell you.' I went, 'Uh-oh.' He said, 'Yeah, I'm sorry.' And then he offered me some very good brandy."
"I wasn't totally surprised," he added. "I had gotten an e-mail beforehand that [asked about] my handwriting "because we see Lane forging a signature on a check." I knew that could only spell trouble for Lane. The only reason why you'd start a ticking bomb like that is to have it go off. I didn't know if it would go off this season or next season, but I knew at that point the countdown had started."
In 2011, Weiner struck a deal with AMC and studio Lionsgate in which "Mad Men" was renewed through at least season 6, with an option to produce a seventh.
Harris told The Hollywood Reporter that after his conversation with the show creator, he "shed a little tear" in a car on the way home. He also said he "laughed for about five minutes" when Weiner told him about his character's first failed attempt at suicide in the Jaguar.
"Nothing goes right for this guy," Harris added.
The actor is also known for his recurring role as David Robert Jones on the FOX series "Fringe," which is set to end in 2013 after five seasons. Harris has appeared in films such as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Natural Born Killers," "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."
Harris can be seen in the Steven Spielberg's new film "Lincoln." The movie is set to be released later this year and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Harris as Ulysses S. Grant, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and James Spader as WN Bilbo.