‘Mad Men’ Up Close: Photos From the Set of the Celebrated Show

Mad Men Matthew Weiner Christina Hendricks TV 2014 Advertising Alex Majoli (L-R) John Hamm as Don Draper, Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson and Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell behind the scenes on set of Mad Men’s seventh and final season.
Alex Majoli—Magnum for TIME
February 2014. From left: Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell, Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson and John Hamm as Don Draper behind the scenes on set of Mad Men’s seventh and final season, Los Angeles.

Photographer Alex Majoli has for years worked in some of the world’s most unsettled regions, crafting powerful portraits of the lives of men, women and children in places like war-torn Afghanistan, post-genocide Rwanda, and the poverty-ravaged favelas of Rio. But Majoli recently turned his lens on a world unlike any he’d chronicled before — namely, the tightly managed, downright secretive world behind the scenes of an acclaimed American TV show. The photographs seen here, made on the set of AMC’s Mad Men during filming of its final season, are the result of a full day spent with the show’s cast and crew. That Majoli was able to spend as much time as he did documenting what happens on a set as rigidly and famously controlled as Mad Men‘s — before and after the cameras roll — constitutes something of an entertainment coup.

“The whole shoot was fascinating,” Majoli told Lightbox. “[The show's creator] Matthew Weiner is so meticulous in his job that you want to be equally diligent. It’s all about trust — the more trust you receive, the more responsible you feel to give it your very best.

“It was a privilege to be there,” he continues, “but in a sense I only really realized that at the end of the day, driving back to my hotel. I had been concentrating so hard on not invading ‘the environment’ of the set, and was working so hard to make strong photos that would not reveal the storyline for the next season, that I was sort of oblivious to how fortunate I was to even be there.”

One seemingly small detail of the shoot, meanwhile — considered in retrospect — reveals just how open Weiner and the crew were to helping make Majoli’s assignment a success.

“I work with flashes, and some people were bothered by them. But right away Matthew Weiner announced to the whole crew that I — and my flashes, of course — had full access. From that moment, not only was it easy for me to move around, but cameramen and others were curious about what kind of images I was making. As for the actors, they come on set when everything is ready and then leave immediately after the scene is done, so I didn’t really interact with them very much at all.”

In the end, Majoli’s marvelous black and white portraits of Hamm, Moss, Hendricks, Slattery and the rest harken back to those long-ago years when photographers routinely chronicled the off-camera lives of the stars and, every once in a while, given enough time, came away with pure gold.



Alex Majoli is a photographer with Magnum

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com


Related Topics: , , , , ,

Latest Posts

Mg Ko, 20 years old. A Shan farmer with his cow in Lui Pan Sone Village. Kayah State.

Transforming Lives in Burma, One Solar Panel at a Time

In Burma, where only a quarter of the population has access to electricity, solar panels can change lives, as Spanish photographer Ruben Salgado Escudero found out

Read More
Diana Walker—Contour by Getty Images for TIME

An Intimate Portrait of Hillary Clinton in Photographs

LOVED ONE LOST:NAME: Jabril BradleyAGE: 20DOB: 10/6/1990SEX: MaleDATE OF DEATH: 9/1/2011TIME: After MidnightLOCATION: 9th st and Ave of the States, Chester, PACIRCUMSTANCES LEADING UP TO MURDER: Bradley was riding his bike home from a friend’s house on the east side of Chester, September 1, 2011, when an unknown gunman opened fire. He was struck in the back once and continued to ride his bike home. A number of blocks later he collapsed to the ground from blood loss. He bled to death on the street. Bradley’s family claim that he was shot because of mistaken identity. According to his mother, Bradley was supposed to still be in prison. He was serving a sentence for possession of a controlled substance and was allegedly released before his time was up. Within weeks of his murder, the FBI came looking for Bradley at his mothers house, claiming that he got released by mistake. IN PHOTOGRAPH:NAME OF FAMILY MEMBERS: Sister to Jabril Bradley: Danita Harris, 30.Son to Danita Harris: Jah’lil Harris, 3.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 23, 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,629 other followers