The third season of the acclaimed TV show Mad Men was a turbulent one for openly gay actor Bryan Batt, as his closeted character, Salvatore Romano, was fired from the advertising firm for rejecting a male client’s advances. Batt talked with Nunn on One about the show, New Orleans and his mother.
WCT: (Windy City Times) Hi, Bryan. I caught you in the middle of moving.
BB: (Bryan Batt) We [Batt and partner Tom Cianfichi] just bought a home in New Orleans. We live here part-time. We are trying to get everything taken care of. It is a nightmare. We love the house. If I don’t have one thing going on, it’s another. What does not kill me makes me bitter.
WCT: You live in New Orleans, New York and L.A. How does that work?
BB: Yeah. We have a place in New York and here in New Orleans. When I go to L.A. and it is off-season then I stay with friends. If I am filming then I rent a place.
WCT: This was an emotional season on Mad Men with [Sal] being fired on the show.
BB: Yes. People were up in arms about it. Everyone is asking me if I am coming back and I do not know. They have said in interviews that they don’t kill people, but when you think about what happened with Sal then it would make no sense to be hired back.
WCT: That’s true.
BB: So we don’t know what will happen. I am like everyone else. I am crossing my fingers in the meantime.
WCT: You are busy with other projects, such as Ugly Betty.
BB: I just filmed the last two episodes.
WCT: You also have a new book coming out called She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Mother. Tell us about it.
BB: It came out on May 4 [of last year]. They are calling it a memoir. I am calling it a “mom-oir.” It really celebrates her. She is a wonderful lady. She is still with us, and battling cancer right now. She does it with a smile, in full makeup and painted nails. She is quite an incredible Steel Magnolia/Auntie Mame of a mother. So many books are people trashing or blaming their mother. I lucked out. I really did.
WCT: Was she always supportive of you being gay?
BB: Oh, she had little issues but when I did tell her she said, “No matter what I love you. You will always be my son and that will never change.” My brother was the one I was afraid of. He is a big ol’ New Orleans boy. He asked and I couldn’t say no. He said, “Thank God. I thought you weren’t getting any!”
WCT: [Laughing] I love that!
BB: Yeah. He is my Republican brother that supports same-sex marriage. Like life, there is a lot of laughter in my book. That is how I see things. There are some very difficult dark moments. My father battled alcoholism. He was never abusive but it was very difficult at times. The book is like a big rollercoaster ride. People that have read it really like it. I am hoping it does well. This tricoastal thing is expensive. This book needs to make some cash.
WCT: You should go on a book tour and come up to Chicago.
BB: I would love to come to Chicago! I am doing one in New York, New Orleans and L.A. so far, but we will see.
WCT: You own a gift and accessories store called Hazelnut with your partner.
BB: Yes. As of now spring has exploded here. It is gorgeous today. The store is crowded and it is another ball up in the air. Thank God for my partner because that is really his baby. He has done a great job with it. I helped design the store but he really keeps it rolling along. Everyone that comes in just thinks it’s lovely and unique. It is not like going to a mall and seeing the same old stuff that some committee decided upon. What I love about Magazine Street and our store in particular is that it’s our taste and things we like. Like all of the stores up and down the street, it is the individual owners aesthetic and something watered down for the average person. I don’t gear myself towards average.
WCT: I am actually doing a story in Shreveport, La., next month.
BB: I have only been once. It was one of these one-night stops when I was touring with Cats when I was an infant.
WCT: Do you want to do more musicals?
BB: I would love to. Musicals are so hard—especially if you have a really good part or it’s vocally demanding. You have to live like a nun the whole time you are doing it. They are fun. There is nothing like walking on a Broadway stage.