Paul Johansson is an actor who played Ferg Donnelly on Mad Men, and as those of you who watch Mad Men know, Ferg Donnelly was a creep. It was Ferg’s unwanted sexual advances toward Joan that ultimately drove her out of McCann Erickson. His character was a total creep.
As it turns out, according to Susan Cheng — a reporter at Buzzfeed who had the unfortunate experience of interviewing Johansson — the guy in real life could be just as creepy as his character. In a post titled, “What Hollywood’s Acceptance Of Sexism Looks Like In Practice,” Cheng writes about that experience. Parts of her conversation with Johansson were recorded, and some were not, but all of it was witnessed by other Buzzfeed employees.
Here are a few of the uncomfortable things that Cheng alleges Johansson said:
— In a conversation with another Buzzfeed employee about tennis, Johansson suggested that their back-and-forth could be construed as “flirting where I am from,” and then weirdly told her, “My serve is pretty strong. I’ll serve the ball right down your throat.”
— He told an Buzzfeed employee that he wanted to take her to his “cave” and put her on his back.
— Under hot fluorescent lights, he indicated that he was “sweating like a rapist.”
— He also asked the reporter if she ever took people into the meeting room to “make out with them?”
It’s not that these statements are not creepy enough on their own; keep in mind, it’s the 51-year-old guy who plays Ferg Donnelly who is saying them.
Of course, despite the fact that many of the statements Johansson made were recorded, Johansson’s lawyer is denying he said some of them, suggesting that others were taken out of context, and claims that Johansson never actually touched Cheng in an inappropriate sexual way.
Cheng nevertheless felt incredibly uncomfortable, and wrote at length about her unpleasant experience with Johannson. It’s definitely worth a read over on Buzzfeed, not just for her reflections on Johannson, but for her thoughts on working as a female reporter.
Not for nothing, here’s an excerpt from an Uproxx interview he gave last week:
Q: But Ferg is a dickhead, let’s face it.
A: Ferg’s not a dickhead! Ferg is a man of the times. Ferg, and every other man of that era, believed that there was some type of entitlement to being a powerful man. If he’s a powerful man and (Joan) works in the company then she should just hand it over. (Laughs)
Q: I guess there’s an argument to be made for that, but I still think he’s a dickhead.
(Laughs) Everybody else was doing it.
Q: I’m curious though — do you find yourself being typecast to play these frat-y/overgrown frat-boy dickheads?
A: You’ve had me on the phone for about 15 minutes now and wouldn’t you immediately cast me as a dickhead?
Uh, yes. Yes, I would.
Related: I am so bummed that he and Jim Hobart never got their comeuppance in Mad Men. Fuckers.