It's strange to chat with Matthew Weiner about anything but "Mad Men," which has propelled its creator to the top of his field.
But the beloved AMC show comes to an end next year and Weiner is faced with the age-old dilemma so many great artists have faced: the question of what to do next.
The 59-year-old is getting a bit of a jump start on that future with Friday's release of "Are You Here," a dysfunctional family feature he has written and directed that stars Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler and Zach Galifianakis.
amNewYork spoke with the nine-time Emmy winner about the movie and what's in store after the curtain falls on "Mad Men."
Beyond the obvious, what was different in doing this movie rather than the show?
There was a lot of stuff in the script for the movie that you write in there to sell the movie. ... For "Mad Men," where I didn't have to sell anything, we would just shoot the script and it was an actual blueprint.
What about working with movie stars?
Some of my cast have become movie stars and all of them should be movie stars but we started together -- yes I hired them -- but in a relationship of great equality, sort of coming into it together and learning to trust each other. It wasn't that big of a learning curve; we were all like, "I can't believe we're getting to do this." And then you're dealing with people who have way more experience than you do. Owen Wilson has an Oscar nomination for writing. He had just worked with Woody Allen. It's not just my feelings of trying to impress them but you really have to earn their trust.
Do you feel added pressure to deliver a great "Mad Men" ending?
It's not overwhelming because I've been there before. I always feel that way. Every script is conceived and written with that pressure. I don't know. The conversation about the anticipation of it, I don't know what to tell you. I know I don't talk about what's going to happen on the show and there's nothing else to talk about, but every statement I make, "People may not like it," "I really like it," "The people I work with liked it," "It's the way I wanted to do it," I don't know what else to say ...
So what's next for you?
I will take that as an immediate question. I'm still finishing the show and I am basically planning on not doing anything until the show airs. I need to find out what's on my mind and re-connect with the non-producing part of the world. I wrote a play during one of the hiatuses that I may pursue that's in a drawer, but for the most part in terms of what is next, movie, TV, whatever, I'm a storyteller and I'm going to wait and see what's on my mind. That's scary too, let me tell you.