'Mad Men' Final Season: Stars, creator open up on series' legacy

'Mad Men' Final Season: Stars, creator open up on series' legacy (Image 1)
'Mad Men' Final Season: Stars, creator open up on series' legacy (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

(NBC NEWS) - How do you say goodbye to a television show that redefined obsessive attention to detail — from the 1960s-era ladybug wallpaper to the Life magazines in the background, swapped out from week to week? 

How do you walk away from a fictional world that seemed so real?"Are you kidding me?" said Christina Hendricks, who plays the office manager-turned- partner Joan Holloway on AMC's "Mad Men." "I'm going around this office with Post-Its. I'm like, dibs. Dibs. Dibs."

The series, which elevated basic-cable drama and started a retro fashion trend when it premiered in 2007, begins its final run of episodes on Sunday. Some of its stars spoke to NBC News before the Sterling Cooper ad agency closes its doors for good.

Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson, the shy secretary who became a formidable copy-writer, said she had butterflies in her stomach as she began shooting her final scenes.

"I love playing her. I love it so much. And it feels like the most comfortable pair of pajamas you could ever imagine," she said. "I know that I will see these people again, and hopefully work with some of them again. But I will never see Peggy again, and I will never see Don again, and I will never see Joan, and I will never see Pete. And that, to me, is the sad part. That's what gets me."

The show has racked up 15 Emmys as it has tracked its characters through the turbulent '60s and the glossy environs of New York advertising. Audiences have gushed over the soapy twists, sly humor and cocktail-fueled debauchery. Critics have rhapsodized about its period sets, most of them accurate down to the tchotchkes on a dresser.

Moss called it a testament to the show's creator, Matthew Weiner, who wrote the pilot 14 years ago. He said that he sold the show at the beginning by saying: "This is a very sexy period in American history that's kinda been ignored."

Weiner himself says he's known the ending for about four years. As for the show's legacy, he says that's for others to decide.

"I don't want to sound like Don Draper, but I do think that it was very different than what else was out there," he said. "I heard right away from people — a really strong identification with a lot of the characters, no matter how flawed they were."

As for Draper himself, the actor Jon Hamm, he says he'll miss something simple: a social hub that the cast calls Basecamp.

It began as a table and folding chairs off the set, a place where the actors could escape cramped trailers and hang out and play cards or board games. It grew into a tent and then, as a gift to the cast from the producers, a tricked-out two-level deck with a firepit.

"We all appreciate it immensely," Hamm said. "And we all know why we're there. We all are there because we all get along with each other, love each other, want to spend time with each other."

"Because I've never had that on a show ever, where people just want to hang out," he said. "It's been, like many things on this show, it has been a unique experience for me."