Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Matthew Weiner and Jessica Pare on 'Zou Bisou Bisou,' the '60s tune that kept 'Mad Men' humming

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WEINER: [Jon Hamm’s reaction] was scripted. It’s one of those things where the character could go many different ways, and my basic feeling was — and Jon loved this — that Don would be embarrassed at first, and then he would really enjoy it. Because he loves that woman. And we’re kind of wondering the same as Peggy, who says, “I don’t recognize that man.” He’s in love, and he’s changed. The other thing that’s great is that Jon gives you such a range of behavior, but he really gauged it. And director Jennifer Getzinger worked with him; we had a lot of talk about how he sat down, and his sort of getting lost in the song at a certain point.

PARE: She’s giving him a gift. She spent time in secret to practice a dance routine probably with a dance instructor, and it never once crosses her mind that it might be embarrassing for him because… how could it be? She’s giving him this performance. I think that’s so lovely. It’s not something that I would find in myself, but I really get it. It’s something my mom would do, for sure. It’s nice to be able to take inspiration from her.

WEINER: The most amazing thing about it is after doing the choreography, and the director coming in, and doing all this preparation, and recording our own version of the song with David Carbonara, and having Jessica sing it, when we got to the set, the cast is really there. Everyone you see at that party was really standing there when she did it the first time. I’m telling you, my heart was beating so much. And when she did it, everyone just burst into applause. Seriously, it’s the thing that separates them from the rest of us: the ability to commit to something like that and not be embarrassed. It’s very impressive to me. Something I can’t do.

PARE: Everything leading up to that moment is sheer terror. Very cold and hot all at once, and I definitely felt like I might just pass out, which would be embarrassing. At that point, you just let your body take over, and you do it. There’s no place to hide any more, and you trust that your body has memorized the dance and all the lyrics are in your brain. It’s a leap. Jumping in with both feet and not only doing this dance, which I’m not comfortable with, but doing it in front of these incredibly iconic performers — I mean, Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks and Lizzie Moss — was unnerving. But I think part of my enjoyment of the scene is knowing exactly how terrified I was. I don’t think I ever quite got through it perfectly every single time, but with the luxury of multiple takes and the incredible editing team [led by Christopher Gay] — honestly, if you had seen what was happening on set, you’d be like, “Oh good for you, honey. You did a good job.”

WEINER: There are a huge amount of people on this show who can sing. Some of them say they can’t, and then you get them in there, and they sure can sing better than I can. We all said to Jessica, “You might want to change your email from whatever it was. There’s a chance that you’re going to be more famous than you were after this airs.”

PARE: I’ll be perfectly honest with you, the next day [following the premiere] when I was walking down the street, I thought I was going to be f—king famous. [Laughs] I popped in the grocery store and was like, “Hey guys, ‘Zou Bisou,’ anybody? No? Really? No one? Okay.” But after a few weeks, you could tell that people were catching up [with their DVRs], and then I went to New York, and that was a whole different story. I definitely was getting recognized. Occasionally, I’ll get into an elevator and people will be quiet — like they’ll be talking, and then I’ll get in and everyone shuts up. And I have this little fantasy that maybe I’ll indulge one day where I’ll let the moment of silence sit for a second, and then just be like, “Zou bisou bisou…” But I always lose my nerve because maybe they’re just being quiet because I have something on my face.

WEINER: Whenever anybody says that they’re trying to create watercooler sh–, they are insane. You have no idea, and you don’t even hope for it. All I knew is that we could not stop humming that song, and by the time it came out, I was like I don’t think I want to hear that song ever again. So I was totally surprised. I didn’t know if the show was going to premiere and then disappear this time — because we had been off the air for so long, I didn’t know if we were going to be punished for that. Or forgotten. So the fact that people enjoyed it so much and were downloading the song, and it became a cultural reference, I was totally surprised. We didn’t know that was going to happen, and it made me very excited to see people were engaging in it because the show had moved on to a different place. I never want to repeat myself, so having a new dynamic accepted by the viewing audience, that’s kind of your dream come true.

PARE: I did a couple of dates with the Jesus and the Mary Chain last summer because of “Zou Bisou Bisou,” which was amazing because they’ve been one of my favorite bands for forever, but I’ve let [the song] rest. I don’t know if I’ll get in trouble for telling you this, but, my mom loves it so much that she’s actually performed it at parties. It’s so sweet. She really loves it, and I did tell her that I really took a lot of inspiration from her, so I think that kind of inspired her to try it out.

Read more:
‘Mad Men’: The ‘Zou Bisou, Bisou’ song is already available on iTunes and vinyl (!)
‘Mad Men’ cover story: Don of a New Era
‘Mad Men’s Jessica Paré on angry floor sex

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