John Slattery reflects on his incredible streak of projects, from 'Mad Men' to 'Spotlight' to 'Veep'

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By: Gibson Johns

John Slattery is on a roll right now: After his star-making seven-season stint on a little show called "Mad Men," the actor won universal acclaim for his turn in "Spotlight," which went on to win Best Picture in February. Not one to wait around, the 53-year-old Boston native decided to take on a new kind of role: That of Charlie Baird in HBO's award-winning comedy "Veep."

On "Veep," Slattery's billionaire banker Baird is relentless in his pursuit of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' no-bullshit President Selina Meyer. In his two-episode turn on the hit show, Slattery exhibits a chemistry with Dreyfus that resulted in scenes of pure comedic magic.

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The actor also recently helped to launch Duracell's "Stay Connected" campaign, which shines a spotlight on hearing impairment, an issue that hits close to home for him: His father suffers from hearing loss. Throughout the month of May, National Better Hearing Month, Duracell will off 50,000 free hearing screenings by phone, and Slattery helped get the ball rolling last week at Santina in the Meatpacking District.

We chatted with John Slattery about his hilarious "Veep" role, how Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes "everybody else look better," his father's reticence to get his hearing checked and where he can possibly go next following such an incredible streak of on-screen projects.

Call 1-844-9-DURACELL for a free hearing screening by phone during the month of May.

Don't miss these recent photos of John Slattery:

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John Slattery reflects on his incredible streak of projects, from 'Mad Men' to 'Spotlight' to 'Veep'
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: John Slattery appears at the Duracell Stay Connected Launch Event at Santina on May 3, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: John Slattery launches Duracell's 'Stay Connected' hearing loss awareness campaign on May 3, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 18: Actor John Slattery attends the Nanette Lepore presentation during Fall 2016 New York Fashion Week at Baccarat Hotel on February 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Actor John Slattery attends the 2016 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony - Arrivals at The Edison Ballroom on February 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Actor John Slattery attends the 2016 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony - Inside at The Edison Ballroom on February 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30: (L-R) Actors Billy Crudup, Brian d'Arcy James, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Michael Keaton, and Liev Schreiber, winners for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture 'Spotlight,' pose in the press room at the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30: Actor John Slattery attends the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: John Slattery poses with St. Jude's patient child Kenlie at Brooks Brothers holiday celebration with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Brooks Brothers Madison Avenue Flagship on December 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Brooks Brothers)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: (L-R) Liev Schreiber, Thomas McCarthy, Rachel McAdams, and John Slattery attend the 25th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on November 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: John Slattery attends the 'Consumed' New York Premiere at AMC Loews 19th Street Theater on November 18, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/FilmMagic)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - OCTOBER 10: Actors Liev Schreiber (L) John Slattery attend 'Spotlight' Q & A during Day 3 of the 23rd Annual Hamptons International Film Festival on October 10, 2015 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images For Hamptons International Film Festival)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - OCTOBER 10: Actor John Slattery attends 'Spotlight' red carpet photo call during Day 3 of the 23rd Annual Hamptons International Film Festival on October 10, 2015 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Hamptons International Film Festival)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Actor John Slattery visits SiriusXM Studios on October 5, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actor John Slattery (L) and Talia Balsam attend the AMC, BBC America, IFC And SundanceTV Emmy After Party at BOA Steakhouse on September 20, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for AMC Networks)
Toronto, Canada - September, 14 2015 - John Slattery arrives on the red carpet at the Princess of Wales Theatre for the premiere of Spotlight at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: John Slattery attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC at BGC Partners, INC on September 11, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 28: John Slattery is seen walking his dog in SoHo on July 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Alessio Botticelli/GC Images)
US Matthew Weiner (L), TV producer writer and director of the Mad Men, talks with US actor John Slattery (R) during a presentation for the TAG-CDMX festival at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City on June 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ALFREDO ESTRELLA (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 08: Actor John Slattery attends the Irish Repertory Theatre's YEATS: The Celebration at Town Hall on June 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 31: Actor John Slattery attends the premiere of 'The Aftermath' at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on May 31, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17: Actor John Slattery attends a 'Mad Men' Live Read and Series Finale Event at The Theater at The Ace Hotel on May 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for AMC)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17: AMC and Sundance President and General Manager Charlie Collier, actor Vincent Kartheiser, actor Jon Hamm, director/writer/executive producer Matthew Weiner and actor John Slattery attend a 'Mad Men' Live Read and Series Finale Event at The Theater at The Ace Hotel on May 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for AMC)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17: Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery attend the Film Independent Special Screening of 'Mad Men' at The Ace Hotel Theater on May 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 198 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor John Slattery during an interview with host Seth Meyers on April 29, 2015 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Danny Neff, Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Actor John Slattery (L), who plays the character 'Roger Sterling' in the AMC series 'Mad Men', chats with actress Christina Hendricks, who plays the character 'Joan Harris' in 'Mad Men', during an event to present the Smithsonian National Museum of American History with objects from the TV series Mad Men on March 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 25: Actor John Slattery attends the 'Mad Men' Black & Red Ball at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on March 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MARCH 23: January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, John Slattery, and director Matthew Weiner attending the 'Mad Men' art installation Unveiling at Time & Life Building on MARCH 23, 2015 in New York, New York. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery of AMC's 'Madmen' appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
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Check out our full conversation with John Slattery below:

You're helping to kick off Duracell's "Stay Connected" campaign, which will shine a light on hearing impairment. Can you talk about why this campaign is so personal and meaningful to you?

My dad wears a hearing aid. He has had hearing loss, and it got to a point where it became difficult to communicate with people in my family -- particularly my mother, who he spends the most time with. She asked him to get checked. He was resistant to it, but when he finally did, he came back with the result that he had hearing loss, so he got a hearing aid. It's changed his life, as well as everybody's lives around him.

That's what Duracell is trying to do with people, in giving all of these free hearing tests out this month.

Do you think that people's reluctance to get tested for hearing loss -- or, at least, your father's reluctance -- comes from a sort of embarrassment that there's a problem?

I think so. There's a reticence to ask anyone to explain themselves or go over something, like a funny story, again. You want to be part of the conversation, but I also think it's maybe generational. That's a generation that isn't used to being indulged as much as we are now, or maybe they're not used to the technology -- they didn't grow up with this kind of technology. I think there's definitely a reticence to do that, but I'm glad to say it worked.

How did your father react when you told him you were going to be part of the "Stay Connected" campaign?

When I asked him it it was okay for me to talk about him [and his hearing loss], he was like, "Sure!" My being in any way public in general is something he gets a kick out of.

You're appearing on the current season of "Veep," and your first episode aired last Sunday...

I haven't seen it yet! I gotta see it.

What?! You must watch it -- you and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have amazing chemistry on camera. What was it like working with her?

Good! She's fantastic. It was a little daunting before I got there, I have to say. But when I got there [the cast] were all super nice and so talented. Julia makes everybody else look better; I'm glad to have been a part of that. I'm a huge fan of hers, and I think she's a wonderful person, too. We had a good time. Not only is she so good, but she also produces and she oversees the writing: From take to take they rewrite jokes. She has a lot to do on that show, and the fact that she made me feel that welcome is a testament to her good she is.

A couple of the cast members stopped by AOL recently and talked about how much improv they do on the show. What was that like? Did you find it difficult to catch on?

Yeah, that's not the way I came up. You see it in these people, how good they are and how long they've been doing that. I don't even think Julia really came up in improv, per say, but she's great at that too. It was really impressive. It's daunting to join that cast that has been doing it so well for so long, and then improving gave me pause.

One of the best parts about "Veep" is the incredible insults that they reel off scene after scene, and your first insult is "asshat." How hard was it to try to keep such a straight face when saying stuff like that?!

Not really that hard! That's my favorite part of the show. It's incredible. It's unbelievable how good they are. [Those insults are] what you want to be armed with.

You're coming off a hot streak of amazing, popular material: "Mad Men" ended last year and you were in "Spotlight," which obviously won Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year. Where do you go after such fantastic successes? What's next?

I don't really think about that. You kind of just go where the best material you find is, or the material you have a connection with. The fact that those were the projects that asked me to be a part of them is an extremely fortunate circumstance. I don't know, I guess I'll just go look for some more good material. I'm really lucky to be doing this play, ["The Front Page,"] so that'll take me into next year and beyond that, who knows!

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