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Michael Mosley On 'Pan Am': Ted Vanderway Takes To The Sky

Michael Mosley

First Posted: 10/31/11 12:42 PM ET Updated: 10/31/11 12:42 PM ET

Michael Mosley is in the co-pilot's seat, but when it comes to comic relief on ABC's new flight drama, "Pan Am," he's the undisputed captain.

The TV veteran, best known for his roles in "Kidnapped" and the final season of "Scrubs," plays Ted Vanderway in the flashy new '60s-set series, manning the cockpit alongside Mike Vogel's Dean Lowrey. While Dean is often trying to navigate through various romantic entanglements -- sometimes with members of a glamorous flight crew that includes Christina Ricci, Karine Vanasse, Kelli Garner and Margot Robbie -- Ted is quick with a joke or a generous helping hand to keep the operation running smoothly. Even if he sometimes hates to admit it.

HuffPost caught up with Mosley late last week as he was driving out to a shoot at an airport on Long Island, N.Y., making it the perfect time to discuss his role, comparisons to "Mad Men," the inner workings of the show and just what's in store for the cast and crew.

The show ostensibly takes place all over the world; where do you do all of the filming? And how does the plane interior work?

We have a lot of stuff over at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, and then we travel all over New York for other locations for the various places in the world that we go to. We have a 747 -- an actual cockpit -- that they found in an aviation graveyard in California and drove out here that they've souped up to fake for the 707 that's in the show. And then they built this whole fuselage in this hangar in Brooklyn that they can pop off the sides of it, they can pop off the nose, they can pop up different things. They've figured out how to shoot all sorts of different angles in that plane. And then the Idlewild airport is a big stage right in that same location that has green screens over the place. They can do anything now with the green screens, it's crazy.

How'd you initially get involved?

I auditioned. They gave me the sides for the Dean character and then I read the script and I said, "You know, I think I've got to pitch for this other guy." And they said, get those sides and check it out, and so I memorized both sets of sides, and I went in and Tommy was there and I said, "I got these sides for Dean but I like the Ted character, too, so which one do you think I should audition for?" And he said, "Well which one do you want to audition for?" And I said, "Ted" and he said, "I think so too," so that's [what] happened.

He isn't just a sidekick, either; Ted has a much larger range of emotions and story.

It's exciting. They gave me some good stuff to do there; he wanted to go to space, and that fell through and his dad was a dick.

Was there a lot of pressure going into the season, knowing that it was one of the most highly touted new series?

As far as the "Mad Men" thing, I love "Mad Men." It's one of my favorite shows, I think it's an amazing series. "Mad Men" is kind of deconstructing the '60s, showing how awful these people kind of were to each other, and I think we're kind of the opposite. I think we're more of a throwback to Hollywood and epic story lines and the romance of the time.

Does playing a pilot change the way you think of real life pilots?

Yeah, definitely. Flying, for some reason, has never been my favorite thing, but after taking some aviation classes and reading about it and learning about it... They've been doing this for over a hundred years, they've been to the moon and back, they kind of have a good system going here. Flying is a little bit different now, it's like taking the A train to Washington Heights or something. People are in their Uggs and sweatpants and plug in their iPods and just try to get through it, but back then, flying was part of the destination. That was part of the story you were going to tell when you got home.

When I fly now I think about how jealous I am of the planes they were on.

I know, it's crazy. Now it's "can I get a bag of pretzels and a Diet Coke for five bucks?" It's different.

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