Lane Pryce

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Lane Pryce
Mad Men character
Lane Pryce.jpg
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce
First appearance "Out of Town" (3.01)
Last appearance "Commissions and Fees" (5.12)
Created by Matthew Weiner
Portrayed by Jared Harris
Occupation Founding and Junior Partner and Financial Chief of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (former)
Financial Chief of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency for Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe (former)
Family Robert Pryce
Spouse(s) Rebecca Pryce
Children Nigel Pryce
Nationality English

Lane Pryce is a fictional character in Mad Men, portrayed by Jared Harris.[1]

A newcomer to the United States as of 1963, he initially acts as financial officer at Sterling Cooper, but eventually leaves, along with a handful of his co-workers, to form a new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

For his performance, Harris was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2012.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Background and personality[edit]

Born May 10, 1916, Lane was raised by a strict and abusive father, himself a middle-class traveling salesman. In his adulthood, Lane served in World War II as a supply assistant in Rosyth, and married a woman named Rebecca, with whom he had a son named Nigel. He also worked for ad agency Putnam Powell and Lowe, where he was given the task of handling mergers and takeovers.

Lane is portrayed as being caught between two worlds: he enjoys his new life in the United States, but has trouble adapting to his adopted country's customs. He often appears stiff and reserved but does let his hair down on occasion, usually after enjoying a drink. He isn't particularly keen on football, though he successfully uses an outing to the pub for the 1966 World Cup Final to set up a potential account with Jaguar.

Sterling Cooper[edit]

PPL sends Lane to Sterling Cooper, which the company had recently acquired, tasking him with trimming operating expenses. He begins by firing many employees, including long-time employee Burt Peterson, who was the head of accounts, and naming Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove as his joint successors. Lane angers Don and becomes isolated from the company when he expresses PPL's lack of interest in a potentially lucrative account with Madison Square Garden. Although he is initially unaware of PPL's plans for Sterling Cooper, he later learns that he has been instructed to cut overhead so that the company can be sold for a profit.[2] Lane's superiors at PPL then transfer him to India - a plan that is aborted after his would-be replacement is injured in a freak accident.[3] Roger Sterling, Bertram Cooper, and Don Draper convince him to join them in starting a new agency, making him a named partner in exchange for "firing" the three of them in order to void their contracts, which contain non-compete clauses that would have otherwise prohibited their continued work in advertising.[4]

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce[edit]

It soon becomes apparent that Lane has a knack for managing company revenues and controlling costs, a talent the other partners lack, which is needed at the new firm. Lane, along with Joan, is credited with keeping the company running and managing the day-to-day operations.

In Season 4, Lane's marriage falls apart, as Rebecca, who genuinely loves him, finds the strains of homesickness and culture shock too much to bear, and returns with their son to London indefinitely. Lane and Don end up meeting at work, then get drunk and go for a night out on the town. Lane sleeps with a prostitute supplied by Don. Lane pays Don for her services the following morning, and thanks him for the "welcome distraction".[5] When Lane's family is supposed to come to New York to see him, he is instead visited by his elderly father, who intends to take Lane home to England to sort out his affairs. Around the same time, Lane begins a relationship with a young African-American Playboy Bunny named Toni, and later introduces her to his father. His father beats Lane with his cane, ordering him to return to London to reunite with his family. Lane takes a short leave-of-absence from the agency, and later returns to New York with his family.[6]

In Season 5, Lane faces severe financial troubles due to owing an extensive amount of taxes and struggles to keep his balance at work. During three years at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, he has been operating at a loss and struggles to turn the agency around. Though Lane and Joan Harris are friendly compatriots, responsible for keeping the company physically running, Lane often makes inappropriate sexual remarks that upset and disgust her. Lane is the one responsible for getting Joan her 5% speaking partnership. While ultimately in Joan's best long-term interests, Lane makes the suggestion to her as a means of covering up his embezzlement. If she had accepted the original cash offer, his theft would have been discovered, but the cashless partnership kept it concealed a while longer.


To cover a large tax bill in the UK, incurred when he cashes-in investments to cover his partnership fee, Lane embezzles $7,500 from the company by forging Don's signature on a supposed Christmas bonus payment he anticipates receiving. However, he is left feeling uneasy when the partners announce they will be forgoing their bonuses for that year.[7] Bert Cooper discovers the cancelled check when looking through unopened account statements. Bert confronts Don about his approving a bonus payment to Lane when the firm decided to not pay bonuses. Don tells Bert he will handle it, but does not inform him that he did not sign the check.[8]

Don meets with Lane, who admits to the embezzlement after trying to lie his way out of it. Erupting with anger, Lane insists he could not bear the shame of asking for a loan and has never been compensated for his contribution to the agency; he also makes a snide remark about Don's wealth status, and generally tries to justify his fraudulent actions. Don has lost all trust in Lane, though, and says that while he will cover the $7,500, Lane will need to resign and gives him the weekend to "think of an elegant exit." Lane then uncharacteristically flirts with Joan, makes a lewd remark to her, and seems grimly happy when she responds with muted anger. Upon returning home after this encounter, Lane discovers that Rebecca, unaware of their financial situation, has bought him a new Jaguar (paid by check). Pryce puts his affairs in order and attempts to take his life via carbon monoxide poisoning; however, the attempt fails when the Jaguar doesn't start. He then goes to SCDP, types a resignation letter, and hangs himself in his office. Upon finding his body, the partners also find a boilerplate resignation letter, and cut his body down. Refusing to hold a memorial service, Rebecca has Lane's body shipped to London for burial.[8]

In the wake of Lane's suicide, the partners are left mourning the loss. Joan, in particular, feels guilty over dismissing him after he left the meeting with Don, and she confesses to Don that she feels responsible for his death. Later, Don delivers a $50,000 check to repay Lane's investment in the agency (though it's noted elsewhere that the firm actually received much more than that, $175,000, under an insurance policy set up to pay out if any of the partners died). In response, Rebecca claims that Lane was worth more to the agency than $50,000 and accuses Don and the partners of filling "a man like that with ambition", leading to his suicide.[9]


  1. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (June 4, 2012). "Jared Harris of 'Mad Men' Discusses Sunday's Episode". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Out of Town". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 1. August 16, 2009. AMC. 
  3. ^ "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 6. September 20, 2009. AMC. 
  4. ^ "Shut the Door. Have a Seat.". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 13. November 8, 2009. AMC. 
  5. ^ "The Good News". Mad Men. Season 4. Episode 3. August 8, 2010. AMC. 
  6. ^ "Hands and Knees". Mad Men. Season 4. Episode 10. September 26, 2010. AMC. 
  7. ^ "Christmas Waltz". Mad Men. Season 5. Episode 10. May 20, 2012. AMC. 
  8. ^ a b "Commissions and Fees". Mad Men. Season 5. Episode 12. June 3, 2012. AMC. 
  9. ^ "The Phantom". Mad Men. Season 5. Episode 13. June 10, 2012. AMC. 

External links[edit]