Lesli Linka Glatter Looks Back on Directing ‘Mad Men,’ ‘West Wing,’ ‘ER’ & More

Lesli Linka Glatter Memories Directing TV
© AMC / Courtesy: Everett Collection; © NBC / Courtesy: Everett Collection (2)

You may know Lesli Linka Glatter’s name from her work on Homeland — she served as an executive producer and directed 25 episodes, including the series finale — but you’ve probably also seen her credited on one of your other favorite TV shows.

As the director told us, she loves “being a storyteller” and that, due to how TV has changed over the years, “a story can be whatever it needs to be,” whether that’s a limited series, a multi-episode arc, or a long-running drama like Law & Order: SVUGrey’s Anatomy, and ER.

Scroll down as Glatter shares what stood out about several of the many shows she’s directed over the years.

Twin Peaks - Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Ontkean
Spelling Entertainment / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Twin Peaks

Episodes directed: “Cooper’s Dreams” (Season 1, Episode 6), “The Man Behind the Glass” (Season 2, Episode 3), “Demons” (Season 2, Episode 6), and “The Condemned Woman” (Season 2, Episode 16)

Twin Peaks changed my life. The opportunity to work with David Lynch and Mark Frost, where a director’s vision is really supported and encouraged. These scripts were about going deep into these very unusual characters and finding a visual language to express that.”

Lesli Linka Glatter Memories Directing Law Order SVU
Virginia Sherwood © NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Law & Order: SVU

Episodes directed: “A Single Life” (Season 1, Episode 2) and “Sacrifice” (Season 3, Episode 7)

“I did one of the first episodes of Law & Order. It’s always interesting to come on very early in a show, where you’re still unpacking and discovering what the look and feel of the show’s going to be. The actors, working with Mariska [Hargitay] and Chris Meloni, was wonderful. It’s been on how many years now? … Oh my God, that’s just extraordinary, the life this has had.”

Lesli Linka Glatter Memories Directing Grey's Anatomy
ABC/Bonnie Osborne

Grey's Anatomy

Episode directed: “Let It Be” (Season 2, Episode 8)

“I was there early on and only did one episode, but look at that show. Incredible. It really examined relationships in a very fresh way.”

The West Wing - Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Moira Kelly, John Spencer
© NBC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

The West Wing

Episodes directed: “Election Night” (Season 4, Episode 7), “Inauguration: Part 2—Over There” (Season 4, Episode 15), “Disaster Relief” (Season 5, Episode 6), “Abu el Banat” (Season 5, Episode 9), “Full Disclosure” (Season 5, Episode 15), “Impact Winter” (Season 6, Episode 9), “The Al Smith Dinner” (Season 7, Episode 6), and “Institutional Memory” (Season 7, Episode 21)

“Oh my God. The West Wing for me, like Homeland, had that marriage between big, global, macro, political power and micro, interpersonal, complicated, dynamic relationships. For me, it was about being in the back rooms of power to see how decisions were made. Plus, Aaron Sorkin’s incredible writing and sense of humor in that. And smarts. You were in the room with the smartest possible people.”

Lesli Linka Glatter Memories Directing Gilmore Girls
©Warner Bros. Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

Gilmore Girls

Episodes directed: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1), “Rory’s Dance” (Season 1, Episode 9), “Star-Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers” (Season 1, Episode 16), and “It Should’ve Been Lorelai” (Season 2, Episode 14)

“Yes! I did the pilot with the amazing Amy Sherman-Palladino. Somehow I’ve gotten known for doing a lot of drama and a lot of action, which I love, but I also have this whole other side. Gilmore Girls, the script was so insightful and funny and quick-witted humor. I loved this mother-daughter relationship and exploring that relationship. There hadn’t really been a show that dealt with the power of that connection and that relationship.”

Julianna Margulies and George Clooney in E.R.
© NBC / Courtesy: Everett Collection


Episodes directed: “And Baby Makes Two” (Season 2, Episode 5), “True Lies” (Season 2, Episode 12), “A Hole in the Heart” (Season 4, Episode 22), “Vanishing Act” (Season 5, Episode 4), “The Miracle Worker” (Season 5, Episode 10), “The Domino Heart” (Season 6, Episode 11), “Flight of Fancy” (Season 7, Episode 5), “Get Carter” (Season 10, Episode 13), “Fear” (Season 11, Episode 4), “All About Christmas Eve” (Season 12, Episode 10), “Out on a Limb” (Season 12, Episode 16), “From Here to Paternity” (Season 13, Episode 17), and “The High Holiday” (Season 15, Episode 10)

“I loved [‘A Hole in the Heart.’] I loved that title, but ER was another one of those extraordinary experiences, where it was just the total meeting of story and actors and producers and it was such a wonderfully creative environment. That’s another show that went on for so many years because there are so many stories that can be told in that hospital setting. It’s filled with drama. But also how the cast transformed and changed over the years. It allowed the show to grow and stay fresh.”

Jon Hamm and January Jones in Mad Men - Season 1
AMC / Everett Collection

Mad Men

Episodes directed: “5G” (Season 1, Episode 5), “The Benefactor” (Season 2, Episode 3), “A Night to Remember” (Season 2, Episode 8), “Love Among the Ruins” (Season 3, Episode 2), “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency” (Season 3, Episode 6), and “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” (Season 4, Episode 5)

“This was before basic cable and streaming, but it was the beginning of AMC. But no one really knew, what was AMC at that time? I read the script, and I went, ‘oh my goodness, this is about how we got to where we are now. This is such an extraordinary piece of writing by Matt Weiner, and looking at our own culture and the sexual mores and how women were treated and how men related.” I had just finished reading that David Halberstam book about exactly this and Matt had used a lot of that for inspiration. It’s about all of the things that happened in the ’50s that have shaped the culture the way it is, like the beginning of McDonald’s and Levittown and President Kennedy using television, the first president to use TV as a political medium, Mad Men was just that, looking at our culture … in this very visceral, beautifully told story.”

“That character of Don Draper is so layered and complicated and you love him and you hate him and you accept all of the behavior. There aren’t too many female characters that have those qualities, and I think [Homeland‘s] Carrie Mathison is an iconic female character in that way.”

Lesli Linka Glatter Memories Directing The Walking Dead
Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead

Episode directed: “The Suicide King” (Season 3, Episode 9)

“I don’t usually think of myself directing in the horror genre. It’s not really my area, but I loved The Walking Dead. To me, what it looks like is thematically if everything you know about your culture is stripped away, what are you left with? Who will you become? That’s what I loved about [it]. What are we as a culture and as human beings if all of these conventions of our normal life are taken away? What do we become? Do we rise up and become more magnanimous and generous? Do we degenerate into our own self-protection?”

The Leftovers - Carrie Coon in 'The Book of Nora', series finale
Ben King / ©HBO / courtesy Everett Collection

The Leftovers

Episode directed: “B.J. and the A.C.” (Season 1, Episode 4)

“What an amazing series, looking at these profound…. It’s a little similar thematically to The Walking Dead but couldn’t be more different in how it’s manifested. If something happens that is so out of our norm and cannot be explained, how do we humans deal with it? What are we left with? How do we proceed? How do we go back to some sort of normalcy once everything about your world is shaken?”

Ray Donovan - Jason Butler Harner and Liev Schreiber in 'Breakfast of Champions' - Season 3, Episode 4
Michael Desmond/Showtime/courtesy Everett Collection

Ray Donovan

Episodes directed: “New Birthday” (Season 1, Episode 7) and “Breakfast of Champions” (Season 3, Episode 4)

“Like the Gilmore Girls really looks at mother-daughter and all the levels of that, Ray Donovan is so much about family and the father, the power of the father and the brothers and how you embrace your own authenticity and how difficult that can be. But here we have a main character, Ray, who is so layered and complicated, who’s a fixer, but he has so much in his past that has not been navigated at all. I loved these shows that have these complicated main characters.”