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Elisabeth Moss Called Year-Long Marriage to Fred Armisen "Traumatic" and "Horrible"

The couple got engaged months after meeting at SNL.

For a brief moment at the end of the '00s, a new, somewhat unlikely superstar couple emerged: Elisabeth Moss, who was receiving accolades for her starring role as Peggy Olson on Mad Men, and Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen. After meeting when Moss made a cameo on SNL in 2008, the pair kicked off a whirlwind relationship, marrying in 2009. However, their union didn't even last a full year. Read on to learn why Moss said her brief marriage to Armisen was so "traumatic" and "horrible"—and why he took full responsibility for their split.

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Armisen and Moss met when her co-star hosted SNL.

Moss, who was previously best known for playing President Bartlett's daughter Zoey on The West Wing, began playing secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy on Mad Men in 2007. Armisen, meanwhile, joined the cast of SNL in 2002. It was through those jobs that the actors initially met. In October 2008, Moss made a cameo in a Mad Men-themed sketch when her co-star Jon Hamm hosted the late-night comedy show.

Their romance got very serious very quickly. By January of 2009, Moss and Armisen were engaged. Sharing the news with USA Weekend, Moss didn't reveal many details about how the proposal went down.

"It happened just a few days ago," she said, as reported by People. "It's private, so I don't want to share the details of how it happened, but I will say it was perfect."

The couple got married on Oct. 25, 2009 at New York City's The Foundry, according to JustJared. They chose that date because it was the one-year anniversary of the SNL taping where they first crossed paths. Miss was 27 at the time to Armisen's 42. It was her first marriage, and his second. The Documentary Now star was previously married to British musician Sally Timms.

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They divorced after less than a year of marriage.

Elisabeth Moss and Fred Armisen in 2009
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Prior to their wedding, Moss characterized their relationship as perfect. "We just don't disagree on anything," she said at the Mad Men Season 3 premiere in September 2009, as reported by HuffPost. "It's weird."

A year later, things were much different. On Sept. 20, 2010, a month and five days shy of what would have been their first wedding anniversary, Moss filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. Court documents revealed that they had been separated since that June.

People reported that a source close to the former couple claimed that their careers and busy schedules were the issue. Mad Men filmed in Los Angeles, while SNL is obviously based in New York. The article also noted that Armisen was already in another relationship—this one with SNL co-star Abby Elliot.

Moss accused Armisen of impersonating "a normal person."

Fred Armisen and Elisabeth Moss in 2010
JIMI CELESTE/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

In the years since their split, both Moss and Armisen have made revealing comments about their defunct relationship, indicating that claims about the pressures of show business weren't really the cause of their breakup. Speaking to Page Six in 2012, Moss offered a brutal roast of her ex-husband.

"One of the greatest things I heard someone say about him is, 'He's so great at doing impersonations. But the greatest impersonation he does is that of a normal person.' To me that sums it up," she said, adding that they were not on speaking terms following their divorce. "I don't want to waste any more of my life talking about it."

In a 2014 interview with Vulture, she opened up more about what she believes went wrong.

"Looking back, I feel like I was really young, and at the time I didn't think that I was that young," the Handmaid's Tale star said. "[The marriage] was extremely traumatic and awful and horrible. At the same time, it turned out for the best. I'm glad that I'm not there. I'm glad that it didn't happen when I was 50. I'm glad I didn't have kids. And I got that out of the way. Hopefully. Like, that's probably not going to happen again."

Armisen owned up to being a "terrible husband."

Elisabeth Moss and Fred Armisen in 2009
Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Barneys

For his part, Armisen hasn't publicly countered Moss' statements. In fact, he's taken responsibility for what he sees as his failings.

"I think I was a terrible husband, I think I'm a terrible boyfriend," Armisen told Howard Stern in 2013, as reported by Us Weekly. (When Vulture read that quote to Moss a year later, she evidently nodded in agreement.)

"I want it all—fast," he explained on the radio show. "I want to be married … the amount of girls I've lived with right away … and then somewhere around a year, two years, I get freaked out."

In a 2016 episode of WTF With Marc Maron, the comedian elaborated, saying he was caught up in the beginning of his relationship with Moss the way he tends to be with most women he's interested in.

"This is gonna sound so shallow, but I get lost in fantasy a lot … the fantasy of this person from Mad Men," he said. "I have a problem with intimacy, where all of a sudden, there's a real person there … and now, there's a person behind this. It's not the girl on Mad Men."

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They both moved on.

After his split from Moss, Armisen was linked to actor Natasha Lyonne from 2014 to 2022. He's now in a relationship with comedian and Garfunkel and Oates member Riki Lindhome.

Meanwhile, perhaps as a reaction to her marriage to Armisen and how it played out in the press, Moss keeps her personal life fairly quiet. In January of 2024, she revealed that she's expecting her first child. However, a source told Life & Style that she won't be revealing the identity of the father to the public, as she "doesn't think it's anyone's business."

"Elisabeth has been burned before in past relationships and makes it a point to keep that part of her life private," the source said.

James Grebey
James has been an entertainment journalist for more than a decade, writing and editing for outlets like Vulture, Inverse, Polygon, TIME, The Daily Beast, SPIN Magazine, Fatherly, and more. Read more
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