Jon Hamm used to work in porn (sweet Jesus)

Actor Jon Hamm attends the Toronto International Film Festival press conference for 'The Town' at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Toronto, Canada on September 10, 2010. ( UPI / Christine Chew ) Photo via Newscom

Jon Hamm gave an extensive interview to The Guardian (UK) this week, and as always, he’s a great interview. He talks extensively about Mad Men (the Brits are obsessed with the show, maybe even more than Americans), about his film The Town (where he’s lovely) and about his own history of depression. The full Guardian piece is here – it’s lengthy and full of fan-girl praise. The Hamm gently touches the interviewer because she had some coffee on her arm, and she pretty much orgasms right there. As we all would, I don’t blame her. So I’ll just do the highlights:

The Hamm on The Draper: “Oh, that man who literally, at his fundament, is not who he says he is!” says Hamm of Draper. “Who struggles with fundamental dissatisfaction, with a desire to be better or understood or different in some way…” While wearing suits of devastating sharpness? “Ha! Right!”

On his FBI Agent character in The Town: “Part of what’s exciting about playing this guy is that this is a guy whose moral compass is very much aligned. He’s a guy who knows what is right and what is wrong, and there are grey areas in his world, but his day-to-day job is a very simple equation: there are people who do bad things, and his job is to stop them from doing bad things or to catch them and put them away after they’ve done bad things. It was nice to play a person who doesn’t live in those grey areas.” But you play the grey areas so well, I say. “Ha ha! Thank you. But it was also… not set in the 60s, and I’d had, like, 15 scripts to play guys who…” Were rather… Donnish? “A little bit of that.”

On later-in-life success: “It’s nice not to have to worry about how you’re going to pay your bills. And it’s a problem I’ve had for far longer than I haven’t had it. Not worrying about the bills is still very new for me.”

On acting, rejection and ambition: “I don’t think anyone puts themselves through the indignity and humiliation and seas of depression and rejection and everything else…” Was he ambitious? “Oh, I think so. You don’t chuck it all in and pitch a car westward and go to LA without thinking some day, down the line, ideally, it’ll work out positively.”

The early days of his acting career: “I had met Steven Spielberg and all these people that had my eyes just rolling back in my head. The opportunities I almost had! And there’s this hideous thing they make you do when you go up for a television show: they make you sign a contract before you walk into the final audition. The last thing they want is for you to have everyone fall in love with you, and then you not have a deal in place. So you sign this thing – and I had no money; I was broke. You’re staring at the five-figure pay cheque you’ll get… if… If! A crazy amount of money for someone who has none. So I was thinking: I’ll pay my loans off and do this and that and maybe get my car fixed… and by that time they’re calling you in, you’re like: ‘Sh-t! I have to do the scene! What the f-ck are the lines?’ I would get hung up on that stuff and be an utter failure in the room.”

Three years in, Hamm was dropped by William Morris: “Which was rough. But also: gut check time. I thought: ‘I could go home, I could teach…’ I had already taught [drama at John Burroughs High School in Missouri] and yes, I think I probably was a good teacher.” But he stayed. He found another agent, and the small roles in big films began rolling in. When all else failed Hamm got by: flirting with his landlady in the interest of getting extensions on the rent (“I was managing that situation, yes…”) and getting the bus, unheard of in LA, when his car broke down and he couldn’t afford to fix it.

He used to work in porn! He was working as the set dresser on a soft porn film (porn films need set dressers? “You gotta move cameras around, and ashtrays; and continuity is apparently an issue”) when Jennifer Westfeldt, who was at that point a distant acquaintance of Hamm’s, invited him to be in a play she was working on in New York. “I came in after another 12-hour day [on the porn film] to this message on my answer phone, and I was so exhausted and depressed and bone tired that I called her back immediately: ‘Yes! I don’t care what it is!’ I borrowed money for a ticket and lived in New York for six weeks on about $300, stayed on a friend’s coach, roller-bladed everywhere…” The play, Lipschtick, was the basis for Kissing Jessica Stein; and Hamm’s six-week stint on it kick-started his and Westfeldt’s relationship. She saved you, I say. “Totally,” he says.

The Hamm had mixed feelings about being cast as The Draper: “Honestly? It had gone on for so long and I’d been so deluded by the fact that I had to prepare virtually every scene in the pilot and read it for the director, and writer, and the executives and all this other stuff, and all this other stuff… and they had finally flown me to New York, where all the executives were. Matt [Weiner] was treating me like I’d already got the part. ‘Just walk around here like you own the place, because you are getting this part.’ I was: ‘All right, we’ll see.’ I was supposed to meet with all the executives for an impromptu cocktail session, at the top of the Gansevoort hotel [in midtown Manhattan]; a beautiful, beautiful fall day. Crisp and lovely. Had a cocktail. Had a meandering, nebulous discussion about things, because I still hadn’t been offered the part… and so, OK, we pay the bill and… meanwhile there was this huge football conference. Soccer. Franz Beckenbauer and Pelé and all these people were there, and a lot of hubbub. I was riding down in the elevator with Franz Beckenbauer, as you do; and the women next to me was the executive, and during the elevator ride, she kind of casually leans over to me and says: ‘By the way, you have the part.’ And my focus was a little split. I said: ‘Thanks!’ And: ‘That’s Beckenbauer! You know that, right?’ We got off the elevator and crazy European journalists are running around, taking photographs in nine different languages… But there’s a sense of relief when you get a part that is almost immediately followed by a sense of impending dread. ‘Now, I have to do it…’”

The Hamm talks about playing The Draper: “Well, I’m an actor. A big part of acting is subverting who you are in the service of a character. So I understand that. And the similarities between mine and Don’s life are well documented. Growing up as a bit of a wanderer, finding my own way, making my own story… Losing my parents early on, albeit not as dramatically and tragically as Don.”

Early tragedies: When Jon Hamm was 10 years old his mother died, suddenly, of stomach cancer. Hamm went to live with his father, who had divorced his mother when he was two. “To lose a parent at 10 – which is young, though not unprecedented – it means you understand, at a very early age, what permanence is.” And then, 10 years later, when Hamm was studying English at the University of Texas, his father died. “I was… unmoored by that. But I was very fortunate to have really good friends in my life whose parents sort of rallied: ‘We’re gonna help this kid out, because otherwise there’s going to be trouble…’ Were they right? I say. “Oh yeah,” he says.

On his depression: You could have lost it? “Easily. I struggled with chronic depression. I was in bad shape. I knew I had to get back in school and back in some kind of structured environment and… continue.” What helped? “Work.” Therapy? “I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, your own bullsh-t. It helps. And honestly? Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: ‘I want to get up in the morning; I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go do my sh-t and go to work and…’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!”

And did his parents’ death, and that depression, inform him as an actor? “Well, the theatre department always seems to be the sort of… way station for the orphans and all the people who don’t fit in anywhere else. I always swirled back to it.”

On Twitter: “What with Twitter and the instant global dissemination of media and… It’s a tricky landscape to navigate now. Especially if you’re young and do stupid things, like young people do. Old people do stupid things, too, it’s just that…” We go to bed earlier? “Ha! We go to bed earlier! Right!”

On being gorgeous: “Well, you know, it’s all so, sort of… ephemeral.” Oh come on, I say. It must be lovely to be so routinely fancied. “I suppose… it’s certainly nice for people to consider you attractive or… handsome or whatever the particular adjective is. But it’s completely subjective…” [in his case, I'm not sure it is, actually] “…and mostly ephemeral and I just rolled off a plane and I don’t know how great I look now and, ha ha, I’m not sure what time it is, or what day, or… I mean, I really don’t look like Don Draper now, do I?”

On Jennifer Westfeldt: “We just… really love each other.”

[From The Guardian]

This is what happens when a real man becomes a star. There’s no ego, no image consulting, no playing the media. Just humility, humor and honesty. God, I love him. I love how candid he is. I love that a good guy like this made it. Oh… Hamm.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Actor Jon Hamm arrives at 'The Town' Premiere held at Roy Thomson Hall during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Actors Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt arrive at the gala presentation for the film ' The Town ' during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival September 11, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill (CANADA - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT PROFILE)

VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Actor Jon Hamm attends the 'The Town' Premiere during the 67th Venice Film Festival at the Sala Grande Palazzo Del Cinema on September 8, 2010 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

10 September 2010 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm. The Town Press Conference - 2010 Toronto International Film Festival held at the Hyatt Regency. Photo Credit: Brent Perniac/AdMedia

VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08: Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm attend the 'The Town' premiere during the 67th Venice Film Festival at the Sala Grande Palazzo Del Cinema on September 8, 2010 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

 

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47 Responses to “Jon Hamm used to work in porn (sweet Jesus)”

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  1. RHONYC says:

    his wife looks like lisa kudrow with cheek implants. :-)

  2. hstl1 says:

    So, Ms. House of Wax Face saved him and that’s the basis of a relationship? I am starting the countdown clock on this relationship. When he starts enjoying his success more and knocks off the Aww-shucks routine, I bet things look different. But, I am cynical that way.

  3. Samigirl says:

    What’s not to love about him?

  4. KatHug says:

    i love jon hamm! i met him once and he was as lovely in person as he is in this interview

  5. LOVE ANGELINA says:

    OMG was that him in Kissing Jessica Stein. OMG I have to go to IMDB right now….Oh snap he was….now I know why his girlfriend looks sooo familiar. OMG I loved that movie, I haven’t seen it awhile but wow so cool.

    Jon is slowly growing on me, I can’t like him from his character on Mad Men but the more he talks I like him.

    LOL Love the pics of him and Ben Affleck. Hah.

  6. Rachel says:

    I just lost all hope with that last line. Which made me sigh, but the sigh was double edged. One part “awwww” and one part “shit, now he’ll never be mine”

  7. truthSF says:

    Careful Kaiser, don’t have an orgasm while typing, lol.

    Edit:

    On Jennifer Westfeldt: “We just… really love each other.”

    It’s time to kill the bitch, so we all can have a chance with him. J/K…I think.

  8. Jeri says:

    Handsome, smart & no ego problems! How did that happen?

  9. Fluffy Kitten Tail says:

    Jennifer is not his wife! (sorry, I am just jealous and hoping she never is!)

    I love him!

  10. Alexa says:

    Not that he’s not already handsome…but – the makeup, hair, and costume people do such a FAB job of giving him that over-the-top vintage sexy thing. I have never watched the show (not yet anyway) but I’ve seen tons of ads and the costumes, makeup, hair, scenery . . . that’s what impresses me the most! He seems like a nice guy, though. And wouldn’t it be nice if his great relationship with Jennifer Westfeldt continues for the longterm!

  11. Fedup says:

    HSTL1 – watch Kissing Jessica Stein and you’ll understand what drew him to her. She’s very talented and funny in her own right. Just because she doesn’t look like a vapid starlet doesn’t mean she isn’t a great person to be with. They have 12 years together – that means something.

  12. Zeit says:

    I’m getting the gay vibe big time from him…

  13. Marjalane says:

    Sorry, but he just looks like Hugh Jackman’s uglier older brother to me.

  14. The Hamm is My Dream Man says:

    He’s just so dreamy and gorgeous.

    He makes me wanna clutch my pearls and come running down a flight of stairs and into his arms.

    Too much?

  15. krissy_kitty says:

    I wish my drama teacher looked like him! ;)

    His intelligence is such a turn on. I love how he is able to talk about himself and there is not one hint of arrogance, or cockiness about him. This man can give a really good interview. I can think of too many actors and actresses in HW who could take some lessons on humility from this man.

    IMHO, he deserves to be where he is, and whatever opportunities he has ahead of him.

  16. K-MAC says:

    man he is gorgeous and I just love how open and funny he is!!!!

  17. hstl1 says:

    @FEDUP – I have seen Kissing Jessica Stein and I didn’t like the movie. I guess I just don’t see what everyone else sees. Different strokes!

  18. Crash says:

    I simply do not understand all these “he’s soooo dreamy” posts. Not attractive AT ALL to me. I don’t get it. Huge nose, thin lips, ginchy smile…nope. don’t see it.

  19. Fluffy Kitten Tail says:

    Yes, I love Hamm, but I do not get the love for the Jessica Stein movie. I thought it kind of sucked, but that is just me. I also hated The English Patient, so there you have it. I have different tastes in movies than most.

  20. Teresa says:

    He is so sexy in SO many ways. First of all his looks are to die for. Then, he’s intelligent, very funny, self-deprecating, devoted to his lady. Darn it – it’s not fair that she should have him all to herself. What a charming man, not affected by his stardom as so many of the H-wood crowd are.
    Someone gets the gay vibe from him? Are you crazy or perhaps smoking those funny cigarettes? He’s about as far from gay as you can get. In fact, Ted Casablanca (big time H-wood gossip columnist) regularly cites Jon Hamm as one of the few H-wood stars who is NOT gay! Ted C. also notes how down-to-earth and genuinely nice Mr. Hamm is.

    Sigh!!! They don’t make men like this anymore.

  21. pebbles says:

    Goodness, the story about losing both parents at such crucial stages of development……he must have developed such emotional strength. Makes me love him all the more…..

  22. Karen says:

    @Zeit @Marjalane – I’m glad you ladies don’t care much for him because it means less bitches that I need to shank before I wind up in his arms (and prison).

    I loved Kissing Jessica Stein but I wish I could remember him in the movie. Either way, I could not imagine it was possible to love The Hamm more…yet I still do.

  23. Chris says:

    “This is what happens when a real man becomes a star. There’s no ego, no image consulting, no playing the media. Just humility, humor and honesty.”

    True. The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made. :)

  24. Camille says:

    God he is so over rated. He doesn’t do it for me at all.
    Its the Clooney Syndrome all over again with this guy.

    Thank goodness there are others out there that feel the same way I do lol.

  25. Diva says:

    He’s handsome enough, very manly looking, but he doesn’t do “it” for me, either… he’s really very charming and funny, though, which makes him attractive and fun to watch. I, too, like to see good guys succeed!

  26. lala in nYc says:

    I absolutely love this man.

    Jennifer is a smart woman. She saw his potential for greatness long before Hollywood figured it out. I can’t believe he had to work on porn though and struggled for so long. I want to give him a hug.

  27. Daniella says:

    Him and Jennifer are adorable together. They both work all the time!

  28. Shawna says:

    That post was a classic bait and switch! For a moment there, I believed that God loved us….

  29. Chris says:

    Jon Hamm is the 2010 version of Ken Olin circa 87.

  30. Confuzzle says:

    Kissing Jessica Stein is a glorious movie, I love it muchly. I want Jennifer to do more stuff, she is just fabulous.

    And for those who can’t remember him in KJS ( I couldn’t either) this is what he looked like then

    http://jezebel.com/5323698/kissing-jessica-steins-jennifer-westfeldt-talks-about-theater-jon-hamm

    Now I remember his character!

  31. Bina says:

    Kaiser, let’s form a club and call ourselves “Hamm-Heads” :) Nice interview. Thanks for posting.

  32. BamaGuy says:

    OMG I love Jon Hamm so much! I love Mad Men primarily because of two things: the superb scripts and his incredible performances week after week. He is like the handsomest most sexually arousing man to me; can’t get enough of him!

  33. melina says:

    I’ve never seen him in anything so I guess this is the reason I don’t get his appeal. Maybe after I catch The Town, I’ll also be drooling! I didn’t see anything special in Alex Skarsgard before I got hooked in True Blood and now I practically worship the guy.
    I like that Jennifer chick. I’ve no idea if she’s talented at all but I find it refreshing that she doesn’t look smug for being with such an in demand man and from what I hear she doesn’t seek fame because of this relationship.
    I also like him because after he got so famous, he didn’t just dump her for a younger, classically prettier face.

  34. BamaGuy says:

    The photo of him winking above is like a visual drug, Jon Hamm is real Eye Candy, just looking at him does something real NICE… mmmmmmmmMMM!

  35. tekla says:

    omg, he is the best! I want to bone him and then talk all night :]

  36. theresa says:

    I am so damn disapointed! When I saw the words “in porn”, I assumed that he was IN FRONT of the camera. Set dresser? Yes, the commercial films use them, but the fact that he was one certainly doesn’t help me. Sads.

  37. Chris says:

    Lisa Kudrow with cheek implants :) Ha ha

  38. stylefile says:

    I just hope he stays a good guy, you know? :j