Celebrity interview: Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm.
Jon Hamm.
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Instead of ‘Darling’ and a theatrical air kiss, you get ‘Howdy’ with a firm handshake and a smile when you meet John Hamm.

‘Making an entrance’ also means turning up five minutes early.

Perhaps this agreeable attitude comes from the 43-year-old only finding real recognition later in life, when he started playing the enigmatic, womanising and “dismal” Don Draper in the glossy drama Mad Men in 2007.

He still could have let the success of the show, which is coming to a close next year, inflate his ego, but Hamm is at pains to point out the series isn’t actually that popular.

“Honestly, not a lot of people watch the show,” he explains with an apologetic smile.

“They may have heard of Mad Men but they may not have watched it, or they’ve begun binge-watching it later on, so it’s only recently the attention has been noticeable.”

Taking advantage of this new recognition, the American actor is keen to “set an example professionally” by being a good leader, putting the right attitude out there and turning up on time. “That’s a no-brainer,” he laughs. “Yet you’d be surprised at how many people can’t quite master it.”

This approach was very much in evidence on the set of Million Dollar Arm.

Based on a real story, Hamm plays fading sports agent JB Bernstein who creates a televised competition to find two unknown Indian athletes, ideally cricketers, who he can train up as baseball players, believing that cricket and baseball share a similar motion and DNA. In choosing India, JB hopes to tap into a lucrative new market, but along the way, realises some home truths about his own life.

“The more I read and found out about this story, the more impossible it seemed, and the more inspiring,” says sports fan Hamm.

That the two athletes, Rinku and Dinesh (played by Life of Pi’s Suraj Sharma and Slumdog Millionaire’s Madhur Mittal) were “willing to go the extra mile in a country where very often your life is set before you” moved Hamm. Born in St Louis, the actor did his own version of going the extra mile by upping sticks for Hollywood in his 20s, to try and land that all-important breakthrough role.

Then along came Mad Men, and that changed everything.

Understandably, parting with the show that made his name comes with mixed emotions.

“You can always wear a nice suit, and I’ve got several, but playing Don I will miss,” says Hamm.

“It was eight years of my life and it’s eight great years. I’ve made some incredibly deep and lasting friendships over those years, and those people aren’t going away.”

The Go! Team

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