Jon Hamm talks about his passion for reading... and for the Spanish National Soccer team.
Jon Hamm is one of the most interesting actors in Hollywood and kindly he talked to us about his passion for reading, his admiration for the Spanish national soccer team and, of course, the new season of Mad Men.Thanks to the seductive fictional character Don Draper, the actor Jon Hamm has become a fixture in the new era of television. In Los Angeles we had the luck to interview him.
Q: I heard you are a big reader.
A: Yes. I like to read. I know that reading isn't as easy to do as turning on a television or getting on the Internet or twittering or whatever else you have to do in this modern society, but it's way more rewarding.
Q: Did you ever read any Spanish author?
A:I bet you if I say yes I have to give you a name right after so I’m going to think what I read first. Yes as a matter of fact I read Shadow of the Wind from Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I loved it. But let me tell you that from Spain I’m really impressed with your soccer national team. I’m a big follower and love the way they played. Congratulations.
Q: The new season of Mad Men is coming to TV. It is true that you always believed in what the writers are doing with the show? Are you a big supporter of the writers
A: I made the decision very early on, knowing sort of the entirety of Don’s back story when we were shooting the pilot that Matt had a very firm grasp on not only who the character was but a. how to tell a story and b. where the story was going. And living with a very talented and opinionated actress and filmmaker, I understand that it’s way better when there is one person telling a story rather than a committee. So I decided that I would, in a word, trust him and I think that trust has been born out. There have been several times when I have opened the script, and gone, okay, what are we doing, where are we going with this? But again as an actor, just trusting the person who is creating the show is you know, it’s a lesson and it’s a lesson that I think a lot of people can learn. Like it’s trust the guy, if you want to be in business with him, trust him, let him do his job and conversely let me do my job and hopefully we will all get along and hold hands and sing songs.
Q: Don is not younger and at the same time you are not younger either, is this a more intimate portrait of the character that he is alone, and he is going to just think, okay, I am alone for real? And is it more intimate this season?
A: I think a big part of what we look at this season is mortality, and I don’t know how many of you have seen the first episode, I am assuming none. A big part of it is mortality, I mean obviously Don is not getting younger and he is continually surrounded by youth and the culture of youth and the increasing importance of the culture of youth and what does that say about someone who is not young, whose relevance in life – and I have used this phrase before to describe him but it’s almost like the aging lion, you know, the lion who used to rule the pride and now he is sort of decreasing in relevance. It’s a by turns fascinating hopefully and sad kind of revelation, especially when it’s counter pointed with a character like Peggy or a character like Pete, rising, or even a character like Joan finding her way and what’s her, you know, day to day relevance. These are all things that we explore in the season and I think that there are characters that we have carefully kind of grown and manicured so we can see what happens this season without being too precious about. I hope I am not sounding like that guy but it’s still a fun show, I think.
Q: Death has been looming over the show for some time and you know, last season Lane committed suicide and there have been rumors that Pete might do the same.
A: I think part of what makes it fun for us as people who work on the show and actors honestly is reading a lot of the speculation. What it really means is that people are invested in the show enough to write a three-paragraph blog post on what they think everything means. Just the new key art this year – I’ve been reading things online, people breaking down why is there a plane, and why is there a this and why is there a that. Great! That means that people are interested and that means that people ideally will watch or it means that we are doing our jobs, honestly, creating something that people want to take the time to investigate, you know. Obviously with Lane’s untimely departure last season and the imagery we have at the top of every show, that creates a mood and we have been fairly consistent with that mood, hopefully not to the detriment of the show’s humor, which I think there is a lot of and the show’s honest emotional resonance but, you know. The image in the beginning is of course Don, but that’s not necessarily – it’s also a fantasy and it’s also taking place in his head. It’s not a literal depiction of somebody falling out of the window because that doesn’t end on a couch. It ends in a puddle. So I think that, you know, these are people that have problems in their lives and they deal with them as best as they can. Lane found himself in an unfortunate situation that he dealt with as best he could or at least as best he thought he could which was sad and terrible and tragic. Let’s hope there is no more of that.
Q: : Do you see Don as someone who likes himself and how have you seen this evolve?
A: I think Don likes himself sometimes. But I think everybody likes themselves sometimes. I really don’t know anybody that walks through the world 100% of the time thinking I am amazing. I think those people are crazy, or delusional in some way obviously. Even Donald Trump I think probably doesn’t like himself 100% of the time. But I think that’s a part of Don’s constant struggle is not only behaving in a way that is likeable to himself and the people that he is surrounded by but also choosing the path that becomes satisfactory to himself and keeping himself happy. And I think that the central irony of the show is that we have a person who is at foundation fundamentally bifurcated. He is two people: Dick Whitman and Don Draper. Which one of those people will win, is there a struggle, is there someone that is going to win, does somebody need to win? Hopefully all of those questions will be answered by the end of not this season but the next.
Q: Are you ready for Mad Men, the movie, and how can you imagine Don Draper on the big screen, like an existential hero like Matthew thinks he is, or more kind of a James Bond type of guy?
A: If they ever make Mad Men the movie, I hope they at least cast me in some part. They will probably cast somebody way more famous than me. I don’t know honestly, I don’t think – I think the reason there have been very few television shows that have been successful films is that they are completely different ways to tell a story. I think we have been very fortunate to be on television when we have been on. I was saying this in an interview previously but I think it’s interesting because our show’s success is because we are in this unique or particular television landscape where you don’t need 17 million people a week to be successful. You can have a significantly smaller number and yet still maintain the money that it takes to keep you on the air. Had our show been around 15 years ago or 20 years ago, it would have never been possible. It doesn’t appeal to enough people. There were too many channels. But had our show come on the air 60 years ago I think it would have been successful. I have been watching a lot of old Twilight Zone recently and there are these incredibly dense, interesting, unique stories that were on prime time and were watched by millions of people and there is no way that show gets on the air now, but it was a huge success back then, and it was intellectual and interesting and it was fun, I think for a lot of people. So I think that’s kind of why there probably won’t be aMad Men movie because I think it’s hard to condense the world that we have into such a small package and make it appealing to the number of people that it needs to appeal to. There is a reason that we are going to watch Transformers movies until we all die because there are endless iterations of that for 2-1/2 hours that can crash into each other and entertain people. It’s just impossible to do it with our – and maintain the truth of our story. We can turn Don Draper into James Bond and make him a spy and run around and kiss pretty girls and rappel down windows but that’s not Mad Men, that’s James Bond. They have similar hair but that’s about it.
Q: : Every woman in Don’s life is not happy but he still is the man that every woman wants to be with, and it seems like it’s not in his nature to be happy and satisfied too, but every man wants to be like him. So what’s his secret? He is not a happy man but –?
A: I am mystified by it. I am just as mystified as you are. I find it fascinating and I don’t know the answer to it. I have been asked this question in tens of interviews why people find this guy to be any kind of role model or thing to look up to other than the fact that he looks good in a suit, which is something I guess but, you know, you are right to say that the women very often in his life are confounded or confused or disappointed and that he himself is very confounded, confused, and disappointed. I don’t know, I think there is something fundamentally in Don Draper that people can identify with, which is being maybe dissatisfied or seeking something or striving for something. I think we all have a little bit of that in us, and I do think he is handsome and he has a nice turn of phrase and he tends to get the girl and he tends to win the day, so there is that. It’s justlike throwing up and passing out and getting beaten up and rolling cars and all that stuff that’s maybe less admirable in his character. Not to mention cheating on his wife multiple times, multiple lives, multiple – that part is less admirable but let’s accentuate the positive, he looks good in a suit.
(c) America Reads Spanish