Jon Hamm Interview on ‘Mad Men’s Final Season and Saying Goodbye to Don Draper

Jon Hamm Interview on Mad Men's Final Season
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in ‘Mad Men’ (Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3 / AMC)

Jon Hamm and the cast of AMC’s Mad Men joined series creator/writer/director Matthew Weiner at the Television Critics Association’s winter press event in Los Angeles to talk – without giving away any spoilers – about the final season of the critically acclaimed, award-winning series. In addition to taking part in a press conference, Hamm sat down with a few journalists to discuss the end of the series and the memories he’ll take away from being a part of this incredible show.

Mad Men‘s final episodes kick off on Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 10pm ET/PT.

Are you going to be glad when that final episode does air and you don’t have to dodge questions?
Jon Hamm: “There’s no version of this ending that is not super painful for me, and mostly it’s because of [the actors] and [Matthew Weiner] because they’ve been the single constant in my creative life for the last decade. So, that’s kind of tough. And, yeah, I will be happy when the shows air and I won’t have to fake like I don’t know how it ends or make up some ridiculous story about robots or zombies or something. But I will never be able to have this again, and that’s a drag.”

What were your expectations when you took this part and at what point did you realize you were involved in something special?
Jon Hamm: “I certainly in 2006 would not have expected to be sitting here having the experience over the last 10 years or eight, nine years, whatever it is. So there’s no version of it that I can imagine in my mind that would equal what actually happened. And not only creatively and what we got to do and what I got to do in playing this person, but tangentially, this amazing group of people that I got to get to know. It’s become, for better and worse, but mostly better, just a part of my life and a significant part of my life. So there’s not a lot of jobs you can point to, at least in our world that have that impact.”

Do you remember when you came in to read for this series for the very first time?
Jon Hamm: “I certainly do. It was in Santa Monica in February of 2005 or 2006. I had to drive from Los Feliz to Santa Monica in the rain, which anybody who lives in LA knows that it’s a disaster to get to Santa Monica from Los Feliz in the best conditions. [Laughing] It took me about two and a half hours to get there…that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. It was in this weird place and it was literally me and a 17 year old who was in the same place to audition for a commercial. So it was a very strange experience and that was the first audition I had which was only with the casting director. That was the first of seven auditions it took me to get it.”

What can you say about the kind of tone or note the show’s going out on?
Jon Hamm: “Well, I can basically tell you nothing. But what Christina [Hendricks] said was the most salient for me which was it wasn’t so much being surprised, it’s just being pleased. I got misty just watching what they’ve showed because it means so much to me. These people mean so much to me; these characters mean so much to me. So, it was pleasing to have a satisfying ending – and to have an ending. It’s a story, it needs to have an ending. If there’s no end to the story, you never get to go to bed. So, it’s nice to go to bed.”

Is there a quintessential episode or moment that you will take away saying that is Don Draper to you?
Jon Hamm: “I think the pilot. I think it’s all in the pilot. I think the whole foundation of the show is in the pilot, not only for Don, Peggy, Roger, Pete, but for all of the characters – it’s all in the pilot.”

The opening titles are ambiguous but do you see yourself in that silhouette that’s falling?
Jon Hamm: “Well, it’s modeled after me so yes. Yes, it’s my body that’s been animated. Do I see myself Jon Hamm? No, it’s Don Draper. It’s a recollection of the character. That said, our story over the last 10 years has been about not just Don Draper; it’s been certainly about all of the people on stage [at the TCAs], not insignificantly also our fearless leader, Matthew Weiner. So, he’s the one at the end of the day who writes that. It’s an incredibly evocative 30 seconds or 90 seconds, whatever it is, that starts the show. Hopefully we live up to it.”

What will you miss most?
Jon Hamm: “All of it. There’s no one thing.”

Did you take anything from the set as a souvenir?
Jon Hamm: “I did not. I took nothing from the set. Memories, they were delightful. Most of it was rented so if I would have taken it, I would have been literally stealing.”

How are you handling your career post-Mad Men?
Jon Hamm: “Bryan [Cranston’s] done a really wonderful job of it as have others that I’ve fortunately gotten to know. Bryan is obviously a wonderful actor and a wonderful guy as well, and he’s done what I think we can all take a lesson from and I watched Jimmy Gandolfini do it as well, god bless him, which is move on from the character. Everybody wants to identify you as that particular character but as actors if you just bang on the same piano key over and over again it gets boring. Not only for yourself, but I think for the audience, and both of those gentlemen we very intelligent to do different things. I think that’s what I’m trying to take away from it is to get to work with different people and do different things, and fortunately have the opportunity to do so.”

– By Fred Topel

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