Jon Hamm Recalls "Soul-Crushing" Job Working on "Soft-Core-Porn Movies"

Celebrity News May. 6, 2014 AT 1:05PM
Jon Hamm Vanity Fair
Jon Hamm opened up to Vanity Fair about his job working on "soft-core-porn" sets-- plus, get the scoop on his Trivial Pursuit face-off with Paul Rudd Credit: Sam Jones exclusively for Vanity Fair

It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Jon Hamm may be a handsome leading man now, but back in the 1990s, he was just another struggling actor working whatever gigs happened to come his way. Speaking about his pre-Mad Men life in an interview for the new issue of Vanity Fair, Hamm addressed the recently resurfaced video of his 1996 stint on The Big Date, revealing that the show came at a low point for him, career-wise.

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"I was actually at that time working as a set dresser for Cinemax soft-core-porn movies," the Million Dollar Arm star, 43, recalled. "It was soul-crushing."

Having come from such, ahem, humble beginnings, Hamm knows what a rare gift he has in his role on Matthew Weiner's AMC drama. "This is the best job I've ever had and maybe ever will have in my life—it's so fun to play all of this," he told Vanity Fair of portraying Don Draper.

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"It can be relentlessly dark. It can be terribly sexually inappropriate, is a way to say it," he acknowledged. "But who else gets a chance to do any of that stuff? There's so much there."

Hamm's Vanity Fair cover story also delves into a previously unheard-of encounter with Paul Rudd, the college roommate of his high school friend Preston Clarke. Hamm had taken Clarke's sister, actress Sarah Clarke, to her high school prom, but she later hit it off with Rudd, who then came to Hamm's hometown of St. Louis, Mo., to spend time with her.

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"I thought he was coming to visit me, but obviously he was coming to visit my sister," Clarke told VF. "Hamm was there because he was always at my house. And Paul knew that Jon had taken Sarah to prom. He was slightly intimidated. And then we started playing Trivial Pursuit."

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Rudd recalled feeling inferior to the then-future Mad Men star. "He seemed like he was a good-looking, athletic guy who possessed qualities I did not possess," the This Is 40 actor said. "We were playing Trivial Pursuit in teams. Sarah and I were on one team, and Jon and Preston were on the other team. Jon would want to go right to Yellow, which was History, and I was like, 'Oh great, this guy is smart, too.'"

He continued: "They would ask a question like, 'What is the largest lake in Africa?' and Jon immediately went, 'Lake Victoria.' I felt so emasculated in the game that, as a result, I started reading atlases."

The June issue of Vanity Fair is on stands on May 8.

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