He wrapped Mad Men in July 2014, but Jon Hamm is still coming to terms with saying goodbye to the role, and the character (chain-smoking, adulterous, self-loathing Don Draper) he brought to life day after day since 2007. “Look, the one constant thing I’ve had in my career is now removed,” the 44-year-old tells GQ. “And that’s an eye-opener: Are people still going to take me seriously? Am I just going to do romantic comedies for the rest of my life? What’s next? And I don’t know, you know? I wish I was smug enough to have had a grand plan.”
Going into the show’s final episodes, Hamm’s indecision about the future weighs heavily. As does the fact that he’ll likely never personify a character like Draper again — at least not physically. “You button up into one of those suits and it’s like, ‘Okay, there’s a certain way that I feel. I feel confident. I feel put together. I feel great-looking.’ You get the whole gear going and you’re like, ‘All right.'”
Following Draper’s trajectory of highs and lows along with Mad Men viewers, Hamm spent seven seasons hoping for his character’s redemption — and likens his role to “the greatest obstacle course in the world.” Still, Hamm doesn’t see the role as grueling, 12-hour days notwithstanding. “Whenever people want to talk about how hard it is to be an actor, I want to go, ‘Um, it’s hard to be a baby-heart surgeon,'” he tells GQ. “Being an actor is actually pretty easy, if you can memorize lines.”
While Hamm ponders his next career move, longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt is sympathetic to the toll Draper has taken on Hamm. “It’s a confusing juxtaposition,” Westfeldt tells GQ. “I think the darkness of Don has weighed heavily on Jon, despite it being the role of a lifetime and the opportunity that gave him the career of his dreams.”
For his part, Hamm — like many viewers — still wants a way to justify Draper’s behavior. “I’m the guy who lives with the guy every day, and I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no, no,’ ” Hamm admits of those wanting to fix Draper. “But I also get the thing in popular culture, American culture, where you see a broken thing and go, ‘I want to fix that. I want to shape that. I want to cure that.'”
Mad Men‘s final season begins April 5 on AMC.
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