Mad about town - Jon Hamm interview
Mad Men's Don Draper stars in Ben Affleck's Town
Mad Men’s Jon Hamm tells Kaleem Aftab about his new film with Ben Affleck, researching in Boston and the future of Don Draper
Jon Hamm says that there is only one downside to playing TV’s best known advertising executive, Don Draper, on Mad Men. ‘Part of the fun of being an actor is that you get to do different things, and that’s the one downside of working in television – that you are playing the same role over and over again. While it’s fun and I have a wonderful time on the show, it’s good to be given the chance to try different things.’
So Hamm didn’t have to think twice when actor-turned-director Ben Affleck asked the St Louis born star to play an FBI agent in his crime thriller The Town. Whereas Don Draper loves to operate in the grey areas of life, his character in The Town is a stand-up guy. He says: ‘They have a serious job that’s often dangerous and they take it seriously and they’re clearly defined in what they do and that’s where I started from. This is a guy who is good as his job, likes his job, takes his job very seriously.’
To research the role he familiarised himself with the work of Boston’s finest. ‘I spent a lot of time with the guys in the violent crimes and robberies task force in Boston, which is a combination of federal state and local law enforcement. I had a chance to see what they do day-to-day and the vast amount of info that they process and work with to try to solve these crimes and catch these bad guys.’
The 39-year-old sees similarities between Mad Men and The Town. ‘The story is not dissimilar to the way some people perceive Draper. He’s not necessarily the most likeable guy, but audiences find themselves rooting for him or willing him on to find some measure of redemption, and I think that’s the story Ben’s trying to tell here. How much are we defined by our past and our upbringing and by our connections? And is it possible to change and break free of those traditions and those relationships that somehow drag you down?”
Hamm is still waiting for confirmation that Mad Men will return for a fifth series, although the way he talks about it, the signs are good. ‘We’ve not officially picked up a fifth season, I don’t know if we have a start date, we usually go back late spring and shoot in the summer.’ He says he imagines it will carry on for some time: ‘We’ve shot four seasons now and there’s still a lot of deep dramatic stories to be mined from that character. I’m glad it’s someone else’s job to think them up, but I’ll keep doing it as long as they’ll have me.’
Hamm’s been dating actress Jennifer Westfeldt for over a decade and says that their busy schedules mean they have to work hard to keep the relationship going. ‘I’m working on things and so is she,’ he says. ‘So you want to carve out time for living your life as well, and we’ve been very diligent and lucky.’ For Hamm, with his openness to tackling new characters, this diligence is clearly something he applies to his career as well.
The Town, general release, Fri 24 Sep. See review.