Jon Hamm struggeled with depression after losing his parents at a young age.

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Jon Hamm is one of the sexiest leading men in Hollywood right now. He plays the sexy ad-man Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men.

He landed the Golden Globe-winning role when he was cast to play the lead character. But he admits, he was not their first choice. “I was on the bottom of everyone’s list.” He had read the script and fallen in love with the part: did he know Don would eventually be his? “I really really really wanted to do it and really really really responded to the character. And really really felt like I had a handle on it and fit the part well, for whatever reason. I knew it was an enormous risk for the network to put all their chips on… certainly no celebrity of any kind. No name to promote.”

Does Hamm understand Draper? “Well, I’m an actor. A big part of acting is subverting who you are in the service of a character. So I understand that. And the similarities between mine and Don’s life are well documented. Growing up as a bit of a wanderer, finding my own way, making my own story… Losing my parents early on, albeit not as dramatically and tragically as Don.”

When Jon Hamm was 10 years old his mother died, suddenly, of stomach cancer. Hamm went to live with his father, who had divorced his mother when he was two. “To lose a parent at 10 – which is young, though not unprecedented – it means you understand, at a very early age, what permanence is.”

And then, 10 years later, when Hamm was studying English at the University of Texas, his father died. “I was… unmoored by that. But I was very fortunate to have really good friends in my life whose parents sort of rallied: ‘We’re gonna help this kid out, because otherwise there’s going to be trouble…'”

“I struggled with chronic depression. I was in bad shape. I knew I had to get back in school and back in some kind of structured environment and… continue.”

What helped? “Work.”

Therapy? “I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, your own bullshit. It helps. And honestly? Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: ‘I want to get up in the morning; I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go do my shit and go to work and…’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!”

Hamm also talks about how he makes his relationship work with longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt. After dating for twelve years, how do they still make it work? “We just… really love each other.”


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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 at 8:08am
Filed under AMC, Jon Hamm, Mad Men | No Comments


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