Jon Hamm has inhabited Don Draper for seven seasons. Now, he gives his take on the Final Episodes, including what has — and hasn’t — changed since he first took on the role.
Q: What do you think Don has learned about women and relationships over the course of the series?
A: That maybe he’s not very good at them. I hope he’s learned that, because that seems to be what everyone else has learned. Don is searching for something and has been for a long, long time. I don’t think he knows what he’s searching for, I just think he knows he’s searching for something… and I think people can resonate with that feeling of being dissatisfied and wondering what’s at the root of it. I think that’s why we have a billion-dollar-a-year psychotherapy business — figuring out what it is that’s getting them through the day.
Q: Do you enjoy playing a character who’s unraveling?
A: Looking back, even to the first season, there was a lot of Don that we knew was not okay. That’s in the pilot. He has this whole day and he goes through this incredible journey to his wife and kids and then you realize, Oh, that’s part of it too… In many ways, the course of the show has been stripping away of all of this stuff until there’s just this core left. What does that signify? Who is that person?
Q: Were you curious about the resolution of any other character’s story?
A: No. There was this idea going around that I knew everything because Matthew Weiner told me the whole thing. He didn’t tell me everything. He just told me kind of how he saw the series ending and kind of where I fit in it… I just had images and thoughts and ideas and I thought, “That sounds pretty good,” so I was as excited as anyone to see how’s it actually going to go.
Q: You’ve said before that you hope Don ends up in a good place. Do you still feel that way?
A: I’ve been very close to this character for a long time, clearly, and playing someone that’s in a crisis or in a downward spiral for as many years as I’ve been doing that naturally engenders a hope that there’s a redemption or a bounce-back in some way. Part of it is the hope that it’s all worth something. Bad stuff goes on to a point for a reason, and you learn from it, you grow from it… All of this bad stuff that happens in our lives ideally wiggles us into a better place, hopefully.
Q: It makes you wonder whether, if Don went through all of this today, if he’d just gone on antidepressants…
A: In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s they were experimenting with psychotropic drugs, and all of those were just in their infancy… But there was also that very blue-collar, very American thing of just, “Tough s–t, deal with it, suck it up.” And to a certain extent that works, but Don is a guy who I think might need a little more help than that. And in a modern era, he would have been fired immediately for the s–t he did at work. HR would have a thick file on Don Draper. You just can’t get away with that and keep your job — I don’t care if you own the company.
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