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Emmy Watch: Mad Men’s Jon Hamm Feels Comedy vs. Drama Divide

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood June 21, 2011 at 8:15AM

Two-thirds of Jon Hamm’s work time is spent starring as the irresistibly imperfect Don Draper in AMC’s Mad Men. “I do that eight months out of the year,” he told TVLine. “You don’t want to keep banging on the same piano key because after a while that just gets to be boring.”
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Thompson on Hollywood

Two-thirds of Jon Hamm’s work time is spent starring as the irresistibly imperfect Don Draper in AMC’s Mad Men. “I do that eight months out of the year,” he told TVLine. “You don’t want to keep banging on the same piano key because after a while that just gets to be boring.”

An admitted "comedy nerd," Hamm said that his two-day stint filming for Bridesmaids was a welcome break during the emotionally grueling fourth season of Mad Men. “It was already a hard season for me emotionally with all the stuff my character had gone through to that point, so it was a little bit like, ‘Jesus, when is this going to end?’” Thus the unwavering demands of the show seem to be pushing Hamm to seek an outlet in complete farce.

While enjoying the success of his breakout television role, Hamm has not allowed himself to get pigeonholed. Nominated for three Emmys for Mad Men, he was also nominated for two more for his comedic guest role on 30 Rock. He doesn’t straddle the line between deeply dramatic and lighthearted comedy—he visits both poles.

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While his comedic roles take the opposite tone to his dramatic roles, he plays similar characters. In his guest role on 30 Rock, for example, he's a caricature of a beautiful person, oblivious to the fact that he gets special treatment because of his uncanny good looks. This is the antithesis of the confidence that Don Draper exudes; he demands attention because of his exceptional looks, creative smarts, and je ne sais quoi.

Hamm makes fun of his sex appeal and his stoic role as a steely misogynist in Mad Men—both directly in Saturday Night Live’s Don Draper’s Guide to Picking Up Women and less directly in his role as an insufferable playboy in Bridesmaids.

While Hamm hopes to continue chasing comedy, it’s mostly a fun, part-time break from dramatic roles, he said. When he first arrived in L.A., “most of the people I hung out with were in the comedy world," from close friend Paul Rudd to the likes of Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Paul Tompkins, and Zach Galifianakis: “So to get the opportunity to work with those guys on my off hours, it’s nice."


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.