LOS ANGELES—“Mad Men” star Jon Hamm talked about his two new film projects in a recent interview.
Looking dapper as usual in a suit, Jon said he has more time off to make films because the TV series “Mad Men” is produced by a cable specialty channel, AMC, and not by the major networks.
“It’s not as hard as it would be if we were running on a network schedule,” said the actor who shot to fame playing advertising executive Don Draper in the drama series set in the 1960s.
He added: “I have seven months off and five months on. So I have a movie that I shot a long time ago. I just did some looping on it. It’s directed by Ari Folman who did ‘Waltz with Bashir.’ He’s adapting a science fiction novel (‘The Futurological Congress’) from the ’50s. It’s a very interesting movie with Robin Wright. That film is still being animated and pieced together. But they hope to have that come out in Cannes next year.”
Aside from Jon and Robin, “The Congress,” which combines live-action and animation, also stars Paul Giamatti and Harvey Keitel. The film is Ari’s follow-up to his acclaimed “Waltz…” which screened in Cannes in 2008.
Jon likewise announced: “I’m also going to start working on a film with Larry David that we’re going to shoot in the East Coast. It will be very improvised and very Larry David-y.”
Jon plays a villain in the HBO feature film written by Larry—the comedy genius behind the TV series “Curb Your Enthusiasm”—who is also in the cast along with Michael Keaton.
Speaking of HBO, Jon disclosed that his girlfriend, actress and screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt, is working on a pilot project for the top cable TV network. “They haven’t cast it,” he said. “That pilot will be produced by our company (Points West Pictures). But we’re not working together on it. She’s writing it and will star in it if, in fact, it goes through.”
Jon said that their production company, which they formed in 2009, “is very active on finding and developing material. Jen is obviously an incredibly diligent, hardworking, multitalented filmmaker. She can write, which I cannot do. It takes me four hours to figure out how to write an e-mail. I can text. That’s pretty much about it. I can’t sit and stare at a blinking cursor for longer than 30 seconds or I have to walk out of the room.”
Asked for his opinion on marriage, Jon, 40, said: “It’s a strange thing that people want to, for some reason, put a relationship into one box or another. Jen and I have been together, going on 15 years now which is longer than most people that I know have been married. It’s as challenging as a marriage is. We share two houses, a dog and bank accounts. We have every other kind of arrangement that a marriage would have.”
At present, he added, they don’t feel the need to get married. “At some point down the line in the future, when we feel it is a necessity that needs to be addressed, we have a lot of great places that we could maybe go [to] do that.”
On his “Mad Men” character’s noted seducing skills, Jon quipped: “That’s probably a better question for Jen. She did a pretty good job of it … Jen has intelligence and wit. Honestly. She’s got that times a million and it’s in a nice package as well.”
The Missouri native claimed that he’s the opposite of Don. “It takes a while for people to realize that I’m not the person that I play on TV,” he stressed.
“But within five seconds of meeting me, people are usually disabused of that notion. I’m awkward, relatively shy and not very much like Don. When you’re put in the category of a sexy guy, you can either play it up and really be that guy or you can play against it. I have chosen to play against it because that’s way closer to really who I am. I’m not this Lothario, this lady-killer. It’s way easier to do that when the words are written not only for you but also for the other person to say back to you. It’s a lot easier to do that.”
He jested, “You don’t get sued as much.”
Told that Matthew Weiner, creator of “Mad Men,” said in an earlier interview that he (Jon) is better at keeping the show’s plot secrets, Jon explained: “Matt’s trouble with keeping secrets is that the easiest way to get him to tell you any secrets at all is simply to ask him. He doesn’t quite get that you have an opportunity to not talk. For his 40th birthday, I bought him a gift packet of business cards that just said, ‘Stop talking.’”
On his knowledge about “Mad Men’s” plot developments, Jon said: “Matt is playing that up a little bit. I don’t know everything. But I probably know more than most. Part of it is, I feel like, why ruin the surprise? Matt says it at every table read because we have 10 or 12 guest stars who come in. He says, ‘Please don’t tell anybody what you’re going to hear today. Because it ruins the surprise.’ And I think Matt is very cagey and knows how to hold an audience as well. It’s harder especially nowadays when everything is instantly available globally.”
But Jon obliged, when requested to give an update on some of the major characters in the show’s current season:
“We do see, from the beginning, that the company has stabilized. It’s not in the precarious position it was in the previous season. And that affects the characters differently.
“For Don, he’s in love. He’s seemingly very happy. He’s not really paying much attention to work. He would much rather be with his wife. You know, lock the door and take her clothes off. Like, why not? His priorities are a little out of whack.
“Whereas you can trust someone like Pete (played by Vincent Kartheiser). He is constantly pressing everybody to work harder and make more for the company.
“Peggy’s (Elisabeth Moss) version of getting more responsibility and having a bigger footprint creatively at the firm is contrasted with her still not having the respect that she deserves. She can’t work on Jaguar. She can’t quite close the Heinz account. She’s in this nebulous place. She’s continually being taken for granted by Don whom she looks up to tremendously. She feels that it’s time to spread her wings.”
E-mail the columnist at [email protected] Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.