Jon Hamm Was Like a Puppy on the First Day of Mad Men

by | March 26, 2015 | Comments

Jon Hamm sat down with Rotten Tomatoes and other journalists at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel on Wednesday to discuss his experience starring on Mad Men as Don Draper for seven seasons.

Hamm, 44, recalled his beginnings as a struggling actor in Los Angeles a decade before Mad Men‘s existence.

“This will be 20 years that I’ve been in Los Angeles; I got here in 1995,” Hamm said. “If you would have told me 20 years ago, when I drove down the 5 [freeway] in my 1986 Toyota Corolla that was overheating so I had to literally turn on the heat and put it in neutral and coast down the Tahone Pass… that in 20 years, I would be sitting here talking about this, I would’ve been over the moon.”

While it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Hamm filling the suit of Don Draper, Hamm wasn’t so sure that would get the gig when the opportunity came up 10 years ago.

“I had to audition seven to eight times,” Hamm said, explaining a long period of maybes during the casting process. “Every stage of that, if you have one sh—y audition, they go, ‘never mind.’ You have five good ones and one bad one, they go, ‘bye-bye,’… I was able to wiggle my way through that somehow and get the job.”

That first day of shooting Mad Men was especially exciting for Hamm, finally getting his first big Hollywood break. “Have you ever seen a puppy when somebody rings a doorbell, and they kind of wag all of their bodies and they pee on the floor?” Hamm asked. “There’s such a mixture of excitement and terror and awe and wonder and hope and fear, all going on at once. I’ve never been that much of a tail-wagger, so to speak, but I was vibrating on the first day of school.”

Hamm explained that it took a few seasons to feel at ease with his leading-man role. “Around about season four or five was when that first-day-of-school feeling started to go away. I at least felt like a senior. I didn’t feel like a freshman going, ‘Does anyone want to sit with me at lunch? Where’s homeroom?'”

Mad Men‘s final episodes, known as season 7B, begin on AMC on Sunday, Apr. 5 at 10 pm. Will you be watching?