Jonathan Daniel Hamm
March 10, 1971
|Alma mater||University of Missouri|
Jonathan Daniel Hamm (born March 10, 1971) is an American actor. He came to prominence for his role as Don Draper in the period drama television series Mad Men (2007–2015), for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama in 2008 and 2016, and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2015. He received 16 Primetime Emmy Award nominations for acting in and producing Mad Men. He also directed two episodes of the show. He has appeared in the Sky Arts series A Young Doctor's Notebook, and guest-starred in the Channel 4 dystopian anthology series Black Mirror and the Amazon Prime fantasy series Good Omens. He made guest appearances in the sitcoms 30 Rock, Toast of London, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Parks and Recreation, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and in the Netflix comedy feature Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.
Hamm's film appearances began with the science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), and the lead role in the 2010 independent thriller Stolen. He continued taking leading roles in Million Dollar Arm (2014), Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016), and Beirut (2018), and supporting roles in The Town (2010), Sucker Punch (2011), Bridesmaids (2011), Baby Driver (2017), Tag (2018), Bad Times at the El Royale (2018), The Report (2019), Richard Jewell (2018), and Top Gun: Maverick (2022). He has also voiced characters in the animated films Shrek Forever After (2010) and Minions (2015), and in the second season of the FX series Legion (2018).
Hamm was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Deborah (née Garner) Hamm, a secretary, and Daniel Hamm, who managed a family trucking company. He is of German, English and Irish descent; his surname came from German immigrants.
His parents divorced when he was two years old, and he lived in the St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur with his mother until her death from colon cancer when he was ten. He then lived with his father and grandmother in Normandy, Missouri.
His first acting role was as Winnie-the-Pooh in first grade. At 16, he was cast as Judas in the play Godspell and enjoyed the experience, though he did not take acting seriously. He attended John Burroughs School, a private school in Ladue, where he was a member of the football, baseball, and swim teams. During this time he dated Sarah Clarke, who became an actress. His father died when he was 20.
After graduation in 1989, Hamm enrolled at the University of Texas. He was a member of the Upsilon chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity, and was arrested for participating in a violent hazing incident during his third year.
He later transferred to the University of Missouri. He answered an advertisement from a theater company seeking players for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and was cast in the production. Other roles followed, such as Leon Czolgosz in Assassins.
While a member of Sigma Nu fraternity at the University of Texas, Hamm was arrested for participating in a violent hazing incident in November 1990. He lit a pledge's jeans on fire, shoved his face in the dirt, and struck him with a paddle over his right kidney, before leading the pledge around the fraternity house with a hammer claw around the pledge's testicles. The incident resulted in the fraternity being shut down on campus. The pledge ended up needing medical care, and ultimately withdrew from school. Hamm made a plea deal and completed probation under the terms of a deferred adjudication, allowing him to avoid being convicted of a crime. The charges were dismissed in August 1995 following the completion of his probation.
After graduating in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Hamm returned to his high school to teach eighth-grade acting. One of his students was Ellie Kemper, who became an actress. Years later, Hamm appeared in Kemper's Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
I came in the Dawson's Creek era; it was all about tiny guys who looked like teenagers, and I haven't looked like a teenager ever. So I was, like, auditioning to be their dads. At 25.— Hamm, on not finding work as a young actor
Not wishing to stay in a "normal career," Hamm relocated to Los Angeles permanently in 1995. He moved into a house with four other aspiring actors and began working as a waiter while attending auditions. He acted in theater, including as Flavius in a production of Shakespeare's Timon of Athens with the Sacred Fools Theater Company.
Looking older than his age, he found it difficult to find work as an actor, despite representation by the William Morris Agency. In 1998, after he failed to get any acting work for three years, William Morris dropped him as a client.
He continued working as a waiter and, briefly, worked as a set designer for a softcore pornography movie. He decided that his 30th birthday would be his deadline to succeed in Hollywood, and has said:
You either suck that up and find another agent, or you go home and say you gave it a shot, but that's the end of that. The last thing I wanted to be out here was one of those actors who's 45 years old, with a tenuous grasp of their own reality, and not really working much. So I gave myself five years. I said, if I can't get it going by the time I'm 30, I'm in the wrong place. And as soon as I said that, it's like I started working right away.
In 2000, Hamm landed the role of romantic firefighter Burt Ridley on NBC's drama series Providence. His one-episode contract grew to 19 and allowed him to quit waiting tables. He made his feature movie debut with one line in Clint Eastwood's adventure film Space Cowboys (2000). More substantial roles followed in the independent comedy Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) and the war film We Were Soldiers (2002), during which he turned 30.
His career was bolstered by his recurring role of police inspector Nate Basso on Lifetime's television series The Division from 2002 to 2004. Other minor roles followed on the television series What About Brian, CSI: Miami, Related, Numb3rs, The Unit, and The Sarah Silverman Program. Hamm's Mad Men castmate Eric Ladin said in an interview that he admired Hamm because he was persistent until he became successful as an actor.
Hamm landed his breakthrough role in 2007, when he was chosen from over 80 candidates to play the protagonist character Don Draper in AMC's drama series Mad Men. In the series, set in a fictional 1960s Madison Avenue ad agency, he played a suave, married, philandering executive with an obscure past. He recalled, "I read the script for Mad Men and I loved it... I never thought they'd cast me—I mean, I thought they'd go with one of the five guys who look like me but are movie stars". He believes that an actor with a "proven track record" would likely have been chosen if another network had produced the show. He went through numerous auditions; each time he explained to the casting directors what he could bring to the character, if given the part. Alan Taylor and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner initially thought he was "too handsome" for the role, but ultimately decided, "it was perfect to cast sort of the perfect male in this part". Weiner also sensed that Hamm had suffered the early loss of his parents, similarly to Draper's backstory. Hamm says that he used memories of his father to portray Draper, a well-dressed, influential man of business and society hiding great inner turmoil and experiencing changes in the world beyond his control.
Mad Men debuted on July 19, 2007, with almost 1.4 million viewers. It developed a loyal audience, with Hamm receiving strong reviews. Robert Bianco of USA Today described Hamm's portrayal of Draper as "a starmaking performance", and The Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert called Hamm a "brilliant lead".
In 2008, Hamm won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama and was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. In 2009, he was again nominated for the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award in the same category, and received another Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. In 2010, he received his third Golden Globe Award nomination. Mad Men concluded its seven-season run on May 17, 2015. Hamm received his first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series on September 20, 2015, after receiving 12 nominations for acting in and producing the series.
Hamm's next film role was in the 2008 science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, a remake of the classic 1951 film of the same name. It received mixed reviews but was financially successful, earning $230 million worldwide. Hamm hosted Saturday Night Live, season 34, episode 6, on October 25, 2008, and played various roles, including Don Draper in two sketches. He returned as host again on January 30 and October 30, 2010. In 2009, he guest-starred in three episodes of the NBC television sitcom 30 Rock as Drew Baird, a doctor who is a neighbor and love interest of Liz Lemon (Tina Fey). For these performances, he received three nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
Hamm's first leading film role came with the independent mystery thriller Stolen in 2009, in which he played a police officer whose son has been missing for eight years. In 2010 he had a minor voice role in the animated feature Shrek Forever After as an ogre leader named Brogan, and appeared as an FBI agent in the crime drama The Town with Ben Affleck. After receiving "about 40 scripts that were all set in the 60s, or had me playing advertising guys", Hamm was pleased that The Town offered him a role that was "the opposite to Don Draper". It received generally favorable reviews and earned $144 million worldwide.
His next acting role was as defense attorney Jake Ehrlich in the independent film Howl, based on Allen Ginsberg's eponymous 1956 poem. On December 12, 2010, he made a guest appearance as an FBI supervisor on Fox's animated series The Simpsons. He was featured in Zack Snyder's action-fantasy film Sucker Punch (2011) as the character High Roller and the doctor. He also had a supporting role in the comedy Bridesmaids as Kristen Wiig's "rude and arrogant sex buddy". He was next seen in the independent feature Friends with Kids (2011), which he produced with his then-partner Jennifer Westfeldt. The story concerns a group of friends whose lives are changed as the couples in the group begin to have children.
He had a recurring role in the sitcom The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret in 2012, as the servant of sociopathic billionaire Dave Mountford (Blake Harrison). He hosted the 21st ESPYS Awards on July 17, 2013. He played sports agent J.B. Bernstein in Disney's sports drama Million Dollar Arm (2014). He appeared with Daniel Radcliffe in A Young Doctor's Notebook, playing an older version of Radcliffe's character, from December 2012 to December 2013. In December 2014, he guest-starred in a special Christmas episode of the British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror, titled "White Christmas". He had a number of roles in 2015, including the comedy show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. He was featured in the animated comedy Minions as the voice of Herb Overkill. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a major success, grossing over $1 billion worldwide.
Hamm featured in the comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses, alongside Zach Galifianakis and Gal Gadot; the film was filmed during the spring of 2015 and was released in October 2016 (after being delayed seven months). He appeared in the science fiction film Marjorie Prime, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Edgar Wright's comedy crime film Baby Driver, which premiered at the 2017 South by Southwest Festival, and the drama Aardvark, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2018, Hamm appeared in the drama Nostalgia and the political thriller Beirut.
Commercials and product endorsements
In 2010, Mercedes-Benz hired Hamm (replacing actor Richard Thomas) as the new voiceover of their commercials, beginning with a commercial for the S400 Hybrid campaign. In 2013, American Airlines debuted a television commercial titled "Change is in the Air", featuring Hamm's voice-over. Hamm is an American Airlines frequent flier and his Mad Men character Don Draper often spoke of aspiring to win such accounts as American Airlines. Hamm has also appeared in several commercials in an ongoing ad campaign for H&R Block income tax services. He also appears in ongoing ads in Canada for SkipTheDishes. In January 2022 he appeared on an Apple TV+ ad titled "Everyone but Jon Hamm" showcasing the streaming service's wide array of A-list actresses and actors participating in original Apple productions.
Internationally considered to be a sex symbol, Hamm was named one of Salon.com's Sexiest Man Living in 2007 and one of People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive in 2008. Entertainment Weekly named him one of their Entertainers of the Year in both 2008 and 2010. Hamm also won GQ's "International Man" award in September 2010.
Hamm is an animal rescue advocate.
Although his role as Don Draper required Hamm to smoke, he quit smoking at age 24. On set he did not smoke actual cigarettes, but rather herbal cigarettes that do not contain tobacco or nicotine.
In March 2015, Hamm's representative confirmed that Hamm had recently completed in-patient treatment for alcoholism. Additionally, Hamm reported developing vitiligo during the filming of Mad Men.
Hamm was in a long-term relationship with actress and screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt from 1997 to 2015. Of their relationship, he said in 2008: "We may not have a piece of paper that says we're husband and wife, but after 10 years, Jennifer is more than just a girlfriend. What we have is much deeper and we both know that. To me, people get married when they're ready to have kids, which I'm not ruling out." Along with Westfeldt, Hamm appeared in Gap-related campaign advertisements. In April 2009, Hamm and Westfeldt formed their own production company, Points West Pictures.
Hamm is a devoted fan of the National Hockey League (NHL) team the St. Louis Blues; he's even appeared in two television advertisements for the team. He is a fan of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team the St. Louis Cardinals and narrated the official highlight movie for the 2011 World Series, won by the Cardinals. Hamm also narrates the Amazon NFL documentary series All or Nothing, as of 2015. In 2012, he played in the MLB Legend and Celebrity All Star Softball game as a member of the National League. He represented the Cardinals and hit a home run during the game. In 2018, he narrated the video The Saint Louis Browns: The Team That Baseball Forgot, presented by the Saint Louis Browns Historical Society.
Awards and nominations
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The celebrities in the Gap campaign include Jon Hamm of Mad Men ... with his girlfriend, the actress Jennifer Westfeldt.
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