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Jon Hamm on Stolen and Playing a Single Don Draper: ‘He Has a Monkey Off His Back’

Back before Mad Men was the ratings hit it is today, and Hamm and Buble was still but a far-off dream, Jon Hamm shot a little film called Stolen. The movie is Hamm’s first non-television role as a leading man, and it sat on the market for a couple of years before IFC picked it up for on-demand services and a limited theatrical release. In it, Hamm plays a cop still reeling from the disappearance of his son eight years earlier. Vulture recently spoke with Hamm about the new season of Mad Men, hosting Saturday Night Live, and playing a Jamaican nurse on 30 Rock.

You shot Stolen between the first and second seasons of Mad Men. Was there a part of you thinking, 'I’d better line up some movies in case this whole Mad Men thing doesn’t work out'?
Not at all, really. We had just finished the first season and I was unemployed, so I was like, “Now what?” I liked the script, and it was first-time filmmakers. I liked the sort of dual story line format of the script. I thought it was an interesting way to tell the story, so I signed on.

Your character becomes obsessed with his son’s disappearance. How did you identify with that?
I don’t have children, but obviously there is that thing in your life where if you lose something close to you in a sudden way, there is an obsession that would come with trying to get that back, especially if it’s unresolved. I lost my mother very early in my life, and it was very clear she wasn’t coming back. But if there is a question mark at all hanging over the disappearance or in the loss of someone that you care about, then that would engender an intense obsession with erasing that question mark.

The guy who plays the construction foreman in Stolen is Ryan Cutrona, who plays Mad Men's Grandpa Gene.
That was a very happy accident. Ryan’s a wonderful actor. It’s one of those things where everybody’s hustling for a job and Ryan’s no different from all of us.

What’s the status of Mad Men's fourth season? When do you start shooting?
We start filming in April, and I have no idea what’s gonna happen. I’ve spoken to Matt [Weiner] briefly about some stuff, but he’s seriously writing away, I would imagine, at this point. He probably thinks it’s awful, and he’ll work on whatever his particular anxiety is.

Do you have any idea when it might premiere? We had to wait till August last year.
I wish I knew. That’s above my pay grade. All of those decisions are made at a level far, far above what I get to sit in on.

How do you think Don is going to handle being single?
I think especially for a man in this job, in that city, in those sort of societal circles, being single is considered a liability. So I think that will inform a lot of his decision-making. And I think also having this monkey off of his back, of this marriage that was founded on a lie — this huge lie being off the table is a big change in his life.

Do you think his hairstyle will change during the course of the sixties?
That’s a good question, and I don’t know. I think certain people get into certain patterns and I think those patterns are hard to break. I think Don is pretty much a creature of habit.

You’ve been doing a lot of TV comedy lately and your Saturday Night Live episodes have been huge hits. Did you help out with the writing process at all?
I wish I could say I helped out. I know quite a few of the writers there and coming back a second time, you’re way more comfortable. I think it gets better the more you give yourself over to it. I made the decision the first time I hosted, “All right, do with me what you will,” and just let them dictate what the show would be. I’m certainly not a comedy writer and depending on who you ask, people think I’m funny or people think I’m horribly unfunny. They have a 90-minute show to put together in four days, so the fact that it gets on the air at all is remarkable to me.

How long did it take to perfect your Jamaican nurse accent for 30 Rock?
That was given to me literally the day before we shot it. They were like, “We wrote some more stuff, so we’ll see you tomorrow.” I was like, “Okay, how much more can it be? Oh great, it’s a completely different take, awesome.” So we shot that while I was hosting SNL. It was a very busy week.

Photo: Munawar Hosain/Fotos International/Getty Images