We tried really hard not to swoon when we saw Jon Hamm, Mad Men’s Don Draper, at Michael Kors’s season-two kickoff party Wednesday night. But he’s Don Draper, for goodness sake. And, yes, he’s just as charming as his workaholic philandering TV counterpart. We talked with Hamm about the upcoming Mad Men backlash, leaping ahead in time, and mistaking paternalism for misogyny.
So what do you think of all this bandwagon-jumping and Emmy buzz?
I’m waiting for the inevitable backlash. You can’t have buzz in this country without having backlash. You can’t get excited about something in popular culture without the haters coming out. We’re about two-thirds of the way through shooting the second season and it’s really good.
It can take a while to warm up to the characters on Mad Men. Do you like them?
I love ‘em. They are very realistic portrayals of people in their own time. From our perspective, there’d be lots of calls to Sterling-Cooper HR, but that wasn’t the case then. I don’t see it as misogynist in a weird way because that was the norm. It wasn’t coming from a place of, I hate women.
It’s like they’re taking care of them.
Yeah, exactly. To them, women were their property in a lot of ways, and there’s obviously a negative connotation to that but also a very paternalistic protective thing to that. There’s a weird back and forth in the sexual politics of the show. They’re chasing the secretaries around to find out the color of their underwear, but then he helps her up like they just had a date and, “Wasn’t that fun?” I think that a lot of people have responded to that.
What would you want for Draper?
I hope he figures out that life is about being happy and that you need to figure out what that is that makes you happy as soon as you can. Don exists to tell people what makes them happy, yet he doesn’t really know what does it for himself. I’d like to see him figure that out and be happy. I don’t think it’s gonna happen this season. But I hope it happens, and I hope it doesn’t leave a trail of sad, dejected wives and children and things. But that’s often the case of what happens. I mean, I’m a child of divorce. A lot of my friends are. Sometimes that happens.
The series jumps up to 1962. Was that weird to film?
Well, think about what you were doing fourteen months ago. Maybe you had different glasses, but it was pretty close. So it wasn’t “OH MY GOD they have muttonchops and go to the disco.” —Jocelyn Guest
Check out Vulture’s complete Mad Men coverage:
The SYSW Index: What Makes ‘Mad Men’ a Show You Should Watch?
Jon Hamm of ‘Mad Men’ on the Future of Don Draper
Don Draper’s ‘Mad Men’ Bookshelf
Emily Nussbaum on Pete Campbell and His Poignant Crumminess
Logan Hill on Don Draper, Granite Statue and Train Wreck