John Hamm Interview: “It’s never been about the money and definitely not about the celebrity that comes with this job.” – ‘Beirut’

PARK CITY, UTAH –  The public may never be able to separate Jon Hamm from Don Draper, but Hamm doesn’t really care.  He grew to loathe the character during his tenure as Mad Men’s self-destructive hero and paid the price by winding up in rehab once the series ended.

But today Jon Hamm is a new man, happy to be finding good roles and escaping the legacy of those grey suits, skinny ties, and smoky bars.  In person, Hamm, wearing a thick black beard, is the polar opposite of Don Draper.  He smiles easily, there’s a twinkle in his eyes, and he is eager to develop an instant rapport with you.  His fans will also be pleased to learn that his new film, BEIRUT, finally allows him to display those darker and edgier sides that turned Draper into a cultural icon.

Hamm delivers a searing performance as Mason Skiles, a former diplomatic attaché brought out of retirement to help free an American agent captured in Beirut.  Drenched in cynical fatigue and a palpable sense of despair,  Hamm/Skiles draws us into this taut espionage drama while he teams up with another agent, Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike), in a complex effort to negotiate the release of the captive agent who was once a good friend while they were both stationed in Beirut.  In the course of his preparations for the film, Hamm had to master some basic Arabic.

“I had to learn Lebanese Arabic dialogue phonetically,” Hamm says.  “It’s very difficult to speak a language whose sounds and cadence are so different from that of English. But there’s a beauty and rhythm to it that was interesting for me to be able to express in a very limited way.  I like those kinds of challenges, that’s what I really enjoy about acting.  It’s never been about the money and definitely not about the celebrity that comes with this job.”

Set in 1982 amid the chaotic factional warfare that gripped Lebanon during that era, Beirut is a first-rate spy drama directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Fringe) and scripted by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton).  Interestingly, Gilroy first wrote the original screenplay 27 years ago yet this masterful piece of storytelling only finding its way to the screen now after Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and other major Hollywood players had been attached to the project

The 48-year-old Jon Hamm grew up in St. Louis, Mo. where he was a talented amateur baseball player before good friend Paul Rudd helped get him a foothold in Hollywood. Hamm lives in Los Angeles and is currently rumoured to be dating Peakly Blinders star Annabelle Wallis.  He split from actress/writer Jennifer Westfeldt in 2015 following a 17 year relationship.

Beirut will be released in the U.S. on April 13 and in the UK and other European markets in May.  In addition, Hamm stars in the adventure comedy Tag opposite Leslie Bibb and Jeremy Renner which opens in the UK in July.  He was most recently seen in Baby Driver and Marjorie Prime.




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