Jon Hamm Opens Up About His 'Necessary' Breaking Point in 2015

Jon Hamm from Esquire
Marc Hom/Esquire

The 47-year-old actor spoke to 'Esquire' about his childhood, his career and his troubles.

For Jon Hamm, 2015 was an atrocious year.

Mad Men, the show that made him a household name, ended forever. He checked into rehab. An embarrassing 1990 frat hazing incident involving him was unearthed. And he broke up with Jennifer Westfeldt, his girlfriend of nearly 20 years.

But Hamm says it was "necessary," in a new Esquire article

“I had a lot of shifts in my life. A lot of rearranging of priorities. I don’t think it was conscious, but it was necessary. It was tricky, and the dust is still settling in many ways,” he tells the magazine. "Good, bad, indifferent: It’s ephemeral. So sit in it for a minute and experience it. If it sucks, it too will be gone in a minute.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Hamm also discusses his difficult childhood, one where he watched his mother die at age 36 and his father die a few years later, and the strange path of his career, from private acting school to skin-flick set dresser to Hollywood star and, well, the kind of ridiculously handsome and successful person Esquire puts on their cover nowadays.

Marc Hom/Esquire

As for his roots, Hamm, wasn't enthused to discuss the aforementioned hazing incident from the 1990s.

“Everything about that is sensationalized. I was accused of these things I don’t…It’s so hard to get into it," he shares. "I don’t want to give it any more breath. It was a bummer of a thing that happened. I was essentially acquitted. I wasn’t convicted of anything. I was caught up in a big situation, a stupid kid in a stupid situation, and it’s a f**king bummer. I moved on from it.”

He also waxes -- not quite nostalgic -- about his first on-set experiences, working as a set dresser on Cinemax softcore porn films. It turned out that they weren't really checking resumes when he showed up one day to take over for a friend on set.

“I got that job because of a friend of mine, this girl who was like our stage manager in college…I was hanging out with her and another friend of ours from Mizzou, commiserating at a potluck. None of us had any money. I’d lost my catering gig. I was like, ‘I need a job.’ My friend said, ‘You can have my job. I’m doing set dressing.’ I said, ‘I don’t know how to do that.’ She says, ‘It’s not that hard. They’ll hire anybody.’ She says, ‘It’s just soul-crushing for me. I can’t do it,’" Hamm recalls. "I said, ‘Soul-crushing: That sounds amazing. I’ll do it.’ And she’s like, ‘It’s for these Skinemax soft-core t***y movies.’ I asked, ‘What do you do?’ She hands me this bucket with all of her tools in it and says, ‘You just move s**t around. Do whatever they want you to do.’ I went in the following Monday and said, ‘I’m the new set dresser.’ Literally, no one blinked.”

Hamm, who was recently filming the part of a traveling vacuum salesman for the upcoming noir-thriller Bad Times at the El Royale, continues to resist suggestions that he's been typecast as "men finally confronting the wreckage and reality of their past."

“If you’re the handsome white guy, you tend to get cast as guys who are meant to be convincing in their jobs," Hamm says. "What I’ve been fortunate enough to do, whether it’s playing a certified idiot on 30 Rock or a weirdo in Bridesmaids, is play against that in a lot of ways.”

The full interview with Hamm will appear in the Spring + Summer issue of Esquire’s Big Black Book, available April 10.

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