Sports talk with Jon Hamm

US-OSCARS-VANITY FAIR PARTY-ARRIVAL
Cardinals fan Jon Hamm will host the ESPYS.

Jon Hamm isn’t taking “Mad Men” questions. He’s only talking sports, be it his hosting gig at this year’s ESPYS — ESPN’s equivalent of the Oscars or Grammys — or his starring role in “Million Dollar Arm,” in which he plays real-life sports agent J.B. Bernstein as he looks for new baseball pitchers among India’s cricket champs. He’s about to wrap the latter, after which he’ll fly back to America to take the stage among athletes.

“It’s not going to be ‘The Jon Hamm Show,’ nor should it be,” he says, adding that he won’t be the only one trying to crack wise. “It’s been my experience through various dealings with ESPN through the years and stuff I’ve done with ‘Saturday Night Live’ that athletes are desperate to crack eachother up and make fools of themselves.”

Hamm is a giant sports fan; he’s most rooting for his team, The Cardinals, though his schedule doesn’t always permit him to watch them, even when they’re in the World Series. But his respect extends to everyone. “There used to be a saying — or maybe I made it up — that all athletes want to be movie stars, and all movie stars want to be rock stars, and all rock stars want to be God,” Hamm says. “I think it’s basically that no matter how good you are at what you do, whenever you look at some one else who’s excellent at what they do, you can’t help but be jealous. I’m definitely like that when I see athletes.”

He was an athlete himself, at least in high school. “Most of what it was was I hated working out. And I still do. Sports provided a way to actually get some exercise and work out while not doing something dumb and repetitive like lifting weights.”

As for “Million Dollar Arm,” it’s his chance to star in a genre he adores: The sports movie. It’s one where he doesn’t mind the cliches. “I think the formula is the good thing about sports films, honestly,” he argues. “What makes a great sports film is sticking to it — that I knew what’s coming and it got me again. With the story told in “Miracle” — I watched that game live! I knew how it was going to end! You know how it’s going to end but it still gets you. That’s the best part.”

When asked what famous athlete he’d like to play, he replies with Gordie Howe. “I can’t skate a lick. But old time hockey I find absolutely fascinating. He played hockey for four decades. Some of those may have been minor league, and maybe with his kids or grandkids. That would be pretty cool. Or I could just play Paul Newman’s character in ‘Slap Shot.’”

Inevitably his personal life comes up, and how with George Clooney once again single, some eyes are on men who haven’t married. Hamm remains unwed, though he’s been with his girlfriend, the actress and filmmaker Jennifer Westfeldt, since 1997. “I just can’t manage any sort of fascination with anyone’s personal life. It’s silly, Jen and I have been together for many years. It’s constantly mind-boggling to me that people care,” he says, with a laugh.

 

Jon Hamm’s favorite sports movies:

“The Natural”
“Bull Durham”
“Miracle”
“North Dalls Forty”
“Caddyshack”
“Hoosiers”

Maura Mandt, ESPYS executive producer, on Hamm:
Jon was a die hard sports fan growing up in Missouri — a three-sport athlete in high school. There are two main things we want: Talent — and Jon has that, and he’s proven he has comic chops by doing “SNL” —but also he’s an authentic sports fan. You can’t put someone up on this night in this room who does not have knowledge of sports this year.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…