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Jon Hamm on Don Draper's affairs: 'I think they're all meaningless'

The one who was Don Draper talks about the difficulty of changing and going through the five stages of grief post-show.

Jon Hamm finished playing Don Draper almost a year ago. But because the last season of “Mad Men” was split over two years, he’s still talking about him — and not talking about what happens in the final seven episodes. In New York for a junket, Hamm talked about the grieving process, which scenes or episodes are his favorites (spoiler: he has no favorites) and the difficulty of change.

When last we saw Don: “Don had lost his most important touchstone to reality, which was his job. … When he comes back and is sitting around the office all day and realizes that no one missed him — that’s a pretty terrible feeling to have. Especially when someone like Peggy says it: “I can’t say I missed you.” There’s a lot of “f— you” to that, but there’s some real truth. It was very, very difficult for Don to get through that. And then losing Bert [Cooper] not only affected his power in the office, but was a loss, one in a series of losses in his life of people who believed in him.”

How he’s handling with the show being no more: “You go through the five steps of grief. You whoever invented those was a genius. … It was eight months ago, so there’s a process of leaving, and we call kind of did our own thing. Between then and now people have done movies and plays, moving on with their lives. … But saying goodbye was a real thing. It was very much a process of walking onto a set that I walked onto for eight years and going, ‘Oh s—, it’s gone. When did that happen?’ Those are definitely little reminders that everything ends.”

Don vs. change: “He struggles with a lot of things, and sometimes wants to change but doesn’t want to do the work. Because the work sucks. It hurts. And it dredges up a lot of s— you don’t want to deal with. It has to be uncomfortable and you have to be vulnerable. It’s so much easier to tell someone to go f— themselves, or to drink it away, or have sex with a cocktail waitress — whatever it is. Those aren’t healthy.”

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Don the dad: “When I talk about Don and his relationships, the one that 100 percent of the time it comes back to is his kids. Don is very aware of what he’s done, is doing and will do to his kids. He saw it happen to himself. He was terribly parented and he doesn’t want to be a bad parent. Sometimes you can’t help it, but he’s very cognizant of it, much more than he is with other adults in his life. He loves Sally, without any qualifiers. … I think he sometimes, as many men of that generation, has a hard time expressing it. That’s one of his struggles, and he’s going to have to work through that. Maybe he’s the guy who becomes a great grandpa. I had a very good relationship with my grandfather, and I would talk to my aunts and uncles about him and they were like, ‘Yeah, he’s great, but you didn’t know him as a dad.’ He’s mellower.”

On spoilers: “I could literally write down the last scene of ‘Mad Men’ for you. But why would that be fun? Other than you would know something no one else knows. But then would you want to watch the episodes? Would you give a s—? Reading the last page of a novel doesn’t really tell you anything, because there’s no context. You know how it ends but you don’t really know how it ends. You know the last thing. Matt told me how it ended four years ago. Or he told me an idea he had for the way it might progress. But that was 30 episodes ago. He didn’t tell me how we’re getting there.”

What was don’s most meaningful affair?: “I think they’re all meaningless.”

The show’s habit of having Don haunted by ghosts: “Don Draper is already dead. He was taken in his life. [Dick Whitman, his real identity] watched Don Draper die. He took his life. That’s foremost in somebody’s mind when they see that happen. What is [death] going to be like? It’s probably terrifying.”

Does he have a favorite scene or episode?: “There’s no favorite scene. There’s no favorite episode. I’ve talked at length about an episode called “The Suitcase” that I thought was an exquisite hour of television. I think the pilot’s really good for a pilot. That’s a lot to get out in 48 minutes. I’ve gotten to say a lot of fun and funny things on the show. … For the amount of work I have to do on the show, it doesn’t feel like work. I know a lot of people will say, ‘No s—, you put on other people’s clothe sand you wear makeup for a living.’ But it can be hard work, sometimes, and it rarely felt that way.”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
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