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Acting Career Review: Hamm’s Life

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Hamm was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Deborah and Daniel Hamm. His father managed a family trucking company, and his mother was a secretary. He is of German, English, and Irish descent; his paternal surname came from German immigrants. Hamm’s parents divorced when he was two years old, and he lived in St. Louis County in Creve Coeur with his mother until her death from colon cancer, when he was 10 years old.

Hamm then lived with his father in Clayton, Missouri, the county seat. His first acting role was as Winnie the Pooh for first grade. At 16, he was cast as Judas for the play Godspell, and enjoyed the experience, though he did not take acting seriously. He attended John Burroughs School, a private school in Ladue, where he was a member of the football, baseball, and swim teams. During this time, he dated Sarah Clarke, who became an actress. His father died when Hamm was 20. After graduation during 1989, Hamm enrolled at the University of Texas, where he was a member of the Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity. There, Hamm was arrested for participating with a violent hazing incident in November 1990. Mark Sanders was beaten with a paddle and a broom by other fraternity members, while Hamm was leading him with a hammer claw around Sander’s testicles around the fraternity house; Sanders’ clothes were also set afire. The incident resulted in the fraternity being shut down on campus. Hamm made a plea deal and completed probation under the terms of a deferred adjudication; the charges were dismissed during August 1995.

“Acting was fun, but my grandfather would always tell me, “It’s never too late to be an engineer”. You were supposed to get a “job” and do acting on weekends or at school”.— Jon Hamm. Hamm then enrolled at the University of Missouri. At Missouri he answered an advertisement from a theater company seeking players for a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, auditioned, and was cast in the production. Other roles followed, such as Leon Czolgosz in Assassins.

Acting career

After graduating in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Hamm returned to his high school to teach eighth-grade acting.

One of his students was Ellie Kemper, who later became an actress and now stars in the Netflix original television series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Early work edit “I came in the Dawson’s Creek era; it was all about tiny guys who looked like teenagers, and I haven’t looked like a teenager ever. So I was, like, auditioning to be their dads. At 25”.— Hamm, on not finding work as a young actor. Hamm has known actor Paul Rudd for many years. Not wishing to stay in a “normal career”, Hamm relocated to Los Angeles permanently during 1995 with an automobile and $150. He relocated into a house with four other aspiring actors and began working as a waiter while attending auditions. He acted in theatre, including as Flavius in a production of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens with the Sacred Fools Theater Company. Looking older than his age, finding work as an actor was difficult, despite representation by the William Morris Agency.

During 1998, having failed to obtain any acting jobs after three years, he was terminated as a client by William Morris. Hamm continued working as a waiter  and, briefly, as a set designer for a softcore pornography movie. After repeatedly failing to get promising roles, Hamm set his 30th birthday as a deadline to succeed in Hollywood, stating: You either suck that up and find another agent, or you go home and say you gave it a shot, but that’s the end of that. The last thing I wanted to be out here was one of those actors who’s 45 years old, with a tenuous grasp of their own reality, and not really working much. So I gave myself five years. I said, if I can’t get it going by the time I’m 30, I’m in the wrong place. And as soon as I said that, it’s like I started working right away.

During 2000, Hamm obtained the role of romantic firefighter Burt Ridley on NBC’s drama series Providence. His one-episode contract grew to 19,  and enabled him to quit waiting tables. Hamm made his feature movie debut with one line in Clint Eastwood’s space adventure Space Cowboys (2000); more substantial roles followed in the independent comedy movie Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) and the war film We Were Soldiers (2002).

During filming that movie, he turned 30. His career was bolstered by his playing the recurring role of police inspector Nate Basso on Lifetime’s television series The Division, from 2002 to 2004. Other minor roles followed on the television series What About Brian, CSI: Miami, Related, Numb3rs, The Unit, and The Sarah Silverman Program. Hamm’s Mad Men castmate Eric Ladin had said that one of the reasons he admires Jon is that while he “made it” later than most actors, Hamm never gave up on acting.  International recognition Hamm landed his breakthrough role during 2007, when he was cast from more than 80 candidates as the protagonist character Don Draper, in AMC’s drama series Mad Men. In the series, set in a fictional 1960s advertising agency, he plays a suave, married advertising executive with an obscure past.

He recalled, “I read the script for Mad Men and I loved it. I never thought they’d cast me – I mean, I thought they’d go with one of the five guys who look like me but are movie stars”.  He believes that an actor with a “proven track record” would likely have been chosen if another network had broadcast the show. He went through numerous auditions; each time he explained to the casting directors what he could bring to the character, if given the part.  Alan Taylor and Mad Men creator Matthew Weinerinitially thought Hamm was too handsome for the role but ultimately decided, “it was perfect to cast sort of the perfect male in this part”. Weiner also sensed that the actor had suffered early loss of his parents, which was similar to Draper’s backstory. Hamm says that he used memories of his father to portray Draper, a well-dressed, influential man of business and society hiding great inner turmoil  and experiencing changes in the world beyond his control.

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Acting career review: Hamm’s Life. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/acting-career-review-hamms-life/
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Acting career review: Hamm’s Life. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/acting-career-review-hamms-life/> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2021].
Acting career review: Hamm’s Life [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jan 03 [cited 2021 Jun 21]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/acting-career-review-hamms-life/
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