Embrace Jon Hamm as A Movie Star, You Cowards
Okay, yes, at first appearance, he’s not exactly an underdog: Jon Hamm is a very famous, very gorgeous man who spent seven years as the star of one of the greatest television shows ever.
With the gravitas he displayed while delivering ad pitches as Don Draper on Mad Men, he was able to parlay this into a lucrative career doing voiceover work in commercials for companies like Mercedes-Benz and American Airlines, and he was nominated for a record-breaking 16 Emmys before finally winning one in 2015 for his final season on the show.
He has appeared on ten different episodes of the iconic sketch comedy show and has hosted it three times. He is so frequently seen in the company of other comic greats that Vulture once called him “America’s hottest comedy nerd.”
You know you’re leading a charmed life when your greatest public embarrassment is currently that there are entire online galleries of paparazzi photos that show off how well-dressed you are.
A few years ago, an ugly hazing incident from his college fraternity days came to light, but after the actor addressed it by admitting he was “a stupid kid in a stupid situation,” we all turned our attention to whatever the next celebrity scandal was, and it barely made a dent in Ham
Still, despite all this, you can’t help but think he’s missing out on some major opportunities.
Hamm’s Career After Mad Men Has Generally Speaking, Not Lived up To Its Potential
He’s an accomplished performer who can handle dramatic and comedic roles, and whose face “looks like a cartoon pilot,” as Liz Lemon said on 30 Rock. What’s holding him back from being a huge Hollywood star?
Although Jon Hamm did appear in a few films throughout his Mad Men run, none were very significant (his most prominent roles during this period were a supporting role in Ben Affleck’s The Town in 2010 and a memorable appearance in Bridesmaids in 2011).
It was the 2016 action comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses that signaled to audiences and casting directors whether he would be able to emerge from the shadow of the TV show that made him a household name and becomes a genuine Hollywood A-lister, or whether he would continue to be overshadowed by Mad Men.
The Film Was a Massive Flop, Costing 20th Century Fox Over $10 Million
His next year’s performance as the doped-up antagonist Buddy in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver was also fantastic, but that was still a supporting role.
Aside from the forgettable Beirut, which made about $7 million worldwide, he hasn’t had a leading role in a picture since then. (To put that in context, this week’s high-profile box office failure, Billy Eichner’s Bros, earned $4.8 million in its first weekend alone.)
Instead, he’s been confined to bit parts, such as an FBI agent in Richard Jewell or Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson in Top Gun: Maverick, whose entire job seems to be randomly popping up for a few seconds to convey directives so Tom Cruise’s Maverick may sneer and disregard them.
After His Success on “Mad Men,”
Hamm has largely played opposite types in TV comedy. On 30 Rock, he played gorgeous but dimwitted Drew Baird, and on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he played doomsday preacher Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, who held a group of women captive in his underground bunker.
A nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy was given to him for both of these roles, and he went on to star in the Netflix film Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and appear in a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
It was pure brilliance for Hamm to exclaim “A shanda!” at Albert Brooks when he found out Brooks was collecting toilet paper during the epidemic after he had earlier pressed Larry David to give him some Yiddish words to put into conversation.
After spending the greater part of a decade embracing the gloom as one of TV’s most legendary anti-heroes, comedy has become his niche, perhaps on purpose. In interviews and on late-night talk shows, he has a good sense of humor and comes across as charming and personable when he is himself.
He looks like he was made to play swashbuckling elegant guys who aren’t afraid to also appear tremendously foolish in high-budget screwball rom-com and glamorous mysteries with snappy banter, like Cary Grant or George Clooney. What’s the use of his wasting his good looks on Flo the Insurance Lady in those Progressive commercials if he’s not getting paid?
Very Few People Outside of Film Critics Are Aware of Its Existence
I’ll admit that in Fletch he saw a chance to advance his career by playing the major role. But there’s just one catch: Very few people outside of film critics are aware of its existence; these critics are unanimous in their admiration, and they all wonder why Paramount didn’t release it in theatres more widely.
The film, which has Hamm in the role made famous by Chevy Chase, “I.M. Fletcher,” was released directly to VOD on September 16. There has been almost no promotion for the picture.
This fascinating mystery, in which Hamm reunites with his Mad Men co-star John Slattery (seeing the two of them exchange brilliant one-liners is worth the $19.99 rental cost alone), would not have been made if Hamm hadn’t returned 60% of his income.
It may be the start of a new series for him (there are 11 Fletch books to choose from) or at least a stepping stone to more prominent roles that better utilize his talents. The 2022 incarnation of the Blockbuster clearance section has instead buried it.