After a long struggle in Hollywood, Hamm, 44, became famous in 2007 for playing alcoholic, womanizing Don Draper on the landmark AMC series. He won a Golden Globe in 2008 for the role, and has been nominated for an acting Emmy seven times.
After an eight-year run, “Mad Men’s” final season will air this spring.
“There’s no version of this ending that is not super painful for me,” Hamm said last year, as The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever reported. “[‘Mad Men’] has been a single constant of my creative life in the last decade, so that’s kind of tough. Yeah, I will be happy when [the final episodes] air and I don’t have to fake like I don’t know how the show ends [but] I will never be able to have this again, and that’s a drag.”
In the past, Hamm has tried to draw a bright line between himself and the character he plays on television.
“There is no Don Draper,” he told Esquire last year. “Don Draper was blown up in a ditch in Korea. That whole ‘Be Don Draper’ thing, I feel it’s … sad.”
He added: “This is a fundamentally f—– up human being.”
But some quickly drew a line between the real man and the ad executive who specializes in behaving badly. Deadline Hollywood called Hamm’s trip to rehab “a surreal case of life imitating art.”
“The news does change the narrative in the final promotional push for AMC’s celebrated first original series,” Nellie Andreeva wrote. “It also raises the question about the toll of playing an anti-hero.”
Andreeva pointed out another case of an actor who perhaps got too deep into a role: the late James Gandolfini. After Gandolfini first inhabited New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano on “The Sopranos,” which debuted in 1999, his personal life seemed to get worse. He got divorced. There were problems with drugs. He would disappear from the set. And he reportedly once punched himself in the face.
“Turning Tony — anxiety-prone dad, New Jersey mobster, suburban seeker of meaning — into a millennial pop-culture icon, the character’s frustration, volatility, and anger had often been indistinguishable from those qualities of James Gandolfini, the actor who brought them to life,” GQ wrote after the actor’s death at age 51 in 2013. “It was a punishing role, requiring not only vast amounts of nightly memorization and long days under hot lights, but also a daily descent into Tony’s psyche—at the best of times, a worrisome place to dwell; at the worst, ugly, violent, and sociopathic.”