Jon Hamm has spent the last 20 years in the entertainment industry living the Hollywood high life. But, many don’t know that the Mad Men star had a turbulent childhood and spent decades pursuing his dreams before landing the role which launched him to success.
Jon was 36 when he was cast in Mad Men, meaning his celebrity status came to him after a decade of scraping by in Hollywood. Since then, the actor has accumulated a wealth of credits to his name. He is now set to appear alongside Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show. The duo has recently been spotted hanging out in New York together during filming.
From his humble beginnings to hanging out with the Friends icon, let’s take a look inside Jon Hamm’s life…
Inside Jon Hamm’s troubled childhood
Sadly, Jon Hamm’s early life growing up in St Louis was met with tragedy as his mom, Deborah, died of colon cancer when he was just 10 years old. His father, Daniel, moved in with his grandma and just a decade later, when Hamm was 20, his father passed away too.
Following this traumatic time, Jon struggled with chronic depression.
He told The Guardian: “I was in bad shape. I knew I had to get back in school and back in some kind of structured environment and… continue.”
However, he reveals that therapy helped give him another perspective when he was “so lost in your own spiral” stating that he “did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period” and “it helps.”
Hamm recently opened up about the grief whilst talking to Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Monday, October 3. He shared that losing his mom has blocked his “emotional accessibility, availability and vulnerability.” He added that the “process of working on [himself]” and “unpacking” the trauma was integral to bettering himself.
The actor admits, “I’ve survived a lot in my life,” Hamm told People in 2014.
“I’ve had a lot of close calls with a lot of stuff. I think someone’s watching out for me.”
Although, he is hopeful for the future and acknowledges that life isn’t perfect. He said: “Everyone’s got a sad story. I’ve had two good decades and two bad ones. No one was raised in Happyland. It doesn’t exist.”
Hamm packed his bags and pursued his dreams
Hamm described himself as a “nerdy kid” and a “voracious reader” who played three sports in high school. He went on to attend the University of Texas and later returned to his high school for a year, to teach theater. Interestingly, a student he taught was Ellie Kemper, who later became his co-star in Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Hamm then moved to Hollywood to pursue his dream of acting, he worked part-time jobs to make ends meet.
“There were a couple of years when I was living on $5,000 a year,” he added.
“With that kind of poverty, you’re not buying food, you’re eating Ramen noodles and living off your roommates’ largesse. It was hard.”
His first on-screen appearance was in an episode of Ally McBeal before landing a spot on the third season of Gilmore Girls and in season seven of Buffy. He worked for a decade in small roles just waiting for his big break which finally came in 2007.
Hamm landed the role of Don Draper in Mad Men in October 2007 and soon became an overnight success. It was nominated for 15 Emmys and won six. Hamm himself was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series.
Jon Hamm’s relationships – heartbreak to newfound love of his life
Jon was in a long-term relationship with Jennifer Westfedt for eighteen years, from 1997 to 2015. Though the couple never married, Hamm called Wedtfeldt “the love of my life” and as she believed in him when nobody else did.
After nearly two decades together, the pair shared the news of their breakup.
“With great sadness, we have decided to separate, after 18 years of love and shared history,” the duo told People in a joint statement. “We will continue to be supportive of each other in every way possible moving forward.”
In March 2015, Hamm spent 30 days in rehab to treat his problems with alcohol, as per The Guardian. News of his rehab stint broke during a press tour for the final season of Mad Men. It also meant Hamm had to address it publicly. Interestingly, Don Draper, who he played for seven seasons, was an advertising executive with drinking problems of his own.
Hamm is now dating Anna Osceola, who he met on the set of Mad Men in 2015. Hamm opened up about their relationship while talking to Howard Stern revealing that he is “very much” in love.
He continued: “It’s good and comfortable, and it’s a feeling about taking care of someone else and being taken care of.”
Hamm added that he “could for sure” see himself spending the rest of his life with her.
Jon Hamm gave up half his salary to fund film
Jon Hamm’s most recent project to release sees him as Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher. It follows the unconventional investigative reporter in the film, Confess, Fletch. The series displays Hamm’s comedic excellence, as he clearly gave his all to the role… along with half his pay cut.
In 2022, he gave up 60 percent of his salary to fund an extra three days of filming for Confess, Fletch. The film was then given a budget of $20 million, which the film’s director Greg Mottola confirmed to Uproxx, saying Hamm “gave back 60 percent of his salary to the budget”.
He continued: “I gave back some of my salary, not as much as Jon because he’s richer than me and I’ve got three kids.”
If you’ve been affected by this story, you can contact American Addiction Centers on (877) 686-7688. Or Talk To Frank on 0300 123 6600 in the UK.
If you would like someone to speak to, please call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. You can also email them at [email protected] or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch in the UK. In the US, please visit Samaritans USA for more information.
You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Or text 741741 to get in touch with the Crisis Text Line. Americans can now call or text 988 to reach out and speak to a counsellor.