Jon Hamm checks into 'El Royale': His favorite Batman and that dangerous 'Top Gun' splurge
You are not imagining things. That is Jon Hamm fully turned out in 1960s-era attire for "Bad Times at the El Royale," the first time he has revisited the era since his career-defining, Emmy-winning role as Don Draper in AMC's "Mad Men."
But Hamm is a long way from Madison Avenue (and Draper's exquisite wardrobe) as traveling salesman Laramie Seymour Sullivan, who checks into the once-glamorous El Royale resort. Sullivan's loud demeanor and louder plaid suit jacket are so out there that Hamm knew it was a big step from his famous character: "It was like, 'I think we can work with this.' "
Question: So what did you say when they called about this "El Royale" part, which meant revisiting the "Mad Men" era?
Jon Hamm: Obviously, I’m hyperaware of the awareness that comes with being me in a '60s period piece. I’ve lost roles because of that. I’ve talked people out of casting me in roles. It’s too reminiscent. You don’t want that thing. But this is so different, Sullivan's so flamboyant. He’s so not Don Draper.
Q: That 'El Royale' set is so elaborate. Were there real ice machines?
Hamm: There were no ice machines, but there were definitely beds and Bibles, that’s for sure. I could have slept there. In fact, it probably would have been better to sleep there. It’s definitely the biggest set I’ve ever been on. I've had that immersive feel certainly on "Mad Men," when you walk through the office and all the papers and all the minutiae are period-accurate. It really does help. It help forms the way the movie looks and the way it feels being there.
Q: I have to go to Batman, because the idea is so out there about you being in line as the next Caped Crusader.
Hamm: It’s on social media, but it’s not really a thing. You know that, right?
Q: There are no actual discussions going on with movie studios. But you've been anointed by social media. Have you started amping up the workouts?
Hamm: I have to keep working out anyway because being 47 (is hard). I’m trying to keep up with everybody named Chris.
Q: Then settle the global debate. Who's the best Chris: Pratt, Hemsworth or Evans?
Hamm: The one that’s in my movie, Chris Hemsworth. I’ve met him in passing, he got in as I was leaving. But he’s a lovely guy. Most of my experiences with Chrises have been fantastic, in their own way.
Q: Fair enough. Best movie Batman?
Hamm: Probably Michael Keaton in 1989's "Batman." I was familiar with the 1960s television show with Adam West and the comics. I read them a lot as a kid. But the Tim Burton "Batman," the first one, had such a cool-yet-campy, fun dark energy. I appreciated it when they brought in (Christian) Bale, and when they brought in (Ben) Affleck, they kind of turned the series a little bit. There’s a reason that story and that character still continues to entertain and enthrall audiences in kind of the same way that James Bond does. I’m sure whatever they do next will be really cool.
Q: Can you give an idea of how intense the security is around "Top Gun: Maverick" secrets?
Hamm: You are handed the script in an envelope. And the person who hands it to you sit and waits until you have finished the script, and then you give it back. It’s very hush-hush, as it should be. It’s very exciting. Who doesn’t want to see Maverick back in the seat?
Q: Can you just tell us your character's name?
Hamm: No, I cannot. But it is a cool name.
Q: How big a deal was "Top Gun" to 15-year-old Jon Hamm?
Hamm: That movie held such an incredible place in my life when it came out. I saw it over and over – Maverick, Goose, Iceman, Viper and all the cool names. Everything about it was so cool, and Tom Cruise just looked great with that smile and these great sunglasses. I spent all of my lawn-mowing money on a $49 pair of aviator sunglasses. As soon as you pull out those glasses, Kenny Loggins starts wailing and you’re in the Danger Zone. That’s all you hear, the soundtrack in your head.
Q: There's an ongoing discussion about speeding up the pace of Major League Baseball or making changes. As the world's biggest St. Louis Cardinals' fan, what should be done?
Hamm: First of all, it’s not broken. The last three World Series were the most exciting I have seen in some time. The product they are putting out is pretty great. In terms of pace, if you want baseball to be basketball, you should watch basketball. For me, the exciting part of baseball is the pastoral part of it.
There is no better evening than going to a baseball game. Sitting and eating peanuts and watching baseball to me is about as pure an expression of American delight as I can possibly experience. I’ve taken people from other countries. They have many questions. They're fascinated.
Q: Does that have anything to do with being at a baseball game with Jon Hamm?
Hamm: There’s that, too. I’m a very good person to watch baseball with.
Q: So no changes?
Hamm: I would get rid of the designated hitter. The DH is an abomination. Other than that, baseball is fine.