Jon Hamm reveals who almost played Don Draper


Image Credit: Jim Spellman/

After four seasons as Mad Men‘s Don Draper, it’s difficult to imagine anyone but Jon Hamm as the dapper 1960’s ad executive whose seemingly perfect life is slowly being unraveled by a dark secret. Hamm is Draper, even when he plays versions of the chiseled-chin character for laughs on 30 Rock or Saturday Night Live. But it almost never happened. Hamm tells Marc Maron in his WTF Podcast (scroll to 41:00) that Don Draper was nearly Hung. That is to say that AMC originally had its sights set on Hung‘s Thomas Jane for the role.

“I started, literally, on the very, very bottom — I couldn’t have had less heat on me,” said Hamm, whose biggest credit pre-Mad Men was a minor role on Providence. “Nobody knew who I was. The casting directors didn’t know who I was. I wasn’t on anybody’s lists. … The funny thing was, I think they went to Thomas Jane for it, and they were told that Thomas Jane does not do television. Now starring in Hung, by the way.”

Draper and Jane’s Ray Drecker, a divorced high-school teacher who combats dire financial times by working as a male prostitute, couldn’t be more different, so it makes for a fascinating what-if. Moreover, Mad Men can boast Emmy wins and pop-cultural resonance. Hung, on the other hand, has carved out a niche audience in its three seasons on HBO.

I like Jane a lot — as does Hamm, by the way. His performance as Mickey Mantle in Billy Crystal’s 61* was, in many ways, Draper-esque. But on a purely superficial level, I just can’t imagine Jane swilling drinks in Draper’s suits. Maybe it’s simply because I can’t imagine Draper with lighter-colored hair.

Can you imagine both shows without their respective leading men? How might Jane’s Draper be different than Hamm’s? And do you think AMC interviewed any actors with more than four letters in their last name? Is this the most painful what-if for an actor since Tom Selleck had to turn down Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Read more:
Thomas Jane talks season 3 of ‘Hung’
‘Mad Men’ season 5 pics

Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • BobDecker

    No one could pull of the Drapes like JHamm. No one.

    • Carlos

      Flor – Wow you are so talented!! I am a pogaohrtpher too (learning and experiencing still)… and I can really recognize your creativity and talent… also… your capacity to shine in music… wow… please never never stop… God gave you these gifts and you have to use them!!! Your music and pictures are now international… I am from Argentina… I am a Christian too… I grew up in a church just like yours but here in my country that is not a usual thing (it is a catholic country)… with that I just want to say that I feel we have a few things in common.And I also absolutely love your blog!!! So… Jon… you have a fan down here in Buenos Aires…

    • ebony

      Carlos and bobdecker shut up! Don draper is a ugly name! And don is lame! Anf jon hamm is ugly! Jensen ackles is the real hearthrob! And dean winchester can kick dons but anyday!

  • BobDecker


  • radiwarsx

    I can’t see Don Draper as anyone but Jon Hamm. On the other hand, now I can’t see Jon Hamm as any character except Don Draper. When I was watching The Town, I kept thinking that Don Draper had joined the FBI.

    • Karate Pants

      Jon Hamm IS Don Draper.
      Well, and I’ll allow that he also makes a delightful Dr. Drew. And a hearty thank you to Bridesmaids for some highly photoshoppable screencaps…ahhhhh…

      • tracy bluth

        Agree! Maybe it’s just because of how obsessed I am with the show, but I just can’t picture any other actors playing Don, Peggy, Joan, Roger, Pete, etc.
        Also, KP, have you seen the tumbler Emotions with Jon Hamm? I have a feeling you’d enjoy it.

      • Karate Pants

        Thanks, I’ll check it out

  • Melissa in CA

    I kinda wish Jon Hamm was playing Ray Drecker, so we could see more of him. :D Actually, he should play both roles. Thomas Jane is such an @ss.

    • Kevin

      My husband and I are abuseotlly crazy about this show now! We stream it through Netflix and are nearing the end of season 4. Arghhh! They don’t have season 5 yet! Above all else I hugely admire people who can write a series like this. What talent! Thanks for being a fellow junkie on this one. xoxo

  • Lisa

    Why hasn’t this man become amovie star already?Jon Hamm has everything it takes to be a str.He is more cary grant than george Clooney ever was.

    • zee

      because he can only play Don Draper!

    • ebony

      Lisa shut yp ! The reason jon hamm is not a star cause he is not talented! jensen ackles is way better ! Jensen is the real star! Bye trolls!

  • H.Y

    Has anyone else read that story where Thomas Jane says he blew a bunch of guys for money when we first got to Hollywood?

    • radiwarsx

      I saw something about it, didn’t read the article though.

      • Olavia

        Jody – Oh Betsy, Just Beautiful and the words you wrote by each picture caerutps the moments just perfect and have such personal meaning behind them. You have such a God given talent with words and photography. Of course, the Bride & Groom are my favorites (all of them are). It was a pleasure having you there to share in Jon & Ashleys special day. Great job as usual.

  • Shannon Nutt

    I can actually see Jane in MAD MEN, and could see Hamm in HUNG. Both men are very good actors and could have easily played each other’s current roles. Usually, when you hear “I can’t imagine anyone else playing…” whomever, it’s because the studio has hired an actor who can ONLY play the part in question, rather than an actor who is very versitile.

    • i could see it

      Me too. Jane would have made a good Draper.

  • Lauren

    No. I think Jon Hamm is able to so carefully walk the line of sympathetic protagonist while being extremely frustrating to watch some of the decisions his character makes. I think Jane would play too much to the sleaze factor and Don would be impossible to route for as a character.

    • Dave

      You’re so right. It’s a very fine line that Hamm has to walk as Don Draper, and he does it exquisitely.

  • That Guy

    If this guy got cast, then the entire cast would have been different. I remember hearing that everyone wanted a more “ugly” cast but Weiner insisted on having Jon Hamm, even though he’s handsome. He’s no David Chase.

    • H.Y

      Compared to Jon Hamm every man in the world is ugly.

      • ebony

        H.Y your soo wrong cause jon hamm is ugly7 and jensen ackles is wayy better than him! Compared to jensen ackles every man in the world is ugly! Including jon hamm anf tom jane they are ugly! And spn is a better show too! Hung sucks and m as d men is boring! Dean winchester is the best! H.Y your soo dumb ! This site is boring! Bye trolls!

    • Johnification

      You have that backwards – Weiner almost didn’t hire Hamm because he thought Hamm was too handsome. Then he saw the man act, and the rest is history.

  • Corinne

    Love Jon Hamm in the role, and I’m not familiar with Thomas Jane’s work. However, I’ve often thought Aaron Eckhart would have made a great Don Draper.

    • s

      I tried watching Hung a few times and found Jane to be a horrible actor. Very wooden and lacking the gravitas Hamm brings to the role. Now that you mentioned Aaron Eckhart I can actually see him being a pretty good Don draper. Jon Hamm is just so amazing in the part that I can’t imagine anyone else doing a better job. Plus, he wears a suit like no one else, so sexy and manly.

      • punch drunk fool

        Ever seen boogie nights?! Thomas Jane is sooo f*cking good in that. janes hella good in that but otherwise hung and his acting in hung are not where Hamm is. I really believe that he is don draper like the way I actually believe hall is Dexter. But still not as convincing as Cranston playing Walter white. Hes unf*ckingtouchable

  • Rosella W

    Thomas Jane can play ANY role. I’d definitely watch Mad Men w/ Jane as Don Draper. However, It’s hard to think of Hung without associating it w/ TJ.

  • elena

    Jon Hamm is god. I just wonder what’s going to happen when Mad Men runs its course. Is he going to have a super-serious-awesome movie career, Jeremy Renner-style, or go to another show? He does comedy well…but what a lucky break to play a character like Don Draper. So nuanced, so badass.

    • ebony

      jon hamm is not a god! He suck! Plus he is ugly! Jensen ackles is the real god!

  • J

    would of been interesting…Jon Hamm is Bryan Cranston, thas for sure.

  • tracy bluth

    Don Draper just wants his kids back.

    • Karate Pants

      Don Draper just wants Rachel Menken back.

      • tracy bluth

        Yes please!!!!!!!!!!

      • LOL

        Ummmm…. have you actually watched past season one?

  • k

    Didn’t Thomas Jane do a guest spot on “Arrested Development”?

    • Dinjab

      Thomas Jane: I’ve made a huge mistake.

    • J

      he was quietly funny on AD.

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