Actor Jon Hamm Discusses His Rehab Stay

Actor Jon Hamm Discusses His Rehab Stay

By Paul Fuhr 09/18/17

The actor completed a 30-day stint in rehab for alcohol use disorder back in 2015.

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Jon Hamm

It’s often hard to separate TV actors from the characters they play: Leonard Nimoy and Spock; Matt LeBlanc and Joey; Kelsey Grammer and Frasier. The same could be said for Jon Hamm and Mad Men’s Don Draper, as his face has become almost inextricably connected with a character renowned for his vices. And while we logically know that actors are simply embodying characters whose impulses and backstories are carefully scripted, it can still be surprising to discover that actors and the characters they play aren’t that far removed from one another.

According to a recent New York Times profile, Hamm revealed that he checked into rehab in March 2015 to face a very real battle with alcohol, a problem that wasn’t all that different from the one that plagued his 1960s marketing exec character. The goal? “Recalibrate. Re-evaluate. Just sort of re-establish where you are,” Hamm said. “You’re coming off of this Tilt-a-Whirl that’s going 9,000 miles an hour, and so many things have come unfixed. If you think about navigation, you’re trying to stare at a fixed point. When you navigate to something that’s whirling, it’s difficult.”

Hamm didn’t enter a treatment program with a Tiger Woods-level press conference or some carefully worded statement, either. Instead, he discreetly entered a 30-day treatment program at the “nationally recognized psychiatric Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut,” according to Us Weekly.

His stay in rehab was announced only after the fact, several days before the premiere of Mad Men’s final season. The story noted that while Hamm went through rehab with the support of long-time girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt, they split up five months after he’d finished treatment. “It’s all a learning experience,” Hamm said about his decision to seek treatment and find sobriety. “It’s all about growing older and getting better at living. And I hope I did.”

In a profile on the actor at Mr. Porter, Hamm further detailed his stay at Silver Hill: “[Rehab] has all these connotations, but it’s just an extended period of talking about yourself. People go for all sorts of reasons, not all of which are chemically related,” the actor observed. “But there’s something to be said for pulling yourself out of the grind for a period of time and concentrating on recalibrating the system. And it works. It’s great.”

And in the months following treatment, recalibrate he has: Hamm has not only continued to find acting work, but he’s finding dynamic, vital roles that suggest the actor is hungry to prove something not only to audiences, but himself. Hamm appeared in this summer’s hit Baby Driver as Buddy, an unpredictable, wild-eyed thief who’s equal parts frightening and funny. Hamm also recently appeared in the beautifully nuanced sci-fi film Marjorie Prime, which won the Sloane Feature Film Prize at Sundance.

And with several other feature films set for release, it’s also worth mentioning that Hamm continues to be no stranger to the small screen, either. The actor has appeared on everything from the Netflix comedy Wet Hot American Summer (as a black-ops assassin named “Falcon”) to (of all things) SpongeBob SquarePants

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at paulfuhr.com. You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.

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