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Jon Hamm reveals depression struggle, work as adult film set dresser

09/22/2010 by Corinne Heller

Jon Hamm in a promotional scene from 'Mad Men'. (Photo courtesy of AMC) Jon Hamm says he struggled with chronic depression and worked briefly as a set dresser for a softcore pornographic film before he landed his big break as ad firm partner Don Draper in the AMC series Mad Men.

His mother died of stomach cancer when he was 10 and his father passed away when the 39-year-old actor was a University of Texas student.

"I struggled with chronic depression," Hamm told the UK newspaper The Guardian. "I was in bad shape. I knew I had to get back in school and back in some kind of structured environment."

He said working, undergoing therapy and taking antidepressants helped, adding "If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: 'I want to get up in the morning. I don't want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go do my (expletive) and go to work.' Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!"

Hamm moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Los Angeles when he was 24. Before Mad Men, he scored small parts in films and worked as a waiter, bartender and once, as a set dresser on a softcore pornographic film, to try to pay his bills and make his rent.

"You gotta move cameras around, and ashtrays," he said about his adult movie experience. "Continuity is apparently an issue."

Hamm was once dropped by a prominent agency said that he was overwhelmed by his first acting opportunities.

"There's this hideous thing they make you do when you go up for a television show: they make you sign a contract before you walk into the final audition," he said. "So you sign this thing  and I had no money; I was broke. They're calling you in, you're like: '(Expletive!) I have to do the scene! What the (expletive) are the lines?' I would get hung up on that stuff and be an utter failure in the room."

An acquaintance named Jennifer Westfeldt eventually invited him to be in a New York play she was working on and he accepted her offer. He then lived on a couch in a friend's apartment in the city and the play, Lipschtick, was the basis for the 2001 film Kissing Jessica Stein, which helped relaunch his career.

Hamm has been nominated three times for his role on Mad Men, which is currently on its fourth season. He stars in Ben Affleck's new film The Town.

In the movie, a group of thieves, two of which are played by Affleck and Renner, hold up a Boston bank. One of them falls in love with its manager and later pursues her unmasked as he is tracked by an FBI agent, played by Hamm. Lively plays the sister and ex-girlfriend of Renner's and Affleck's characters.

Check out jobs other celebrities had before they became famous.


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