A Stolen Moment with Jon Hamm

A Stolen Moment with Jon Hamm (photo)

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Having won a Golden Globe for his iconic role on TV’s “Mad Men” as the conflicted ad executive Don Draper, St. Louis-born actor Jon Hamm might seem like he’s most at ease in a sharply pressed suit and with a stiff drink in his hand, but that’s acting, isn’t it? In the new indie murder mystery “Stolen” (formerly called “Stolen Lives”), the square-jawed hunk stars as Tom Adkins, a small-town police chief who hasn’t accepted that his son may be dead, having disappeared some eight years before. When the mummified remains of a murdered child are uncovered, the case speaks to Tom’s troubled soul and soon becomes his quest to find the truth. In a curious twist, the film introduces parallel flashbacks to 50 years earlier, as Matthew Wakefield (Josh Lucas), the father of the boy in the box, seeks his own catharsis. Hamm called me to talk about “Stolen,” what he has in common with Adam Sandler’s “Billy Madison,” and two kinds of comics: both the graphic novels he loves, and the stand-ups he’s friends with.

I’m sure you’ve had a slew of movie offers in the last couple years, so how did you come to take a chance on a little indie with a first-time director?

We shot this film between season one and two of “Mad Men” a little over two years ago. I thought it was an interesting script, and I didn’t have to play somebody in the ’60s, which was a refreshing change of pace. [laughs] You roll the dice on any independent film, whether or not the thing will ever see the light of day. But I sat down with Anders [Anderson, the director] and [cinematographer Andy Steinman] and they seemed to know what they were doing — they weren’t just guys with more enthusiasm than actual intelligence: “Which way do we point the camera?” They seemed to have a firm handle on how to tell that story, so as you said, I took a chance.

03032010_Stolen2.jpgYour character is a broken man, in utter denial about his son. Is it draining to shoot an entire film from that headspace?

It was tough, especially given the rigors of an independent film schedule. You’re cramming a lot of work into a small amount of time because of the money involved — basically, there is none. So you have to sprint the whole way and hope you have the movie when the well runs dry. You don’t want to play this character as just one note, a bummed-out sad guy, but there is that driving obsession. My mother passed away very suddenly when I was young, but she passed away — there was no chance of her ever coming back. When you lose somebody and there’s this question mark hanging, I would imagine it [would] be a life-long obsession. What happened? Obviously, it’s to the detriment of the rest of your life, your relationships and your family.

Have you had any of those “question marks,” perhaps not to that extent, for which you’ve done something seemingly absurd in search of answers?

I can tell you right now that if my dog ever disappeared, if would be a life-long obsession of trying to find out what happened. [laughs] It’s a completely different kind of film, and I can’t believe I’m actually going to quote it, but I will: “Billy Madison,” Adam Sandler’s movie, when he’s talking about how he lost a dog, he’s like, “You gotta get out there and FIND THAT DOG!” You literally need to drop everything. It’s a tortured analogy, almost infantile in its ridiculousness, but that’s how I feel about my dog.

Would you ever want to have a son someday?

If the opportunity presented itself, sure. I think the realities of that, and given [long-term partner Jennifer Westfeldt of “Kissing Jessica Stein”] being an actress and what that takes away career-wise from you, are tricky. I don’t think either one of us will rule anything out, but I don’t know how ready I am to be a dad. Anybody can have a kid, but it takes a lot of work to be a dad. We actually have another script that we’re developing that Jen recently wrote about what happens when people start having kids and how it changes your life. It’s a cool script, so hopefully we’ll get that made.

Speaking of dads, Ryan Cutrona has a small role in “Stolen,” and he also plays Don Draper’s father-in-law on “Mad Men.” Was there any casting connection to the show?

How about that, right? No, I didn’t know when it happened. I was like, “Oh my god, what are you doing here?” Ryan’s a fantastic actor. It was just a bit of serendipity.

03032010_MadMen.jpgSince doing “Mad Men,” how much more hypersensitive have you become to advertising?

Even as a kid, I was always a bigger fan of commercials than programming. People who say, “Advertising doesn’t work on me”? I had that attitude. Meanwhile, I want Nike shoes and can sing the jingles to 1500 ads by memory. So I haven’t become more sensitive to it, but I’ve certainly become more appreciative of how hard people work to make it so effective.

In interviews I’ve read, you don’t seem to share much in common with Don Draper. How do you think you’re most diametrically opposed to that character?

Don has a very fleeting relationship with the truth. I think that’s a survival tactic for the most part, but it’s also a business approach. A lot of people, when the show first came out, said “This is such a bad guy.” He is in many ways, but he also has a weird, specific sense of morality. So I guess the thing I have least in common with Don is I’m honest to a fault — I have a very hard time lying. Don does not. [laughs]


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.