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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]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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