Jon Hamm talks Mad Men finale

It was around season four when Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner imagined the final image of Don Draper. The satisfying finale allows viewers to interpret that last shot of Draper however they please. But the actor who played the hard-drinking, chain-smoking ad exec for so many wonderful years, Jon Hamm, doesn’t have the most positive interpretation of the character’s final moment.

Below, hear what Hamm recently had to say about the Mad Men finale (spoilers ahead).

In the series finale, not long after Don breaks down and connects with another man who feels insignificant, he’s meditating on a beautiful, sunny day. He smiles a little in this quiet moment, perhaps coming to a grand epiphany. Or maybe he only smiles because an idea for a Coke commercial suddenly comes to him, the famous 1971 Hilltop ad. One could also say he smiles for both reasons.

Hamm, on the other hand, doesn’t think Draper walks away from that meditation session a new and greatly improved man. “That leopard is not changing his spots,” he said on The Rich Eisen Show. Here’s the clip from the interview:

Hamm is maybe more realistic than cynical about Draper’s future after the finale. It’s understandable he thinks a character that damaged isn’t changing anytime soon, but even when he comes up with the idea for the ad, there is an important personal realization in Hamm’s view. Shortly after the finale aired, he told The New York Times the thought of the advertisement does give Draper some sense of certainty, identity, and comfort:

When we find Don in that place, and this stranger relates this story of not being heard or seen or understood or appreciated, the resonance for Don was total in that moment. There was a void staring at him. We see him in an incredibly vulnerable place, surrounded by strangers, and he reaches out to the only person he can at that moment, and it’s this stranger.

My take is that, the next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man. And so, this thing comes to him. There’s a way to see it in a completely cynical way, and say, “Wow, that’s awful.” But I think that for Don, it represents some kind of understanding and comfort in this incredibly unquiet, uncomfortable life that he has led.

Even the most optimistic of Mad Men fans might find themselves agreeing with Hamm’s most recent take. Whether Draper changes much or finds some happiness in that final moment or not, he likely has another long road ahead of him. His flaws aren’t going to disappear, but at least, in the end, he achieves comfort, even if it is brought to him by Coca-Cola.

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