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Jon Hamm: 'I'm in a Modern Family, Myself'

Who knew Jon Hamm had a PG side?

The actor, who stars as the confident yet brooding Don Draper on AMC's Mad Men, takes the lead in Disney's family-friendly film Million Dollar Arm, hitting theaters May 16. Based on the true story of a sports agent who travels to India to find the next baseball phenom, the film shows a softer side of the actor.

Not that Hamm isn't a charmer in real life. In our interview the actor was funny, self-deprecating, and candid about his surrogate family, baseball and his relationship with actress Jennifer Westfeldt. (Yes, ladies, he's still taken.)

What experiences from your own family life did you bring to the film?

I’m in a modern family, myself. Everyone’s like, "When are you and Jen (Westfeldt) going to get married?" We’ve been together for 16 years, and yet we’ve, we’re very, we’re as married as anybody.

I don’t have kids, but I’ve been a teacher, I’ve been a day-care teacher; I have tons of nieces and nephews, and I feel like all of these people are my family. I lost my parents very young. I’ve had a lot of surrogate parents in my life—you know ... family, friends—who have sort of adopted me in many ways, so I have a very fluid definition of family as well.

This role is wildly different from Don Draper. What was it about this film that drew you to it?

I read the script and finished the script and loved it, and then looked back to the title page and went, "Wait a minute. This is true?" I am a huge baseball fan, and somehow this flew under my radar. It’s about 180 degrees from Don Draper, this character that I play, but it’s affirming and it’s uplifting and it’s heartwarming and it’s emotional and it’s not a “sports” movie so much as it’s a movie that moves you. It’s a film that I can tell my friends to take their children to and not be like, "Don’t watch the part where I say horrible things."

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There are some highs and lows in this film. Did you relate to it in your own career as an actor?

You know, it’s not difficult to draw a parallel between a sport agent’s life and an actor’s life in many ways. You have to sort of project this confidence; you have to project this sort of charisma and charm and everything, and then it all falls apart, and that’s every audition that I’ve ever been on for the first three years of my career in Los Angeles. You know, you walk in the room, you’re like, "This is going to be great! I’m the best guy and you love me and—no, it’s not working? OK, bye."

You're known for your edgy, not-so-kid-friendly roles. Did you feel limited by the PG rating?

Absolutely not. We live in this incredibly cynical time, and I almost started crying when Rinku [one of the baseball players who was recruited in India] was talking about his struggle. It’s such a beautiful story, and it’s a story about working hard. I still play baseball, terribly. But the journey that these two boys went on from literally never having seen a baseball to getting to an elite performance level is an impossible journey. We’re all very proud of it. So yeah, I’m thrilled to be in a PG movie.

Photo by Ron Phillips/©Disney Enterprises, Inc

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