Inside the Cover Story: Jon Hamm

By Amy De La Hunt
In Culture

4_May_2014_cover_type sizedJon Hamm has a great voice. I’m sure there are other great things about him too, but celebrity interviews almost always happen over the phone. (Yes, bummer!)

Then again, you can learn a lot in a half-hour conversation—especially if you’ve done your homework ahead of time so you don’t need to tick through valuable minutes getting basic facts. You can focus instead on reactions, opinions and musings. Get at what’s going on in his head. And after all, that’s what we all really want to know, isn’t it? If you were glued to the TV for the season opener of “Mad Men” like 98 percent of Americans, you already know Jon Hamm’s bio…you want more from ALIVE’s exclusive interview.

That’s why my prep work for the interview involved only a little TV or movie viewing and a lot of reading. A lot. Everything from in-depth profiles in other publications to Twitter feeds to studio PR releases. Fortunately, ALIVE had done a Q&A with him several years ago, and it was a rich source of background. (Props to Kelly Hamilton!)

Gradually, questions started to emerge—I jotted them in a notebook as I went along—and of course the editors suggested potential angles too.  But as with any interview, until I turn off the recorder at the end, it’s impossible to predict exactly what direction the piece will take. And even then, I usually spend a few days thinking it over after I painstakingly transcribe the interview by hand.

Yes, it’s true—I’m old-school when it comes to putting pen to paper at the front end of the writing stage. But I’m constantly amazed at the insights that jump out at me while listening to the interview a second time.

For example, while we discussed his new movie, “Million Dollar Arm,” Jon was bursting with enthusiasm. My scribbles could barely keep up! On the other hand, when we got to “Mad Men,” his pace slowed dramatically; I noted nearly every word legibly during the call and barely had to transcribe anything. He was so deliberate and thoughtful—and clearly emotional.

I came away completely impressed, both by his shrewdness about acting as a profession and his obvious enthusiasm for the collaborations still to come in his personal career. It will be interesting to see what comes next for this very talented actor with the great voice.

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