Jon Hamm – Man on Deck
Men's Journal|November - December 2020
Next summer, Jon Hamm helps breathe new life into a classic with his star turn in Top Gun: Maverick. But, after five years of surprisingly varied roles since the end of Mad Men, that’s not even the most interesting—or unexpected—Hollywood legacy he’s about to reinvigorate.
By Jesse Will. Photographs by Carter Smith

Jon Hamm spent much of 2020 perfecting the art of “waiting it out.” Instead of touring the world to talk up Top Gun—currently slated for July 2021 after two pandemic-related premiere pushes— he took to chatting with some rabbits in his front yard. In lieu of spending long days on set, Hamm whiled away the nights catch-up Zooming with the friends he rarely saw in the Before Times. In other words: This star’s just like us!

Not for long, though. By the time “normal” life returns, Hamm will be knee-deep in reviving another classic Hollywood franchise. And if he’s not the first actor you’d peg to bring Fletch back to the big screen, you must have missed the multiple Saturday Night Live and comedy film appearances that earned him the nickname “The King of Cameos.”

But before all that can happen, the film business itself needs to grind back into production. We caught up with Hamm at his Los Angeles home this fall, just as he was preparing to be back on sets for the first time since March.

So how are you at quarantining? Is your personality set up for this?

Well, yes and no. It’s obviously been a challenge that we’ve all collectively experienced in our own particular ways. I’ve tried to focus on maintaining a sense of grace and gratitude and tried to kind of find the good in every day. It’s been challenging. The days tend to blend. But I will say, my gym, my trainer, recently, sort of reopened, and that’s been a real plus. Not being able to work out has been a real fucking bummer. I just got back from the gym, that’s why I was a little bit late. That’s been a real game-changer. I’m not the kind of guy that wakes up and does situps and pushups.

Have you picked up hobbies?

No is the official answer. I wish I could say that I learned how to play the guitar or learned Japanese. But I’ve succumbed, as I think many of us have, to inertia. I’ve been doing a lot more reading, catching up on some TV shows, and cooking a lot. But just being at home is a new thing for me. The last four or five years of my life, I’ve basically lived in hotels or Airbnbs, on set, on location. And it’s actually been kind of nice to be at home. There’s a nesting pair of hawks that live in my backyard that I check out every day. There are these three bunnies that live in my front yard. And they’re just used to me at this point.

Let’s hope they don’t meet each other.

The hawks are a daytime thing, the bunnies are an evening thing. I’m glad that they haven’t met. I don’t want to wake up and see fur in my yard.

One of the bigger events of 2020 for you would have been the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick, which has now been pushed to next summer. You were a teenager when the first one came out. What do you remember?

I was probably 15, at the dead center of the target demographic. I remember seeing the trailer and thinking, “Yes. That looks awesome.” And it was. As an adult, I’ve seen it in the interim a couple times, and you realize that [director] Tony Scott, who came out of commercials, had an incredible sense how to tell a story, visually. That movie just looked so cool. It didn’t make sense, because every shot was at sunset or sunrise. But who cares? And it was a commercial for action and adventure. Thirty years on, the new film delivers that same kind of sensibility. It’s perfectly nostalgic for the old one, but tells the next chapter of the story—how these characters have both grown and stagnated in many ways.

When you were 15, did you think of yourself as more of a Maverick or a Goose?

I was probably more of a Goose. I’m happy letting somebody else drive. I’m an integral part of the team, but not necessarily the guy at the wheel.

Did having Tom Cruise in the lead take some of the pressure off? Or was that intimidating?

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