Things Jon Hamm Wants You To Forget

Jon Hamm's breakout role as advertising executive Don Draper in Mad Men (2007-2015) made him a household name. He's not just popular for his dashing good looks, but also because he seems like such a nice guy, which is why he'd probably prefer it if everybody forgot about the following events.

The college hazing incident

Hamm might be considered a nice guy now, but that may not have always been the case. While he was attending the University of Texas in 1990, Hamm was involved in a pretty severe hazing scandal.

Fox News reports that as a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity, Hamm was one of several students named in a lawsuit filed by Mark Sanders, who was pledging the frat at the time. While hazing new recruits is pretty common, Hamm allegedly took things to a horrifyingly aggressive level. Sanders claimed that when he failed to memorize enough information about the the fraternity members, Hamm allegedly got very angry and physically abused Sanders, striking him with a paddle and dragging him through the mud. Hamm was also accused of trying to set Sanders' pants on fire. Sanders required medical attention and dropped out of school; he later pressed charges against the frat brothers.

While Hamm was never actually convicted of any crime, he was charged with hazing and sentenced to probation, and the Sigma Nu chapter was shut down. The lawsuit was dismissed in 1993. Hamm left the University of Texas that same semester and returned home, where he began auditioning for roles in local plays.

He worked on porn

When he was first trying to break into the acting world, Hamm actually had a pretty tough time landing gigs. He started taking whatever work he could find to pay the bills, and that's how he ended up being hired as a set dresser for softcore porn films. To be clear, Hamm never acted in any porn movies (as far as anyone is aware). A set dresser is exactly what it sounds like: a person who places furniture and other scene appropriate objects around a set.

Hamm called his behind-the-scenes work on those movies "depressing" in an interview with Anderson Cooper (via the Daily Mail). He explained, "There was a reason that I was hired to do that job and it wasn't because they needed somebody excellent in that position. If they were focusing on whether the ashtray was in the right place then someone else had done their job terribly. It was a couple of weeks and it was a pretty depressing way to make a couple hundred bucks a day."

His bulge

It's probably a good thing that Hamm never acted in any porn, because he's actually extremely private about his privates, though plenty of other people are obsessed with the bulge in his pants. For a while, photos and memes about the actor's seemingly impressive manhood became a running joke across the internet. The only person who didn't seem to get in on the fun was Hamm himself. He did not enjoy all of the attention he was getting, especially when people would approach him in public and point at his crotch. He was also mad at how people were painting him out to be an exhibitionist, which is something he vehemently denies.

Hamm told Rolling Stone, "Most of it's tongue-in-cheek, but it is a little rude. It just speaks to a broader freedom that people feel like they have—a prurience." He added, "They're called 'privates' for a reason. I'm wearing pants, for f***'s sake. Lay off...There are harder jobs in the world. But when people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my c***, I feel like that wasn't part of the deal...But whatever. I guess it's better than being called out for the opposite."

Sucker Punch (2011)

No actor has a perfect resume. Everyone has at least one role or movie that they're embarrassed by. The problem for Jon Hamm, however, isn't just that he starred in a bad movie. It's that he starred in a bad movie that really pissed everyone off. Sucker Punch (2011) is a Zack Snyder film about a girl named Baby Doll who has a terrible life, so she imagines herself living different lives. Unfortunately, those lives include being a prostitute and going to war. The film was accused of being exploitative and sexist, which is hard to argue against considering how many scenes involve the main character giving lapdances.

This is definitely the sort of movie an actor would want to distance themselves from. What's really confusing is that this film came out in 2011, four years after Mad Men had already premiered—and Hamm had just starred in the critically acclaimed The Town (2010). He wasn't a struggling actor at this point. That means that he chose to star in a movie that's mainly remembered for proving that Snyder doesn't know how to write for women.


Page Six reports that Hamm completed 30 days in treatment for alcohol abuse and emerged "in good spirits" in 2015. Everybody has their demons, and the fact that Hamm went to rehab isn't something he should be judged for. He had a problem, recognized it, and seemingly took the steps necessary to fix it. The only problem is that this all went down while Hamm was still staring as Draper, the hard-drinking womanizer of Mad Men.

It's one thing for somebody to have their own demons, it's another thing to become famous for glorifying those same demons. Draper was popular for being the archetypal man's man, and his drinking played a big part of that. While the show acknowledged Draper's alcoholism, it also often glorified it at the same time. Many of the iconic shots from the show feature multiple characters drinking hard liquor. Consequently, it was unsettling to see the actor behind these scenes become a real-life warning to the dangers of alcohol.

Hamm told TV Week that he's aware of the parallels between his on and offscreen struggles, saying, "Obviously, there can be a lot of discussion about how much of this is related to that and honestly I don't have much to say about that either."