Jon Hamm can finally break free from Mad Men with his new film
WARNING: Contains minor spoilers for Confess, FletchWith his new movie Confess, FletchJon Hamm can finally leave behind the iconic role of Don Draper in Mad Men. Since Mad Men ended in 2015, Jon Hamm had a number of television and film roles, but none of them had the impact of Don Draper. It can often be difficult for actors to outgrow their most iconic roles, and this is often due to studio typography and casting directors’ lack of imagination. For example, he’s often called upon to play very similar roles to Don Draper, shrewd salesmen like Laramie Seymour Sullivan in 2018. Bad weather at the El Royale or the baseball talent scout in Disney’s Million Dollar Arm from 2014.
Confess, Fletch is a film that recognizes the best way to use the talents of Jon Hamm since Mad Men ended. Based on the comic detective stories by Gregory McDonald, Hamm plays Irwin Maurice Fletcher, a former investigative reporter and amateur sleuth who is framed for murder while searching for missing artwork. Confess, Fletch is the third film based on the McDonald’s novels, following the two Chevy Chase films of 1985 and 1989. Fletch is an ideal character for Hamm, leaning more on his gifts for comedy and character work while brilliantly reversing the role of Don Draper.
Like Dick Whitman taking on the Don Draper persona, Fletch also takes on multiple identities during his investigation. In the Chevy Chase movies, these identities have been played out for wide laughs, with the comedian donning wigs, fake noses, and even a French maid outfit. The identities that Jon Hamm assumes as Fletch are much more pared down, often involving putting on a pair of glasses or taking off his lucky LA Lakers cap. However, it’s in the way Hamm subtly changes the tone of his voice or his physical movements that provides both the comedy and the change to his character. It’s further proof of Jon Hamm’s skills as a comedic actor, which will take him beyond the specter of Mad MenIt’s Donald Draper.
Why Jon Hamm should be celebrated as a great comedic actor
Audiences have seen Jon Hamm play to his good-looking image before in comedic roles, of course, including as black kidnapper and cult leader Richard Wayne Gary Wayne in The unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This role was the perfect subversion of Don Draper’s character, using a more comedic lens to expose the ill effects of the Mad Men the silver tongue and the misogyny of the protagonist. He also memorably appeared in an uncredited role in Bridesmaids like Kristin Wiig’s douchebag booty call, Ted. Most recently, Hamm appeared alongside Larry David in the HBO movie Clear story and in episodes of Calm your enthusiasm.
However, these comedic roles have mostly been supporting characters or straight males for the main actors in comedy. Confess, Fletch finally gives Hamm a starring role in a studio comedy, and he shines as Irwin Maurice Fletcher. In the Chevy Chase films, Fletch was an overtly comedic character who often clashed with the film noir aesthetic of the source material. As an actor known for his more dramatic role in Mad MenJon Hamm adds a degree of naturalism to the role of Irwin Maurice Fletcher which corresponds better to the generic conventions of the detective film. It gives the film a drier, more deadpan comedic style that makes Fletch archer’s jokes and banter, and funnier than CaddyshackThe sometimes irritating non-sequences of Chevy Chase. With 11 Fletch novels, hopefully there will be many more screen outings for Jon Hamm in the title role.