Las Vegas • To portray J.B. Bernstein, the sports agent behind the signing of the first two Indian Major Leaguers, Jon Hamm had to act like a noble guy in Disney’s based-on-a-true-story “Million Dollar Arm,” instead of the cutthroat ad exec he embodies on TV’s “Mad Men.”
“I’ve played Don Draper enough,” said Hamm during an interview earlier this spring in Las Vegas while promoting the film, which opened Friday. “I get a lot of scripts that are a version of Don Draper. But I wanted to play something that had heart.”
That’s not to say he isn’t going to miss playing the notorious TV character. The Matthew Weiner-created series is in its final season.
“It’s going to be difficult to say goodbye,” Hamm said. “It’s going to be emotional. For most of us it’s been career-defining.”
When “Mad Men” wraps next year, Hamm says he’d be open to signing on to another series. For now, he’s focusing on film — mostly of the family-focused variety. Next he’ll voice a character in 2015’s animated “The Minions,” a spin-off to Universal Pictures’ “Despicable Me” franchise.
“I’m happy to be involved in something that my friends can take their kids to,” said Hamm, 43, who admits he’s not sure what a film like “Million Dollar Arm” will do for his career.
“When you find out that someone like him is going to play you in a movie, it blows you away because everyone in Hollywood is trying to get him into a part,” said Bernstein in a phone interview. “The fact that he related to the journey that I went through was a big honor.”
In “Million Dollar Arm,” sports agent Bernstein’s career is slipping, so he cooks up a plan to travel to India to find a pair of cricket players and turn them into Major League pitchers.
Hamm acknowledges he’s been fortunate to have a “side career” consisting of comedic roles in films like “Bridesmaids” and comedy series like “Parks and Recreation.”
“I’ve been accepted into the group of weirdos,” he said. “Part of being Don Draper is that you have a lot of currency in that dramatic side of things, but I hope to be able to bounce back and forth.”