A no-brainer, right? With his handsome face, broad shoulders, strong chin and perhaps the best voice in television, Jon Hamm was born to play Don Draper, the rising advertising executive of 1960, complete with the Grace Kelly-beautiful wife, two kids, a home in the suburbs and a Cadillac. But it took Hamm, 37, more than 15 years to become an overnight success. He had to audition seven times before he got the Mad Men lead, a role that netted him an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe. Actually, little came easy for Hamm or Mad Men, which creator Matt Weiner shopped around Hollywood for years before AMC took a chance on it. But back to Hamm — like his character, he had a less than idyllic childhood. His parents divorced early and were deceased by the time the boy was 20. Perhaps that familiarity with life’s difficulties explains Hamm’s ease at playing the good-guy Draper while always having Draper’s dark side nearby. This ability to be attractive and unattractive is something he shares with another product of a difficult childhood, the actor born Archibald Leach, better known as Cary Grant.

  • Fast Fact: Jon Hamm held a series of jobs in Hollywood — substitute teacher, day care provider, stagehand — while he auditioned, mostly without success, for acting roles.

Honorable Mentions:
David Duchovny, Californication, Showtime Networks:
Watching him as immature, sex-obsessed but ultimately decent dude Hank Moody, you have to marvel as you wonder how much Duchovny is acting. He seems so natural in the role.

James Gandolfini, The Sopranos, HBO: Among Gandolfini’s gifts as the angst-ridden Mafia chief was his ability to create the multifaceted Tony. That was crucial to the series’ immense success. We had to love Tony’s boyish charm almost as much as we feared him. Craftsman Gandolfini accomplished this masterful feat for six seasons.

Return to 2008 CableFAX Program Awards table of contents.

The Daily


WICT Reveals Touchstones Honorees

WICT announced its 2021 Women of the Year and Women to Watch honorees Friday, acknowledging the individuals embodying WICT’s mission to transform the industry through female leadership. Noopur Davis , evp

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up


Sep 17
Most Powerful Women – 2021 Final Deadline: Sept 17, 2021
Dec 7
Most Powerful Women CelebrationSave the Date!
Full Calendar


Seeking an INDUSTRY JOB?

Hiring? In conjunction with our sister brand, Cynopsis, we are offering hiring managers a deep pool of media-savvy, skilled candidates at a range of experience levels and sectors, The result will be an even more robust industry job board, to help both employers and job seekers.

Contact John@cynopsis.com for more information.