'Mad Men' star Jon Hamm was so broke in his early career that he owed his landlord nearly a year's rent and dodged calls from creditors

Jon Hamm in June 2024.
Jon Hamm is known for roles on "Mad Men," "Fargo," and "The Morning Show."Chris Pizzello/AP
  • Jon Hamm said he struggled to pay rent for seven or eight months before his acting career took off.

  • Hamm told The Hollywood Reporter that he talked his landlord into "being fine" with him owing rent.

  • Hamm also said that he avoided calls from 800 numbers in an effort to evade creditors.

Jon Hamm is widely recognized for his Emmy-winning role as Don Draper on "Mad Men," but before his career took off, he struggled to make ends meet.

"At a certain point, I had owed my landlord here in LA about seven or eight months' worth of back rent that I somehow talked her into being fine with," Hamm said in a recent interview as part of The Hollywood Reporter's drama actor Emmy roundtable, released on Thursday. "Like, 'Yeah, I'll get it to you eventually. Of course I'm good for it.'"

According to THR, Hamm's finances were so strained that he dodged phone calls from creditors throughout the '90s.

"The caller ID would come up and if it was an 800 number, it would immediately go to voicemail," the "Fargo" actor said.

Jon Hamm as Sheriff Roy Tillman in the "Fargo" season five finale.
Jon Hamm as Sheriff Roy Tillman on the "Fargo" season five finale.FX

Hamm got his earliest professional acting roles in the early 2000s, appearing on TV shows like "Providence" and having a minor role in Clint Eastwood's film "Space Cowboys." His big break came when he landed the main role on AMC's "Mad Men," which is set in New York City in the '60s and focuses on a fictional advertising agency.

"Mad Men" premiered in 2007, and Hamm earned eight Emmy nominations for his performance as advertising executive Don Draper, finally winning the trophy for lead actor in a drama series in 2015. He also nabbed additional Emmy nominations for his comedic work on the NBC sitcom "30 Rock."

But before all that critical acclaim, Hamm spent three years not securing a single acting role.

"I came in the 'Dawson's Creek' era; it was all about tiny guys who looked like teenagers, and I haven't looked like a teenager ever," he told Elle in 2009. "So I was, like, auditioning to be their dads. At 25."

In a 2008 interview with GQ, the "Morning Show" star recalled living in a shoddy four-bedroom with various changing roommates for years. According to the publication, the landlady was a former soap star who gave him a pass on rent. In the same interview, Hamm said that he was so strapped for cash that he avoided parking garages, which cost $1.50 per hour at the time, because he only had $5 in his pocket.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a grey suit and fadora
Jon Hamm on "Mad Men."Michael Yarish/AMC

By 2011, a few seasons into "Mad Men," Hamm reportedly signed a three-year deal that would earn him $250,000 per episode by the end of the agreement's term.

But in an era of prequels, sequels, reboots, and revivals — and despite what would probably be a hefty paycheck — Hamm told THR that he's not interested in reprising his "Mad Men" role.

"I'm happy with the way that [the show] lives in my life, and I would love it to stay there," he said.

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