No win during Sunday’s Emmys got as rousing of an applause as Jon Hamm‘s first ever prize for Mad Men. The actor, nominated for playing Don Draper for the eighth time, became the first from his celebrated Emmy series to win at the show.
Speaking backstage afterwards, Hamm acknowledged that he had a lot of industry goodwill on his side going into the show — though it didn’t seem to hit him until he was on stage, after he jokingly straddled the platform instead of walking up the stairs. “It was a very odd experience,” he said. “After I made my hilarious joke of climbing on the stage the way I chose to, I turned around and realized people were clapping for me. I was mortified.”
As for the previous seven losses, Hamm insisted that the streak never got him down. “There’s so many incredible people and incredible work that has been raised above my own,” he said, name-checking recent winners Damian Lewis, Jeff Daniels, Kyle Chandler and Bryan Cranston. “It’s not like they gave it to some guy off the street — and that’s not anything against Billy on the Street. He’s wonderful.”
Speaking about the end of the show, Hamm admitted that working on Mad Men had its difficult moments. “Playing a character for that long is a blessing and curse,” he said. “It’s a dream job in many ways, but it doesn’t come without a cost. There’s a lot of mental and emotional baggage that gets torn through and weighs on you after a while … I put a lot of hard work into this, and a lot of my own time and effort. It’s really nice to have it be recognized as much as it has been.”
Mad Men won the top drama race for four consecutive years — but prior to Sunday, none of its many nominated actors (Elisabeth Moss, John Slattery, Christina Hendricks) ever took home a trophy. The Emmys capped off what’s been a rather long goodbye tour for the series, though it (and Hamm) will be eligible for one more go at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes.