Jon Hamm's trick to playing Don Draper on Mad Men

Mar 22, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. ET

What's it like to play Don Draper on Mad Men? Drinking all day and rolling around with actresses all night can be "tiring" but Jon Hamm shares how it's all possible.

Jon Hamm's Mad Men trickAfter four Emmy award-winning seasons of Mad Men -- with a fifth season to begin this Sunday on AMC -- it's hard to believe that the actors aren't affected by the drama of their characters. The show's leading man Jon Hamm sat down with Marlo Thomas to answer key questions about playing Don Draper.

"Is it ever difficult or tiring to play Don?" she asked him. "Does his demeanor linger on you after you're [done] filming for the day?"

"Acting is certainly not the hardest job in the world -- it's not construction or iron smelting, but it can be mentally exhausting and you have to maintain focus for a long time," he answered. "It can be emotionally exhausting as well."

Hamm revealed Matthew Weiner's rigorous filming schedule. "The way we shoot the show is 13 shows, back to back to back. It takes us about five and a half months, and we don't have breaks," explained Hamm. "We don't have weeks off, no."

And Don Draper isn't exactly an inherently easy character to play. "It can be tiring. By the end of the season, I'm usually pretty wiped out."

However, Hamm revealed the secret to filming such a dark show -- offscreen time that brings back the light.

"I don't take it home with me -- or, I try not to take it home with me. Part of that is that we have a really great crew that's stuck with us for the whole run, the majority of them have. And we're all pretty good friends. So when the camera's not rolling, it lightens up significantly."

Photo credit: AMC

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