Most viewers know Jon Hamm for his role as the mysterious Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men. Others may remember him from his two well-regarded hosting stints on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (May we interest you in some Hamm and Buble?).
Wednesday night, Hamm will get to show off the sports fan side of him when he hosts the 21st Annual ESPY Awards, which air live at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
“It’s an opportunity to do something fun about something that I’m passionate about,” said Hamm during a conference call with the media last week.
While Hamm is eager to show off his sports chops, he knows the night isn’t about him. “The main thing is celebrate what these incredible people have done,” he said. “It’s certainly not going to be the Jon Hamm show.”
That doesn’t mean Hamm won’t be a major focus of the show. Like most award shows, the ESPYs features a number of humorous pre-taped segments with athletes and Hamm promises this year will be more of the same.
“We got a pretty good turnout,” he said. “Athletes are desperate to crack each other up and make fools of themselves.”
While he said he can take things away from his two turns as SNL host, Hamm stressed that hosting something like the ESPYs provides its own set of unique challenges. “Hosting an award show is not like hosting Saturday Night Live.”
Maura Mandt, the show’s executive producer, however, is not worried. “Jon is a perfect fit for this,” she added during the call. “He’s a die-hard sports fan.”
During the call, Hamm was asked if his career-making role on Mad Men has helped him delve into other avenues such as sports. He explained it was more of a double-edged sword due his hectic work schedule, though it allowed for some bonding time with one of his Mad Men costars.
The Missouri-born Hamm, a noted St. Louis Cardinals fan, had to watch his team’s epic come-from-behind (twice) win over the Texas Rangers in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series during filming breaks on the Mad Men set. He said that he and Jay Ferguson (who plays Sterling Cooper’s art director Stan Rizzo) were running back and forth to catch the game in Ferguson’s — who is a big Rangers fan — trailer.
“Unfortunately my work schedule has prevented me from going to and seeing the last few World Series wins by my Cardinals,” he said.