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Jon Hamm Interview: Tag

Jon Hamm is an American actor best known for playing Don Draper on television drama Mad Men.  He has also starred in Million Dollar Arm, Baby Driver, and provided his voice to the animated film Minions.  Now he plays Bob Callahan in the film Tag which opens June 15, 2018.

Screen Rant had the opportunity to sit down with Jon, where we discussed his motivation for doing the film, the cast’s camaraderie on set, hanging out with his childhood friends, and how he met Noah Hawley, creator of the Fargo television show.

SR: This is super conversational by the way. So it's just more of like-

Jon: Lovely.

SR: Instead of like an interview format. So the one thing that this movie did is exactly what I wanted all movies to do. Walk out, like experiencing something just kind of getting lost in it, which is exactly what I did. It's crazy. You think with a game of tag. I've never heard like fans cheer so much when people are getting tagged. It's crazy to me. So, when you kind of found out about this story, what did you take away from it?  And what got you inspired to wanting to be a part of this?

Jon: Well honestly I read the article it’s based on first, before I read the script. And I was like, “This is really a cool idea.” And I came away from it thinking like, “I'm want to meet those guys. I want to be friends with those guys.” They're just so loose and funny and cool. And what a cool idea. And what a great way to kind of maintain that kind of human connection and friendship and connection to your youth, and your past, and your shared history and all that great stuff. And it was just like, it was all like lovely feelings and then when I read the script and I realize like, “Oh, they're making it like an action movie about this,” which I also thought was just hilarious. Like there's nothing funnier than like a slow speed car chase on the range with like golf carts. And other people are chasing each other and something super slow, clearly like run faster. That's funny to me.  Because it's so absurd and goofy.

But again, the way that the movie lands with its kind of emotional impact of, the emotional weight of the friendship of these guys. And what's really important and, and the fact that Jerry's never been tagged and all this stuff is like, they don’t care about tagging him. They’re just like, “We missed you. Like where you been man. Like, we didn't know you had a problem. We didn't know this. You've been avoiding this because you don’t want to get tagged? Who gives a shit, man. We just want to see our friend.” And he misses it too. Like he realizes that, “Oh man, you’re right. Like, I missed it too. And the joy that everyone experiences including the girls. At the end where we're just sprinting like idiots, you know, you're just, there's some expression of joy that I think the movie really brings that is, I think really needed right now. Like it's, there's no politics in this, there's no cynicism in it. It's just pure fun.

SR:  It's a celebration of friendship, which is what I really took away. And I mean it brought up so many memories for me because when I was in college we played a game called Assassin, which was very-

Jon:  Yeah, Renner too. Renner, used to do that in high school. I was like, that wouldn't fly in high school now.

SR: Yeah, it's a different, a different time now. Was there any kind of like running gag that you guys may have had on set? Because this seemed like so, such a contagious kind of thing.

Jon: It wasn't really, I wouldn't say we have like full of pranks or anything sort of meaningful like that. But we did spend a lot of time together. It wasn't like you call “cut” and then we would go back to their trailers. Like we'd all just go back to the green room and sit down and bullshit with each other. And that was a blast. Like Jake and I were talking about baseball. He's a Cubs fan, I'm a Cardinals fan. And I would talk about whatever. And Isla doing her craziness. And everybody was just sticking around because we all genuinely liked each other's presence. And we had so many scenes that were true ensemble scenes. We’re all, so everyone, and when you're improving it's like, “I'll do that and I'll do this,” you know. It's really like trying to crack each other up. And, you know Hannibal, Hannibal’s stuff was the best because he's just coming from such another angle. And he's so funny and he's so good at it. He knows. He's such a wildly talented comic obviously, but he's also just, he's just funny. And so we just spent a lot of time with one another.

SR: You can tell. The chemistry is amazing. You guys, it just seems like in real life, like you guys had this friendship forever too.

Jon: Well, part of it is I've known a lot of these guys. I worked with Renner obviously and Isla. But I knew Ed and Hannibal and Jake through various things and social connections around the way and I knew that they were all kind of like minded spirits. And so that part was pretty easy to jump in too. It wasn't like the learning curve wasn't that steep.

SR: Is there anything with your childhood friends were you guys may have had like a thing like this? Not necessarily to this extent obviously.

Jon: Well we used to. I've got a really solid group of friends that I've been friends with since we basically were twelve. When we were going through high school and stuff, we'd have sleepovers and bottlerocket fights and you know, all the other nonsense that you get into when your kids. We obviously don't do that anymore. But we do get together whenever we're in the same state. Like the last time I went home, I guess it was a big group of my friends and I, we all went to the St Louis Blues game because they had an outdoor game in St Louis that year. And I learned about it like basically a year in advance and I was like, “Guys, rally. We all need to come to this. I'll get the tickets.” And me and eight of my friends all went to the game and we ended up going to a friend of ours little brother who's now almost forty and he owns a restaurant.  He opened the restaurant for us and cooked pizza for us. And then we went home to their mom's house, mom and dad's house. And they were out doing whatever. And they came back home and the mom started crying. She was like, “This reminds. I feel like it's, I feel like I'm twenty years younger.” Like things could have been 1989. And we looked around and were like, “Yeah, it really could’ve.” We're all like sitting in the same spots. So that part of it is great, you know. I just got an email from all those guys today because it's my friend’s younger brother's birthday. So everybody chimes in, everybody “how you doing,” you know. From around the world. Like my buddy lives in Sydney and another in the Bay area, New York, Chicago. It's great. We live in a world unfortunately now that like everybody “feels” connected. And you get the sense of like, I think it's funny that the movie's called tag in a hashtag world. Like, that kind of virtual connection isn't really connection at all. It's more, feels more of a transactional kind of thing. Like you're competing who has more “likes,” who has more followers. Here's more this, who has more that.  I have zero social media presence. So I feel wonderfully cleansed of all of that. It's a, it is what it is. But the idea of actual physical human connection, I think is another great thing that the movie kind of highlights. It's like, it's important, like it's really important to talk to your friends, like in a real way.

SR: It gives me the sense, because I had the same thing. I have a group of four guys that we called, everyone labeled this as “the clique.” Because we would all just hang out together. And it made me just, because one of them I'm still, I see almost every day I'm really close with one of them. But the other three, like we've all moved from different parts of the world. And it's, it made me just want to be like, “Oh man, I just want to get my guys back in that again.” You know?

Jon: Yeah.  I just went on a rafting trip with two of my friends who, one lives in L.A., one lives in Dallas. And we just, my one friend is like, “My wife's going out of town for the weekend. You want to do something fun?” I was like, “Absolutely. Pick it.” It was like, “Let's go white water rafting.” I was like, “Done.” Three days on the river and we got, we roped another buddy in, didn't have anything to do. And so were like, going through a kind of a hard time. So we were like, “Let's go.”

SR: That's what's so needed now.

Jon: And no cell phones. You can't get any service in the middle of nowhere. So no one was doing this. You're just looking around. “Hey, its was a bald eagle. Holy s***. I've never seen a bald eagle. My God.” You know.  It was really, it was a real good reminder about how to stay present in the physical world in many ways.

SR: Now, you voice-over, switching gears for a second, you voiceover Legion. Which I recently, did not know, which is so cool to me. Because I love that show.

Jon: Yeah, it's a great show.

SR: How did you get connected with that?

Jon: I had met Noah Hawley, who created it, like at a agent party, or an award show, or something, because I was such a massive fan of Fargo. And I literally bumped into him. I was like, “Hey, you're Noah aren't you?” He goes, “Yeah, you're Jon.” And we both were like, “Big fan, you know, kinda like a fan of your work. Me Too. Oh my gosh, that's so cool.” And I just basically like peppered him with questions like, “Oh my God, I love Fargo so much. I can't believe you were able to do that and take this iconic thing and like make it your own, make it better in so many ways and, and then do it again and then do it again. It's totally different ways.” I was like, “That's so cool. I'm such a fan.” And he's like, “Oh thanks man.” And we ended up bumping into each other kind of in that respect.  He lives in Austin. So when I had Baby Driver down there at South By, I just emailed him. I was like, “Hey man, want to come see this movie, it's pretty good. Sure. I've got nothing to do, you know, kids will be in bed.” And I was like, “Come on over.” And we hung out and we started talking about stuff, and I read his book by then, and so more and more stuff. And he just reached out to me and said, “Hey, there's an interesting thing. I don't know if you have any interest in doing it. Would you ever want to do the voiceover?” I was like, “Done.”

SR: Yeah. That's so cool.

Jon: And then the stuff I got, because I hadn't read it, and there was no, didn't exist. And at the stuff I got to read, I was like, “Oh, this is wildly interesting and smart.” And the show is so ambitious and cool. I really dig it.

SR: I love it. And speaking of Noah, I heard that you're working on a project with him. Space.

Jon: Yeah, It's called Pale Blue Dot. It’s me and Natalie Portman and Zazie Beetz. It's going to be great. I have utter confidence in him. And I just think he's the bee’s knees.

SR: That's awesome. Well Jon, thank you for your time.

Jon: Pleasure man.

SR: It's great talking to you.

Jon: Likewise.

MORE: Watch The Tag Movie Trailer

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Jon Hamm Interview: Tag