Confessions of a Mad Man

John Hamm does Coke in series finale, and other admissions in Q&A with Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times

He has been Don Draper, the singularly suave advertising executive of the 1960s (and early 1970s), whose cool and in-control exterior hid an insecure man unsure of his place in a rapidly changing world. And he has been Dick Whitman, the son of a prostitute mother and an alcoholic father, who saw a chance to create a new life for himself by stealing the identity of another man he accidentally killed in the Korean War.

Now, Jon Hamm is neither of these characters. On Sunday night, his eight-year, seven-season journey on the AMC period drama “Mad Men” came to an end, along with the series itself. The instantly provocative last minutes of the show’s concluding episode, “Person to Person,” found Draper (or was he Whitman?) at the end of a cross-country trek, at an Esalen-like retreat in California, experiencing what looked like some sort of moment of transcendence as a smile unfurled above his lantern-like jaw.

With a final ding, the screen cut to the 1971 Coca-Cola “Hilltop” commercial — a sign that, depending on how you read it, either Draper had found the enlightenment this famous ad was trying to commodify, or was responsible for creating the ad himself.

Freed from the dual responsibilities of Draper and Whitman, Mr. Hamm spoke on Monday evening about the end of “Mad Men,” and what that last sequence meant to him. These are edited excerpts from that conversation  conducted by Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times.