Since the finale, it has remained unclear whether Draper really became a changed man after that last shot on a grassy cliff overlooking the ocean ― or whether the troubled and alcoholic character would soon go back to his old, self-destructive ways.
But during Hamm’s recent appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show,” the host point-blank asked Hamm about Draper’s fate. Although an actor’s interpretation certainly isn’t canon, Hamm’s beliefs about the character offer a knowledgable guess into what happened. And now a couple years from the finale, Hamm was far more candid.
“I don’t think that stuck,” Hamm told Eisen about the supposed epiphany Draper experiences in the final episode. “I don’t think that zen moment of understanding of anything really stuck. That leopard is not changing his spots.”
So that emotional breakthrough he went through really didn’t have any lasting effect?
“I think it was more about, he just had a really good idea for a commercial,” said Hamm. “I root for the best in everyone, but I don’t know about this guy. He was pretty damaged.”
Hamm had actually already talked about his belief that Draper’s main realization did not necessarily involve self-help, but just led to becoming a better ad man.
Here’s what he told The New York Times shortly after the finale aired in 2015:
My take is that, the next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man. And so, this thing comes to him. There’s a way to see it in a completely cynical way, and say, “Wow, that’s awful.” But I think that for Don, it represents some kind of understanding and comfort in this incredibly unquiet, uncomfortable life that he has led.
When asked where he thought Draper was “right now,” Hamm joked, “six feet under,” and then continued, “He’d be in his 80s and there ain’t no way that guy’s getting to his 80s without a massive lifestyle shift.”