What's it like when your long-term boyfriend suddenly becomes one of TV's biggest sex symbols? Actress-writer-director Jennifer Westfeldt, who's been dating "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm for the last 14 years, has a pretty good idea.
"I think women in particular, but probably some men too, have a hard time separating the man from the part. So they think of him as Don Draper or this sex symbol rather than the person that I know him to be, who is a completely different guy," she says in the April issue of GQ.
Not that she doesn't think her handsome Hamm, 41, is incredibly sexy, but … "he also can be shy and humble and goofy. He's not anything like the philandering, dark guy that is Don Draper. I think the fact that the role is iconic sort of gives certain people license to say all kinds of things that no one would say if you knew him," she shares. "That's the trickiest part of this incredible fame that he has deserved, by the way, for so long. I don't understand why it took so many years."
Despite Hamm's spending nearly 15 years "hustling and trying to get great parts," Westfeldt remained an optimistic, encouraging partner.
"I remember network test after network test and being so disheartened and looking at me and saying like, 'I have to get a job.'" she recalls in the interview. "And I'm thinking, 'No it's a no-brainer, it's all going to come together. It's ridiculous, but it just has to be the right thing, and then everything is going to happen. I know it.'"
Everything certainly has come together for Hamm, and with his breakout TV hit, critical acclaim, Golden Globe win, and multiple Emmy nominations, his fame has, ironically, eclipsed Westfeldt's. Though some now see her as "Jon Hamm's girlfriend," the 42-year-old certainly has achieved showbiz success in her own right over the years. She wrote and starred in 2001's cult romantic comedy flick "Kissing Jessica Stein," had recurring roles on hit TV shows like "24" and "Grey's Anatomy," played the lead in the ABC sitcom "Notes from the Underbelly" for two seasons, and has now written, directed, produced and is starring in the new dramedy "Friends With Kids." The film's cast roster reads like a "Bridesmaids" reunion — Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and yes, her main squeeze. The film, which opened this past weekend, has been a labor of love for Westfeldt.
"I think that certainly the past two years I have been working seven days a week on this project," she admits. "I guess there is this cyclical nature to at least my energy as a person and as an artist, where I guess I like to go big or go home. Just give everything to it."
The movie focuses on two friends (played by Westfeldt and "Parks and Recreation" star Adam Scott) who — surrounded by couples starting families — decide to have a baby together despite their platonic relationship. It's an idea that Westfeldt doesn't find all that out-there, actually.
"There are a lot of alternative family arrangements out there and I've seen a lot of them working beautifully. I'm not a parent yet, but I feel like a kid needs to be loved," she explains. "There are worse ways to bring a child into the world than with someone who you've known for 20 years."
In a case of life imitating art, Westfeldt's managers, who happen to be best friends, have gone down the same path. "[They] sat me down a few months after we wrapped the movie and said, 'We have something to tell you. We're having a baby together,'" she explains. "They just had the baby last week. He's happy and healthy, and everybody's delighted and over the moon."
While Westfeldt doesn't address the topic of having children herself in the GQ piece, she does in a recent The New York Times Magazine interview. (It seems when you're a woman in your 40s who's been in a relationship for nearly a decade and half and is promoting a film in which your character has a baby, it's a hard subject to avoid.)
"I've thought about this a lot lately. I never thought I'd be this age and not have kids. But my life has also gone in a million ways I never anticipated," she tells the magazine. "I kept feeling like I'd wake up with absolute clarity, and I haven't. And we have a pretty great life together. The chance that we'll regret it doesn't seem like a compelling enough reason to do it. I may wake up tomorrow with that lightning bolt, and I'll have to scramble to make it happen."
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