10 Questions for Jon Hamm

He reprises his role as ad exec Don Draper on AMC's Mad Men July 25. Jon Hamm will now take your questions

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Scott Council / Contour by Getty Images

Is Mad Men really about men or about women?Ellen Speicher, COLUMBUS, OHIO
I'll give a lame answer: both. There are at least three phenomenal female characters on our show in Peggy, Joan and Betty. It's very much about how they are dealing with this world that these men nominally run. I don't think you can have a show about men that doesn't deal with women. But the overarching presences are the men.

Don can be a cad at times. What do you think are his redeeming qualities?Sarah Fisher, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.
You have to understand that Don is an incredibly damaged human being, had a terrible childhood. What he has accomplished, he has accomplished through the strength of his own will and his own ambition. I think that's what resonates throughout the show. It's a constant striving to be better. He fails, and he makes bad decisions. He's not a superhero by any stretch of the imagination.

Do you think Don would be as popular if he had to pay for his crimes, so to speak?Jessica Jones, SYDNEY
I think in many ways Don has had to pay for his crimes. Certainly not in the literal sense, but definitely karmically. His dishonesty with his family and with himself has come back to reap dividends, and not in a good way.

What qualities do you think men lack today that were present in those from the Mad Men era?Octavio de la Torre, PALMDALE, CALIF.
There's a cordialness that men had when dealing with the opposite sex, even when they were being blatantly sexist. It's a weird conundrum. But that's been replaced with men treating women like absolute garbage and not even being polite about it, which is too bad.

What's your view on how the show has dealt with the racial and political issues of the '60s?Leonard Colvin, NORFOLK, VA.
We've dealt with them in an honest way. I've read reviews that take us to task for not having more African Americans or dealing with gay issues or women's issues. And I think that criticism is fundamentally flawed because the show is not a travelogue through the '60s. It's about very specific people in a very specific place at a very specific time. That comes with warts and all.

You have twice hosted Saturday Night Live and guest-starred on 30 Rock. Which do you prefer — dramatic or comedic roles?Janette Benson, DENVER
They're both fun. Believe it or not, it is actually fun to do the hard, emotional, dramatic stuff too. It's part of why I like being an actor.

Has playing Don Draper influenced your personal style?Lyse Garant, DOVER, N.J.
I'm more conscious of what goes into dressing up. My personal style is not quite up to snuff with Mad Men. But the difference between a nice suit and a suit that isn't tailored to fit you is significant. It's very much a statement about a person who's ready to look like he's in control of a situation.

Are you concerned about becoming typecast as Don Draper?Greg Jaghab, TAMPA, FLA.
I think it's more of a concern of just being the guy in the suit in the period piece. It may be hard for other people — as the show becomes more popular — to see me and not see Don. But the challenge of being an actor is being able to create another persona and portray that accurately.

Are those real cigarettes you're smoking on camera?Chris Hollenback, MADISON, WIS.
]They are not. They are a blend of some kind of herbs and spices that burn and look like real cigarettes. But there's no nicotine or tar.

How do you get your hair to stay so perfectly coiffed on the show? I'm trying to replicate it on my husband.Rian Curley, CAMARILLO, CALIF.
Have your husband come into hair and makeup, and they will load it up with about three pounds of hair spray and gel, and it won't move. It is locked down. Crispy.