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Jon Hamm Would ‘Love to Play James Bond’ — and ‘Confess, Fletch’ Makes the Case

The "Mad Men" star leads a snappy heist comedy from "Superbad" director Greg Mottola, making a case for 007 as a dopey American lush.

Jon Hamm in "Confess, Fletch"

Jon Hamm in “Confess, Fletch”

Robert Clark

Jon Hamm’s latest big screen character has a lot in common with James Bond: He’s witty, great with the ladies, and comes doused in a signature drink. (In this case a more colorful classic, the Negroni.) A drink says a lot about a person, and the same goes for fictional characters. Whereas James Bond is dry and sharp like a martini, the easygoing charmer at the heart of “Confess, Fletch” is a little sour, a little sweet, and unafraid of a little flamboyance.

The comparison is not lost on Hamm.

“There’s very much some shared DNA there, for sure. It’s a series of stories. He’s sort of placed in different environments and conundrums and finds himself constantly on the wrong side of the law sometimes and has to use his wits and his wilds to get out. He doesn’t have the budget that maybe James Bond has for gadgets, but he does have his wits and his incredible ability to read a room,” Hamm said during a recent interview with IndieWire.

He added winkingly, “And while we’re at it, sure. I’d love to play James Bond. Thank you for asking.”

Based on a series of mystery novels by Gregory Mcdonald, the character of Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher was first dramatized by Chevy Chase in the 1985 box office hit “Fletch.” (A successful sequel, “Fletch Lives,” followed in 1989.) The role was a dream for Hamm, who “loved the original film,” leading him to seek out its source material.

“I started reading the books as a little kid. I mean, like a teenager, like a very young kid. So it’s an exciting opportunity to get the chance to really reintroduce a character to a brand new generation,” said Hamm.

“Confess, Fletch” begins with an art theft, a murder, and a kidnapping, and that’s just in the first act. As Fletch likes to say throughout the film, he once was “a journalist of some repute,” giving him keen investigative instincts and a way with words.

Tasked with recovering his girlfriend’s stolen Picasso in order to save her father while proving his innocence, Fletch uses good, old-fashioned cunning to unravel the mystery. It’s a whodunit comedy with some silly twists and satisfying turns, a fun, uncomplicated ride that feels particularly of the moment.

“[‘Knives Out’] kind of sparked this renaissance of the mystery and the whodunit,” said Hamm. “Our film is a beneficiary of that as well, but you see it in ‘Only Murders in the Building’ and ‘Death on the Nile,’ and all of this kind of revisiting of these mysteries that are truly compelling because they’re really satisfying to watch.”

While it may be mostly light-hearted entertainment, Hamm sees a deeper reason for that cultural need.

“If I’m going into the cultural analysis of it, we live in a time where a lot of people don’t necessarily have to pay for their misdeeds,” he said. “It’s nice to actually watch a story where the bad guy gets it in the end or somebody that deserves a happy ending gets it. We’re inundated in real life with stories where the bad guy gets away with it, or there’s no consequences for attacking The Capitol, for example, without putting too fine a point on it, but these are fun escapist stories that people can actually lean into.”

Hamm got to play off an enviable ensemble of comedic actors in “Confess, Fletch,” or what he referred to as “a very deep bench.” Marcia Gay Harden, Roy Wood Jr., Annie Mumolo, and Kyle MacLachlan all appear to be having just as much fun as Hamm. But there was one collaborator that “Mad Men” fans will be particularly excited to see Hamm riff with: John Slattery.

“Whenever you have people on screen that have a history that’s longer than a few years, that have some depth to their relationship, that comes across,” he said. “I think it certainly comes across with us. It was very easy to get back into a rhythm. It was very fun to play two very different characters than Don and Roger also.”

“Confess, Fletch” opens in theaters and on digital on Friday, September 16.

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