For the first time since Mad Men entered our consciousness, Jon Hamm is in need of a date to the Emmys.
The 12-time career nominee (not including producing credits on the AMC series) and partner Jennifer Westfeldt announced on Labor Day that they had split up after 18 years together, the end of an era for yet another one of Hollywood's most enduring couples.
For the most part, they also had to be one of the least dramatic duos, with neither making any particular non-work-related headlines that raised any eyebrows...
Until this year, that is.
In fact, once Hamm went public (or as public as was necessary to come clean but keep the press off his back) with his issues, it didn't take long for speculation to start that their relationship wasn't long for this world.
First off, Hamm and Westfeldt had the benefit of flying pretty much entirely under the radar for their first decade together. Westfeldt was actually the talent we knew about first, from 2001's indie sleeper Kissing Jessica Stein (which Hamm was in too, who knew?!) She also had a major guest arc on 24 back when Mad Men was still largely a niche show that was inspiring the cool '60s-fashion revival. (Seriously, Hamm won his only Golden Globe in 2008, during the Writers' Guild strike, so the ceremony was just a sad half-hour reading of a winners list. It was not fair.)
20th Century Fox
But then Mad Men eventually became pretty much everything as far as quality television-meets-major pop culture happening is concerned, and then who Jon Hamm was with, romantically, became capital-I Important.
And still, though writers couldn't get enough of the "Who Is Jon Hamm and Is He Anything Like Don Draper?" conversation, the world at large was pretty respectful of his personal life.
There were some questions, such as why they weren't, um, for lack of a better word...married.
"I have a lady, she's a great lady," Hamm has been widely quoted as saying in a 2007 interview (the year Mad Men premiered, aka when the hoi polloi first started to care deeply about his love life). "I love her a lot, she loves me. We're on the same page. Whenever that day happens when we're not on the same page, we'll move forward with it. We're interested in having our lives be our lives right now and not a third person's vis-a-vis marriage and whatever that means."
OK, so at the same time he also sorta predicted that they might not be together forever, but no one was looking for clues then. It wasn't even for a year or so that "Hey, guess what? The star of Kissing Jessica Stein has been dating Jon Hamm forever!" became a thing.
But as Mad Men started to take its place in the pantheon, a picture of Hamm's outlook on relationships started to emerge.
The relentlessly handsome actor told The Guardian in 2008, "I don't necessarily want kids. A lot of our friends are having children and I don't know if it's for me. I haven't come down hardcore on either side of the argument. I think when people come from a stable family having children becomes a celebration and I'm not sure it would be that way for me."
(He also said in that interview, "My dad was in many ways essentially Don Draper," so there you go.)
He and Westfeldt had just marked 10 years together and "had a blast" celebrating in Mexico, he also told the U.K. paper. "We very much complement each other in this insane industry. We live and we work it out together. It's been great." Asked further about his overall happiness level (career, personal, etc.), he added, "I have a pretty stable relationship that brings me love and happiness and comfort. I have a great house and a great dog."
In 2010, Hamm told Parade about his relationship, "I don't have the marriage chip, and neither of us have the greatest examples of marriages in our families. But Jen is the love of my life, and we've already been together four times longer than my parents were married."
Asked about the possibility of expanding their family, the actor indicated that his thoughts on that hadn't changed over the years: "I like kids but I also like the option to close the door. Becoming a parent is a whole other life, and it doesn't stop," he said.
Westfeldt wrote, directed and co-starred with Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott in Friends With Kids, about that very conundrum and what it does to the adult half of the equation.
Talking about the film with Vulture in September 2011, Westfeldt was of course asked if she and Hamm had any plans for kids in real life. "It's funny—we're certainly not opposed," she said. "I guess, it's definitely…Our lives have been so crazy the past few years. We've been working on separate coasts a lot. I was doing a play; Jon was doing Mad Men. I think you have to be ready to be in one place if you're going to embark on that. We'll see what the future brings."
Then in a March 2012 sit-down with The New York Times, Westfeldt reportedly got emotional when talking about having children of her own.
"I've thought about this a lot lately. I never thought I'd be this age and not have kids," the then-42-year-old filmmaker-actress said. "But my life has also gone in a million ways I never anticipated.
"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. You were wondering how we make it work. One way is we're really mobile. No one's had to give up an opportunity they really wanted."
Could it be that they were facing down a deal-breaker issue already several years ago?
Moreover, Hamm was by then officially a super-star, and life had definitely changed for the couple's everyday routine as a result of his in-demand status.
"It's disingenuous to say you don't know that's a possibility if you've got überfame, which is what he does, but at the same time, you really don't know what it's going to be like," Westfeldt also told the NYT regarding the increased fan and paparazzi presence around her man. "People want to see him wherever he goes. You can't do anything about it...Our dog, on the other hand, deals with it very well."
And then, as Mad Men mania (not to mention the wow-he's-funny-too?! revelation, thanks to 30 Rock and other quirky ventures) reached full throttle, his I-already-feel-married comments started to sound just a touch more tired than matter-of-fact.
On they chugged, however, but fast-forward to this past March.
Hamm had checked into treatment for alcoholism, the news not breaking until just days before the premiere of the second half of Mad Men's final season, when he was already out and about again. A statement released by his rep said that he had completed rehab "with the support of his longtime partner Jennifer Westfeldt."
"People around him have known for a while about his problem with alcohol," a source told E! News at the time. "In the last few years, he has seemed sad." Since treatment, "he's doing well now and appears to be much happier."
"Life throws a lot at you sometimes, and you have to deal with it as much as you can," Hamm told Australia's TV Week a day later. "I've been very fortunate that throughout the most recent 24-hour period, I've had a lot of family and friends support me."
Westfeldt said in the April issue of GQ, featuring her guy on the cover, that the end of Mad Men had hit him hard. "It's a confusing juxtaposition," she explained. "I think the darkness of Don has weighed heavily on Jon, despite it being the role of a lifetime and the opportunity that gave him the career of his dreams. The end was of course bittersweet and complicated for Jonny. But I know that when he wrapped the show in L.A., in the wee hours of July 3 last year, and then immediately got on a plane to New York to meet me and our dog, Cora, for dinner with a few close friends and to watch the fireworks, he felt a predominant sense of relief. He remarked on the cosmic coincidence of the date: Independence Day. Finally."
Seemingly days later, they were the target of split rumors. They slammed one such tabloid story in early April...but seeing the tale, however far-fetched at first, in print is never a good sign.
The last public sighting of Hamm, 44, and Westfeldt, 45, together was in late July, when they attended the New York premiere of Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.
Maybe it was already over, and they were just together-as-always, remaining supportive of each other as their breakup statement later vowed they would. Really, who knows how long ago it was that they already knew that their relationship—which did indeed resemble a marriage more than most Hollywood marriages these days—was nearing its conclusion after one hell of a run.
The lightning bolt must have struck, although it's hard to tell which of them it actually hit in the end.
Hamm is now nominated for two Emmys, one his last shot at the Best Actor statue for playing Don Draper and the other for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy from his hirsute appearance in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. We wouldn't even be surprised if, win or lose, Westfeldt is in on the after party.