When I finally nabbed a Male on Monday slot, there could only be one guy to fit the bill (although I did treat myself to a bit of tottie surfing purely for elimination purposes!)
I give you the classically handsome, exquisitely buff and reassurringly mature (sorry, no Zac Efrons or Shia LaBeoufs for me) Jon Hamm.
Now, for those of you who are saying ‘who the hell is he?’ I’m thinking you don’t watch Mad Men.
So first, a brief(ish) description of the series that has made Jon a star (not exactly overnight, but we’ll get to that later) and the character he plays that so captured my imagination.
Set in the early sixties in a Madison Avenue advertising agency, Mad Men is a colour-soaked Douglas Sirk-style drama which explores the dark side of America’s Golden Era.
This is a time and place where men were back-slapping, bourbon-swilling misogynists (or pretending to be), women wore corsetry to work and were still on the wrong end of the women’s lib movement and everyone chain-smoked and had skeletons in their closet.
And in this dog-eat-dog world of repressed passion, tortured desires and overflowing ashtrays, Jon Hamm’s Donald Draper is the smooth, sexist, smoulderingly sexy alpha wolf in the pack.
With his slicked back hair, his bespoke single-breasted suits (think Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair), his beautiful model wife, his many mistresses, his darkly handsome good looks and his corner office, he’s the man’s man that every man in the place aspires to be. But subtext is king in Mad Men and Don has hidden depths and hidden traumas behind that cool, implacable effortlessly smooth exterior.
Don’s a very bad boy indeed — and anyone who’s ever read one of my books knows how much one of those can make my mouth water.
So now we’ve got a handle on Jon’s alter-ego, let’s get a handle on Jon himself.
And straightaway, I discover he’s really a very good actor (all right his Emmy nods and his Golden Globe win were a bit of a clue), because he’s nothing at all like Don Draper. Turns out, unlike Don, his biography just screams excellent husband-and-father material.
Born on 10th March in 1971 in St Louis Missouri (great, not too young), he caught the acting bug at age six playing Winnie the Pooh (big ahhh, there) and eventually won a scholarship to study Theatre at the University of Missouri.
But during those early years his life was marred by tragedy. His parents divorced when he was two and he was brought up by his mum. But she died from cancer when he was only 10. He then had to move in with his distant father who, after a long illness, left him an orphan at 20.
While at college he paid his way by working as a day-care teacher (another great big ahhh) and went on to teach high school (he’s a man who can connect with kids then, or at least keep them in line when necessary), before deciding to pursue a career as an actor.
He struggled for over a decade in Hollywood, working as a waiter, getting bit parts in movies, roles in TV pilots that went nowhere, racking up parking tickets and rent arrears and even got dropped by his agent. But he persevered. He finally landed a recurring role in a TV series called The Division, gave up waiting tables, paid his rent (but not his parking tickets) and at long last got sent the script for Mad Men. He’s typically modest on the subject of landing the part after seven auditions. ‘People really needed convincing that they wanted me.’
In the same interview for the London Observer Magazine he’s also quick to point out that he’s no alpha male like Don Draper. 'I was raised by a single mother and I've been in a 10-year relationship with my girlfriend. My whole life I've been surrounded by women.'
God, I feel yet another Ahhh coming on.
So who is the lucky lady friend? It’s writer and actress Jennifer Westfeldt. Hamm has said when they first met she thought he was ‘a cocky ass****’, but she offered him a part in her movie Kissing Jessica Stein anyway and they’ve been together ever since.
They have dogs instead of kids at the moment but he’s not ruling them out. Although he seems a little iffy on the subject of marriage. ‘We may not have a piece of paper that says we’re husband and wife, but after 10 years, Jennifer is more than just a girlfriend. What we have is much deeper and we both know that.’
Only men ever say daft things like that, don’t they? Okay, maybe we’re talking excellent long-term-boyfriend-and-father material here.
In the Observer interview he comes across as a modest, smart, savvy, sensitive, deep-thinking (but not in a creepy way), chivalrous and frankly gorgeous man. He’s had a lot of hard knocks in his life and he’s more pessimistic and thoughtful because of it, but he’s come out on top.
The interviewer comments at the end that he not only picked up the tab for lunch as if it were perfectly normal (when it’s completely unheard of in Hollywood by an actor being interviewed) but he also gave her a lift home.
Oh, sorry, almost missed his vital statistics. Deep unfathomable brown eyes, dark hair, half an inch over six foot (okay Trish?) and athletically buff (being an enthusiastic golfer, tennis player, swimmer, etc).
Jon was the sinfully sexy dark chocolate spongecake foundation for my hero Luke Devereaux in my latest book Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition — although I did add lots of scrumptious alpha icing on top. Just to add that crucial element of calorific fantasy.
So ladies, I'm totally sold. How about you?
Heidi’s fourth book Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition hit the top spot on the Waldernbooks Series Romance Bestseller list this week and is out now in the US as a Presents.
Her fifth book Hot-Shot Tycoon, Indecent Proposal is due out in June in the UK as a Modern Heat and will be out in September in the US as a Presents.
For more info on her other books, her writing life, her movie nerdiness or whatever hottie she’s currently diligently Googling (strictly for research purposes, of course) check out her blog and/or her website.