'Mad Men' star Hamm ditches suave for macabre in 'Young Doctor'

Reuters

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Jon Hamm's new TV role takeshim far from the stylish 1960s Madison Avenue setting of "MadMen" to a dreary, isolated and bloody hospital in a smallRussian village during the 1917 revolution.

The backdrop for "A Young Doctor's Notebook," a four-episodeseries that makes its U.S. debut on Wednesday on the Ovationcable network, is not a typical one for television, and the showdoes not fit neatly into a particular genre. Hamm said he likedthe project for both of those reasons.

"It's dark, and yet it's quite comic," Hamm told Reuters."It's fantastical in many ways, and macabre in many ways."

"It's very British," he added. "That's probably the best wayto say it. I like that they take risks over there."

"Young Doctor's Notebook" was filmed in London and broadcastin 2012 on British network Sky Arts. Ovation, a cable networkavailable in about 50 million U.S. homes, picked up U.S. rightsfor the first season.

Hamm, best known for his Emmy-nominated role as thebrilliant-yet-troubled ad man Don Draper in "Mad Men," stars asthe older version of the doctor, a figure who advises and tauntshis younger self, an overwhelmed recent graduate played by"Harry Potter" actor Daniel Radcliffe.

The show is based on a collection of short stories byRussian author Mikhail Bulgakov. Radcliffe and Hamm are bothfans of Bulgakov's writing.

In the TV series, the character Hamm plays is addicted tomorphine and under investigation by the Soviet secret police. Hefinds a notebook filled with writings about his experiences 17years earlier that he uses to narrate the story of his youngerself.

Radcliffe portrays the fresh Moscow medical school graduatesent to tend patients at the small, rural hospital. Hamm'scharacter appears to coach him - or to smirk at his naivete. Theolder and younger selves played by Hamm and Radcliffe appear inseveral scenes together, including one in a bathtub.

The younger doctor panics at having to pull a tooth oramputate a limb, with blood spattering by the buckets aroundhim. While the show has some "gruesome horror elements," Hammsaid, "we hope it has some emotional resonance" as a story about"a guy dealing with his demons."

Looking ahead, Hamm is preparing to film the final season of"Mad Men," which will run on the AMC cable network intwo parts in 2014 and 2015. He said he has not fully mapped outhis career plans beyond "Mad Men."

Hamm will appear in a second season of "Young Doctor'sNotebook." In May, he will star on the big screen in the WaltDisney Co movie "Million Dollar Arm" in which he plays asports agent who stages a contest in India to find cricketplayers who he can turn into Major League Baseball stars.

One role Hamm is not expecting to play is superhero. "As hasbeen pointed out by quite a few people on the Internet, I'm notquite built like a superhero," he said.

"If there is a superhero whose super ability is sort ofsitting on a couch, then maybe," he joked. "Like he's reallygood at sitting on the couch, like he's Couch Man! Maybe I coulddo that."

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