Charlie Brooker’s festive feel weird edition of the superb Black Mirror airs on Channel 4 Tuesday 16 Dec at 9.00pm. Jon Hamm, Oona Chaplin and Rafe Spall star in the three interlinked stories that make up White Christmas. Here Jon Hamm talks about how he found out about the series and what it was like working with Rafe and Oona.
So how had you encountered Black Mirror before?
Oddly enough, here in the States there is a channel on Direct TV called The Audience Network. They have some original programming and some stuff that they purchase from other sources. And Black Mirror was one of those acquisitions. My friend Bill Hader, of Saturday Night Live fame, told me I had to watch this show. So I watched it, and I thought it was really, really good. And that’s how it all came together. So I got a meeting with Charlie, and about three days later I flew back to LA, and a couple of days after that I got an email from him, and he said he’d really enjoyed our meeting and he had this character who was meant to be English but didn’t necessarily have to be, and why didn’t we have a go at putting me in this thing? And I said “Why not indeed?” It was a totally serendipitous situation. He couldn’t be a nicer guy, for someone who writes such dark stuff, and it’s a project that I thought was so interesting and unlike anything else I’d come across. And I love working over in the UK. It’s something that I’ve done for the last four years in a row, whether it’s been Todd Margaret or Young Doctors’ Notebook. It’s been lovely. I consider myself very fortunate to have been given these opportunities to come over there.
Did you enjoy the shoot, and working with Oona and Rafe?
I did, I loved it. I didn’t work a tremendous amount with Oona, as will be made clear when people see the show. But I did work with Rafe, and I hung out with Rafe and his wife and had dinner. It was great. I’d only seen him on stage in New York, in Betrayal, with Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig. He was wonderful in it. I got a chance to meet him after the show and say as much, but that was the only time I’d met him. So it was great to get a chance to actually work with him and meet him and his lovely family.
Can you tell, when you’re shooting something, how good it’s going to be? If so, what are your expectations for Black Mirror?
You can only hope. There are so many steps between here and there, it’s a situation where you hope something will be good, and if it’s not, you start pointing fingers! You can believe in the material – no-one sets out to make a terrible TV show, and yet we have quite a few of them out there – so everyone sets off with the best of intentions. But sometimes things happen. There are a lot of moving parts to a television show, especially one that’s very ambitious. That’s why I was so blown away when I first watched Black Mirror. I found it so ambitious, it was trying to achieve so much, and it succeeds. When we shot the pilot of Mad Men, I thought “Well, this is a very good pilot. Let’s hope that everybody that gets their hands on it between here and it going on air doesn’t mess it up.” And thankfully they didn’t.