Jon Hamm’s lat­est turn as booze-bro­ken hero

Exclaim! - - SCREENSHOTS - By Vish Khanna

DUR­ING A RIVETING SCENE in Brad An­der­son’s es­pi­onage thriller Beirut, Ma­son Sk­iles en­ters his long-lost friend’s apart­ment. He lurks in dim­ness, ob­scured by bot­tles and fur­ni­ture, which es­tab­lishes a great deal of dis­tance be­tween him and the au­di­ence. It’s an ex­em­plary mo­ment from a film that delves deep into the muck to tell a gritty and grim po­lit­i­cal story.

“In essence, it’s a movie about mys­ter­ies and peo­ple hold­ing back se­crets,” An­der­son ex­plains, “and so the covert na­ture of the story de­served to have a look that was equally shad­owy and dark. Not the bright, sun­lit Mid­dle East that you might be fa­mil­iar with.”

Sk­iles, played by Jon Hamm, is a for­mer U.S. diplo­mat who fled Le­banon af­ter his wife was mur­dered by ter­ror­ists in 1972. A de­pressed al­co­holic, he’s some­thing of a ne­go­ti­a­tion sa­vant, and is re­cruited by gov­ern­ment bu­reau­crats ten years later to aid in the search and res­cue of an old col­league who has been taken hostage by a fringe Pales­tinian ter­ror­ist group. To make mat­ters worse, the ter­ror­ists are led by some­one Sk­iles was once tremen­dously close to.

Bol­stered by a strong cast that in­cludes Rosamund Pike, Dean Nor­ris and Mark Pel­le­grino, Hamm dug into the role in much the same way he did with Don Draper on Mad Men. Both are charis­matic, res­o­lute fig­ures, play­ing through crip­pling pain and pour­ing obliv­ion an­other round of drinks.

“He seems tai­lor-made for these kinds of char­ac­ters,” An­der­son says of Hamm. “Men who have all the pos­si­bil­i­ties to grab life by the horns, but they bat­tle their own in­ner tur­moil. With Beirut, we had this no­tion that this is a bro­ken city that a bro­ken man must re­turn to, to fix him­self. This war-torn city was very much a re­flec­tion of this guy.”

“Hamm seems tai­lor­made for these kinds of char­ac­ters”

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