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Before They Were Famous: Jon Hamm in 'Space Cowboys'

Warner Bros.

Nailing a memorable character like Don Draper in "Mad Men" can be a double-edged sword for actors. While those roles come once in a lifetime, the actor risks getting pigeonholed as that character for the rest of his or her career.

To offset that, Jon Hamm has smartly made eclectic choices when it comes to movie roles, with differing fare  like the religious comedy "The Ten," the heist flick "The Town" and now the action-fantasy "Sucker Punch." It all started, though, with "Space Cowboys."

In 1992, Hamm traveled to Hollywood for a visit with longtime pal, Paul Rudd, then a struggling Bat Mitzvah DJ. The trip inspired him to pursue acting and he moved to the City of Angels three years later, but despite representation from industry giant William Morris Agency, he found it nearly impossible to find work because he did not look his age. (As evidenced by the video below, Hamm has looked like a strapping 30-something for the last 15 years.)

After getting dropped by William Morris, Hamm gave himself until the age of 30 to get an acting role or he'd move back to St. Louis. A year before his deadline, he earned a part on the NBC drama series, "Providence," an uncredited cameo in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and one line in the 2000 over-the-hill astronaut comedy  "Space Cowboys," starring Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones.

After that, what would become the signature Draper smirk began winning Jon Hamm roles in films such as "Kissing Jessica Stein," (2001), "We Were Soldiers" (2002) and "Ira and Abby" (2006).

If you saw "Space Cowboys" around the time of its release, don't be surprised if you don't remember Hamm's role as Young Pilot #2. It's a forgettable scene. However, if you've caught the movie channel-surfing recently, you no doubt recognized him immediately.

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