"I had to sleep with the director, unfortunately. Listen, I'll leave a little dignity on the floor," says Jon Hamm, who plays a beleaguered, hard-drinking father in the comedy Friends With Kids, in theaters Friday.
The filmmaker in question happens to be Hamm's longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Westfeldt, who directed, wrote, produced and starred in the film. She plays a Manhattan singleton who gets pregnant by having a one-night stand with her best friend (Adam Scott). The ensemble film also stars Hamm and Kristen Wiig as a couple and Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd as another couple, all balancing children with various degrees of marital difficulties.
For Westfeldt, the film feels like her own offspring. "It's like a baby. I hope the other kids at school are nice. You never know," she says, although reviews have been positive.
Perhaps that's because the movie, for all its cute moments, reflects the reality of what happened within Hamm and Westfeldt's circle of friends as more of them became parents.
"We realized we didn't have anything to talk to these people about. You're like, 'Remember college, work, life, the house?' So is Jeremy's feeding schedule bumming you out? You might as well be speaking Japanese. Want to talk about sports or weather?" says Hamm, 40.
"It's understandable because that is your life for a couple of years. It's not my jam, but I don't judge it."
Westfeldt ran plot points and script changes past her mom friends to check for authenticity. She and Hamm said in separate interviews that they were both drawn to the subject matter, although they don't see parenthood in their immediate future.
"I understand viscerally the sacrifices and the choices one goes through when you choose to have a child," Hamm says. "I've seen it with friends. I've seen it in family. I don't think it's a decision that's the wisest for me. I'm not ruling it out. If something happens and a kid comes into our lives, we'll work that out, obviously."
Westfeldt says she always imagined she'd end up a mother herself. But she's a professional nomad and can't imagine dragging a child from film set to film set.
"Your life goes in directions you never have planned," says Westfeldt, 42. "We have a much less traditional lifestyle than most, being globe-trotting and bicoastal. Not so geographically stable. We love the kids that are in our lives, our friends' kids. If we're lucky enough to have that happen in an organic way, or a non-traditional way down the road, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We're pretty happy as we are."
Procreation, and its consequences, had resonated with Westfeldt for a while as a possible movie subject. She began working on the script years ago, tinkering with it, until she finally sat down and finished it. From the start, she wanted her life partner in the film but never as her on-screen love.
"Too weird, I think. Yeah. It's distracting," she says. "There's so much baggage that goes with that."
Hamm and Westfeldt instead settled on the perfect role. "Some people are like, he's such an (expletive) in the movie," Westfeldt says. "I don't see it that way. He's unhappy. He's in pain. Jon has a darkness that is so compelling. He can make you feel that pain."
Westfeldt, who broke through in 2001's Kissing Jessica Stein, is bubbly and loquacious in person. Hamm, too, is easygoing, unaffected and self-effacing. He and Westfeldt have a rule for dealing with fame: "Just be a human being," Hamm says. "Don't be a (jerk) no one wants to talk to."
Of course, being Hamm's better half now that he's the country's reigning dreamboat brings its own set of media questions for Westfeldt, which she recites with bemused resignation.
"What's the secret to your longevity? I don't know. We love each other. I don't know what to say. There's no good answer. I don't think there are secrets. Relationships require focus and commitment and constant communication.
"I don't think we're different from anyone else. I don't know what to say when people are like, 'Every woman is so jealous.' Should I say, 'I'm sorry'?"