Jon Hamm and Taraji P. Henson Have a Connection Dating Back Decades

Jon Hamm and Taraji P. Henson are two of Hollywood’s hardest working actors. The two put in years of work in smaller roles before their big breaks on TV shows such as Mad Men and Empire. And their similar career trajectories isn’t the only thing they have in common.

Jon Hamm acted for years before he landed ‘Mad Men’

Before his big break as advertising executive Don Draper in Mad Men, Hamm was a Los Angeles-based actor trying to work his way up the Hollywood ladder. He even appeared on the dating show The Big Date.

Throughout the late ’90s and early ’00s, Hamm appeared in several walk-on roles in many beloved shows. On Ally McBeal, he had an uncredited role as a good-looking guy at a bar. He had guest spots on Gilmore Girls and CSI: Miami, and was on Charmed and Numb3rs in the months before his Mad Men debut.

Taraji P. Henson worked several jobs before becoming an actor

Henson similarly put in years of work in smaller roles before she got her big break. She had small guest roles on shows such as ER, Sister, Sister, and Saved by the Bell: The New Class. Her first big movie role was alongside Snoop Dogg and Tyrese Gibson in 2001’s Baby Boy, and she played opposite her future Empire husband Terrence Howard in 2005’s Hustle & Flow.

Before she became an actor, however, Henson worked several other jobs to put food on the table. “I put myself through college,” Henson told Vanity Fair in 2009. “I worked at the Pentagon during the early part of the day, the middle part of the day I went to school full-time, and at night I was a singing-dancing waitress on this small dinner cruise called the Spirit of Washington.”

Henson’s dinner cruise days remain some of her most cherished memories. She even shared a throwback photo on Instagram of herself singing on the dinner cruise one night. “#TBT to when she used to be a singing/dancing waitress on the Spirit Of Washington dinner cruise,” Henson said. She even laughed at her admittedly heavy makeup at the time: “I used to be heavy-handed on the brows.”

Interestingly enough, Hamm also worked as a waiter while he was auditioning for roles early in his career.

Jon Hamm and Taraji P. Henson worked together early in their careers

Unsurprisingly, as two actors starting out in Hollywood, Hamm and Henson crossed paths almost two decades ago. In 2002, they both joined the cast of the police procedural The Division and remained main characters for the show’s final three seasons.

Hamm played quick-thinking police officer Nate Basso, while Henson plays an officer named Raina Washington. By the show’s final season, Basso and Washington became partners, working together to fight crime wherever it arises.

Both Hamm and Henson went on to have illustrious careers, and even both earned Golden Globes in 2016 — Hamm for Mad Men, Henson for Empire. And when Hamm won an Emmy for his iconic role the year before, Henson couldn’t contain her excitement in an Instagram post.

“Sooooooooooo happy for my friend and first TV cop partner on The Division, Jon Hamm!!!!! Who remembers that!!!!!” Henson said, adding, “All is well in the world!”

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