As Mad Men prepares to draw to a close, its star Jon Hamm is taking on new big-screen challenges. His biggest leading-man movie role to date is in this week's UK release Million Dollar Arm, which opened to warm reviews and soft box office in America in May and is just now expanding worldwide.

Million Dollar ArmJon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm

After making his debut at age 26 as "Gorgeous Guy at Bar" in a 1997 episode of Ally McBeal, Hamm's older appearance made it tricky for him to find work. "I always looked 10 years older than I was," he says. "So I was auditioning to play dads when I was 25." 

His first real break was on the TV series Providence, in which he played a firefighter for 18 episodes in 2001. And after minor roles in other TV series and movies, he finally landed his breakout role as Mad Men's now-iconic Don Draper in 2007 at age 36. 

More: read our review of 'Million Dollar Arm'

Since then, his career has shifted into a much faster gear with scene-stealing appearances on Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, plus beefier roles in movies like The Town, Howl, Bridesmaids and Friends With Kids. He's also cracked into animation, voicing roles in Shrek Forever After, The Congress and The Simpsons.And he starred in the BBC's black comedy series A Young Doctor's Notebook, in which he played the older version of Daniel Radcliffe's title character.

More: is Jon Hamm's 'Million Dollar Arm' the next classic Disney sports movie

Now in the homestretch of his sex-symbol role in Mad Men, Hamm is happy about his late-in-life stardom. "There's no way of telling whether I would have been able to handle early fame or not," he says. "It's a very strange experience to go through. You very much feel like you are looking at yourself from a mile high and it's out of control of your own existence. Especially in the internet and cameraphone era."

And Hamm has plenty to look forward to. He's voicing the villainous Herb Overkill in next year's Despicable Me spin-off The Minions. And he's also lined up to star with Zach Galifianakis in both the comedy-thriller Keeping Up With the Joneses and Richard Linklater's long-gestating remake of The Incredible Mr Limpet.

Watch the trailer for Million Dollar Arm: