Over the past eight years, Jon Hamm has gained legions of fans for his portrayal of anti-hero Don Draper on Mad Men.
Last month, the star sought treatment for alcohol addiction, and a source tells PEOPLE Hamm, 44, has more in common with his character than people may think.
According to a source, the actor – whose mother died when he was 10 years old – is a complicated person. “He lost his mother at a really young age and grew up without that type of figure in his life,” says the source.
In 2010, he opened up about his struggle with depression after the death of his father at the age of 20 (his parents divorced when he was just a toddler).
“I was … unmoored by that,” he told The Observer about his father’s death. Left “in bad shape,” Hamm turned to therapy and antidepressants to beat the illness.
“It gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral,” he said. “It helps.”
The constant presence of longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt, 45, has also helped “keep him in line,” says the source.
“He needs [Jennifer],” says the source of the stability that the actress brings. “He has to have that in his life.”
The specter of Don Draper, Westfeldt says, also continues to loom large over Hamm.
“It’s a confusing juxtaposition,” the actress said in GQ‘s latest cover story, featuring Hamm. “I think the darkness of Don has weighed heavily on Jon, despite it being the role of a lifetime and the opportunity that gave him the career of his dreams.”
Known in Hollywood as the “kind of guy who always remembers your name and makes small talk with the assistants,” according to the source, Hamm opened up to PEOPLE last year about dealing with fame.
“It’s nice that people tell you ‘I like what you do,’ ” he said of his fans, many of whom offer him drinks because of his character on the show. “All that part of it is adorable, but at a certain point, I can’t drink that much scotch! You have to manage your life in the only way you know how in a respectful and proper way.”
• With reporting by GILLIAN TELLING and AILI NAHAS