Dave Karger
February 24, 2012 AT 05:00 AM EST

Jennifer Westfeldt may be best known as the woman who gets to hold Jon Hamm’s arm on the red carpet, but she was an accomplished actress and screenwriter in her own right long before Hamm ever slipped into Don Draper’s stunning suits. The 42-year-old Yale University grad had recurring roles on Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place and Judging Amy before co-writing the comedy Kissing Jessica Stein, which earned her an Independent Spirit nomination in 2003. More recently she starred in the ABC comedy Notes From the Underbelly. She and Hamm have been together for 15 years but have never married, and their real-life experiences inspired Friends With Kids. ”In the past four or five years, Jon and I have seen our coupled friends have babies,” she says. ”It’s definitely interesting to experience being out of sync with your peer group. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep the one-on-one friendships exactly as they were because so much of your friends’ lives becomes kid-centric. It’s hard to find the grown-up time that you crave.” Westfeldt, marking her first stint as a filmmaker, insists it wasn’t awkward directing her offscreen love, whom she calls Jonny. ”He’s been in all my movies, and we’re producing this together as well,” she says. ”It didn’t feel tricky, because we were both so invested in the project. And the figure he cuts, and how he holds the screen, it’s exciting to see!”

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