HitFix

Interview: ‘Mad Men’ star Vincent Kartheiser discusses a maturing Pete Campbell

By now, you’ve probably read Denise Martin’s Vulture interview with a wonderfully animated Vincent Kartheiser, in which the “Mad Men” star shared his opinions on Twitter and bill-shredding, while also flicking paper footballs at his interrogator. 
I had a different kind of interview with Kartheiser. In our conversation, the “Angel” veteran talks about Pete Campbell’s development from Don Draper’s dangerous wunderkind adversary to his current incarnation, a differently discontented man with a receding hairline, a double-chin and a growing realization that he’s no longer the youngest man in the room. 
Kartheiser talked about how his own maturation process hasn’t always mirrored Pete’s and he discussed a physical transformation that includes shaving back that hairline.
Throughout the interview, Kartheiser was tearing pieces of paper into one-inch-wide strips and the ripping sounds are frequently audible on my recording. It was only after hearing my colleague’s story that I realized those strips were likely nascent paper footballs. 
No projectiles were aimed in my direction. But I think it’s an interesting interview anyway…
HitFix: Last season felt like a transitional year for Pete. He went from being the Young Guy in the Room, one everyone thought was a prodigy, to suddenly realizing that he wasn’t that guy anymore, that he was actually just another guy in the room. Was that an interesting shift to get to play?
Vincent Kartheiser: Yes. And it was quite interesting because there was also that happening in my own life. My entire career, I’ve always been the youngest guy in the room. Or most of my career, having started acting at six. And also, when you would go into bars and talk to girls or things like that and I started realizing part-way through the season that I would be in a bar talking to a girl and they’re like, “Ha-ha. This is really creepy” and looking at the younger guys and I’d be like, “Oh wow. I’m like this old, creepy man to her.” And I started noticing when I would go to different places work-wise for auditions or to different sets or to interviews or events, I’m just another thirtysomething actor. You’re a known entity at that point. They’re no longer looking to you and wondering what *can* you do, but more what *have* you done. 
And for Pete Campbell, he has done some things. But I think it doesn’t feel like enough. He’s not so satisfied with being that guy. I’m OK with it. He’s not so satisfied. That’s what the whole thing with that young girl in his driver’s ed school thing was about, it’s about needing to be with youth. And then he also has this need to be the Boss Man and those are two conflicting ideas. By the end of last season, I think he’s kinda resigned himself to the older generation.
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