Pete Campbell is one of Mad Men's most divisive characters, as he's schemed and smarmed his way through four seasons at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Ahead of the series' return this Sunday, we got a chance to chat with Vincent Kartheiser, the man behind Pete Campbell's suit and smirk. Check out what he had to say about Pete's evolution, his favorite costars to work with, and why being drunk on the set is a bad idea.
Do you have any rituals you do to warm up before filming?
Vincent Kartheiser: I used to jump around, scream and curse, and do all kinds of vocal exercises, but I don't really do that anymore. About halfway through last season, I found that none of that helped. I still do it once in a while, just out of habit. I've kind of killed most of my rituals.
Are you interested in a picking up a new ritual? Like shotgunning a beer?
VK: [Laughs] Yeah, no. There's no shotgunning of any beers on the Mad Men set. Contrary to popular belief, acting drunk while being drunk actually doesn't work that well.
Where do you hope Pete ends up at the end of the series?
VK: In the first season, I had all sorts of hopes, and I would sit and project, "Maybe it will be this," or, "Maybe they will send my character here," and a couple of times, I would talk to my friends about it. But I found that all the places that Matthew [Weiner] had brought Pete Campbell were completely unexpected by me. And were actually way more interesting and way more fun to play than any of those things that I had been thinking of. So I stopped having any expectations for my characters.
After such a long hiatus, is there fear among the cast that audiences have gotten over the Mad Men craze?
VK: I don't have fear about that because I know that we have a specific product that is not easily replaced, because it's not a genre; it's not a niche; it's a real story. It's not like we're doing a cop show, and there's a new cop show that everyone's into. It's not like we're even doing an advertising show. We're part of a show that is a specific story, and people have become interested in and intrigued with these characters, not necessarily with the genre or not necessarily with some type of gimmick. It's a story that I think people want to know the end of, and I think we have a group of fans that also aren't your usual television watchers. So it's a group of people that haven't refilled their DVR schedule with whatever is hottest this year, but rather it's people who have sought out our show in particular. We do believe that they will come back, and I also think that they will be rewarded for that, because when Matthew Weiner is given even a few more weeks to write something, it just gets better. And in this case he's been given a few more months. It's a great season. The scripts this year are intense and suspenseful and funny, and it's been a real joy to read and to perform this season, and I just know that the audience is going to be more excited than ever.
To see what Kartheiser had to say about Pete's fatherhood and more, just read more