Vincent Kartheiser reflects on Mad Men, 89.3 The Current, and himself
In this week's issue of City Pages, we profile Minneapolis native Vincent Kartheiser, the actor who plays Pete Campbell on AMC's Mad Men.
We met up with Kartheiser at Bryant-Lake Bowl in April, just a few months after AMC finished filming the much-anticipated fifth season of the show, to talk about everything from Pete Campbell, to dropping out of high school, to 89.3 The Current.
Here's Kartheiser's take on a few subjects that didn't make print:
Vincent Kartheiser on L.A. vs. Minneapolis:
"L.A. kind of does this thing to me where there's so many people and so many activities. I have a reaction to it, where it keeps me more isolated, more reclusive in that type of environment. So when I come to Minnesota, I feel generally more healthy. The air is better. The people are kinder. People really listen to you when you talk here, and I find that I listen more when other people talk here."
On being a famous actor:
"Most people [who become actors] don't really want to be actors. They just want all the things that come with being an actor, which is funny because those are by far the shittiest things about being an actor. Like, really. Without a doubt. And everyone would agree with you...Like the things people might think they want is notoriety, fame, or a lot of money. None of that makes you happy."
"I never really have been [religious], but I've been opening up to some things in my life recently. I guess you could say that I believe we have a soul. I don't pretend to know anything about what comes after life. But I've had experiences in my own life that -- I guess if you believe in any sort of faith or plan, you believe in God, right? So whatever that God is, I have no idea. I think religion can do good stuff. I mean, there are a lot of Catholic hospitals."
On 89.3 The Current:
"It's lots of music I like from the good 'ole days, and there's a lot of music I've never heard before that makes me go home and Google it. That's pretty rare... It's very rare that you run into a channel that you can listen to pretty much all day. At least I can listen to it from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, and pretty much like 98 percent of the music that I hear."
"I like TV. TV gives you an opportunity to really explore a character for years and years and years, which is great. And the character grows and changes, which is different than doing a play for years and years."
On Mad Men at the beginning:
"We knew the writing was great, we knew how it looked. The costumes and the sets, they looked great to us. You never know how the critics and the general public will react. And we're thrilled because, you know, so often these sorts of great pieces fall through the cracks."
On dropping out of high school:
"It just felt like the system was kind of broken. I never felt protected by my teachers. I felt thrown under the bus. As, like, a nerd in school I always felt like the teachers were in the cool-kids crowd, and they would offer me up as like a lamb for the slaughter. I don't know, just that age of kids are so fucking mean, so I was happy to leave for that reason."
"I don't know if I want people to know anything about me. Part of your job as an actor is walking that fine line between letting people know who you are, and keeping the mystery of yourself still big enough that they want to go watch you on the big screen. And I also don't want people to know too much about me because I'd rather they see Pete Campbell when they see me, instead of Vincent Kartheiser. Because that's my job, to be Pete Campbell."
On his approach:
"A big part of being an actor is not giving a shit. I think a lot of people would disagree, and say a big part is caring a lot about that kind of thing, but I would say it's the exact opposite. For me, that's when I'm able to be fearless. If you don't care if you're handsome, if you don't care if it's a flattering look, or if it's a flattering character, that's when you're able to be fearless. Once you're able to get rid of those worries, those immediate insecurities. I'm not rid of them, but I've learned to disregard them. And it's easier to disregard all of them than pick and choose a few. So I've just chosen to disregard all of them, and its made me an unattractive and sad little man."
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