There are just four more days until Mad Men returns to AMC after an excruciatingly long 17-month wait. We here at TV.com have been celebrating the show’s homecoming with The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, which is winding to a close this Thursday. We’ve also landed a series of interviews with some of the stars of the series—Roger Slattery, January Jones, and Vincent Kartheiser—as well as a sit-down with the creative genius behind the entire endeavor, Matthew Weiner. So keep your eyes peeled as we roll those out in the next few days, as they contain tons of insights, laughs and hints on what’s to come in Season 5.
We’ll kick things off with our chat with Vincent Kartheiser, who plays the peevishly ambitious Pete Campbell, now a junior partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. You might not immediately recognize Kartheiser out of character, who showed up with a few days’ stubble and mussed hair—and that's fine with him—though hardcore fans of his earlier work on Angel usually have no problem spotting him on the street.
And here's a bit more from the interview:
Pete has grown a great deal as a character over the past four seasons...
It’s where he is in his life. These last five seasons, it’s 26 to 31. A man is going to change more in those years than in the Roger Sterling years. I think every character is as layered as Pete, but the evolution you go through between 20s and 30s, and even 30s and 40s, is much bigger than 40s to 50s and 50s to 60s. There is an evolution in those years, but in the 20s and 30s, you’re testing that character. You’re blowing it up and making it more powerful. And I had the opportunity to go through those years at the same time as Vincent Kartheiser. There’s been some synchronicity.
There’s things you go through as a man. You’re still ambitious. Your testosterone starts to go. You start saying no to sex. Your priorities shift.
It seems like Pete pushed harder, and because of that they brought him to the new firm. He’s a success now.
When Ken was given head of accounts, Pete couldn’t believe it. Because in his mind, Ken is a haircut. And Ken doesn’t care that much about the job. He’s like, “Huh, take it or leave it. If I get head of accounts, I get head of accounts, no big deal.” Even last year they asked Ken to take his father’s business on, and Ken said he wouldn’t take on his real life. Pete will. Like, the guy with Jai Alai. Pete will go into every part of his life to cultivate business. So when Ken gets head of accounts, he realizes [the firm] doesn’t know what they’re doing. So he’s like, fuck these people. So when they take him on at the new agency, and now he has a partnership, it gives him an opportunity. I think at the end of Season 4, 90 percent of the accounts are his. And these aren’t just accounts he’s inherited, they’re accounts he built. He went out, beat the pavement, shook hands. And he doesn’t have what Roger Sterling has. He doesn’t have charm, wit. People don’t really like him, because of the way he acts. Which is something I can identify with as well.
Is there some parallel in the fact that this has become you’re career-defining role? As Pete has succeeded, it’s pushed your own career over the top, as well.
Yeah, you’re right. There is that synchronicity in that. It is. Yeah. And it’s been a really cool process to have something that you can even say that about. People say, “Are you worried you’re going to get character-cast?” No. That’s the greatest thing ever. It means people really believed what you did so well, that they want to see it over and over again. And that just creates a new challenge.
Mad Men returns for Season 5 this Sunday, March 25 at 9pm on AMC.