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In this exclusive interview with AMCtv.com, Vincent Kartheiser discusses his character Pete Campbell, not to mention the actors portraying him in the "You Could Be on Mad Men Contest."
Q: Episode 2 has Pete coping with the death of his father -- and you coping with the death of Christopher Allport, the late actor who played him. What was that like?
A: Christopher Allport was really great. We only had one scene with him last year, but it was a great scene. And I think the way Matthew [Weiner] handled it in the show is amazing because he doesn't play to that obvious reaction. The death of someone so pivotal in your life really creates a self-analysis...I think the bigger question about the episode is "How are we supposed to respond in certain situations? What am I supposed to be doing now that this thing has hit?" This is a very small and bad analogy, but I just had a flood at my house, and I looked at my house full of mud and I was like, "What am I supposed to do?" I knew there was something I should be doing in this situation, and I think emotionally that's what Pete's going through. I'm just thankful that my parents will live forever, because that's just how it's going to happen, okay?
Q: Do you think this development makes Pete more sympathetic?
A: I think people should be able to empathize with him on a certain level. It's hard for me to think too much about whether the viewing audience is going to sympathize or not with Pete, because this is a character that I've now been with for three years. I think there's a certain amount of people who still won't like him. And I think there are people in the world that when I hear bad things have happened to them, I won't sympathize or empathize. Some people have it coming.
Q: What's the hardest part about playing Pete?
A: The most difficult part sometimes is that people are constantly shunning him and locking him out of conversations. He gets humbled several times in the first season, and I think it's a strong character trait of his that he can take that and continue to bully his way into the next thing. But it's such a blessing to have a character like this. The words just jump off the page and the characters fall in line and very rarely or ever do you see someone going, "What am I doing this for?"
Q: Have you been paying attention to the videos of fans saying your monologue for AMCtv.com's contest to win a role on Mad Men?
A: Yeah I have. I feel anger towards all of them that they're trying to one-up me. [Laughs] I don't get it. Why don't you guys just go do Jon Hamm. Come on! Who wants to be Pete Campbell anyways? I mean, I do. But I didn't think there was any other freak out there who wanted to be Pete.