During the Mad Men PaleyFest red carpet, we had one of the most... interesting interviews yet when we stopped Vincent Kartheiser for a chat. Kartheiser typically has a way with words and loves to philosophize so before we got into talking about the show, we asked him what was rattling around in that head of his and if he could impart a little philosophy on us. His answer was pretty insightful.
"I don't have any," Kartheiser said when he was asked to give us one of his philosophies. "Not really. I mean, not that I haven't been proven wrong thousands of times already by myself and others. Philosophies are momentary, right? They work until they don't work. They're like theories."
Truth. But we ended up pulling one out of him later, when we got the Mad Men star talking about his character Pete Campbell. Campbell is a pretty conflicted and hard-to-love guy, so we asked Kartheiser if there was anything he didn't like about Pete.
"I love Pete. I love everything about him," Kartheiser told us. "He's flawed. But I learned a long time from myself that you can't hate your flaws. You can't fight too hard to change them. That's when they really stick. You gotta kind of give into them and let them kind of run through you. I think Pete's been fighting some of his flaws, and I think he's got to learn to let them help him."
He gave us a little insight into Pete's marriage falling apart, too. While viewers were surprised Trudy lasted as long as she did, Kartheiser was quick to point out that the social constructs of the time put Trudy in a situation where she had to try a lot harder to make her marriage work before she could finally drop-kick Pete from their home.
"Women are strong. They are," Kartheiser said. "And you know, at that time, and I still think now in some societies and in some parts of America and in some families, it's just it's hard to divorce. It's hard to separate. It's a social stigma. There's a taboo. And I think she feels that. She's part of that. She cares about her social position and the way that her neighbors see her. That matters to her."
He may have rolled his eyes over how Trudy's friends' opinions mattered so much to her, but it's a valid point. While the stigma of divorce has lessened exponentially over the years, it's still there a little bit, and in the '60s it could still potentially ruin a woman's reputation.
Our time on the red carpet with Kartheiser was a little surreal at times — he shared a few other interesting tidbits, too. To find out who inspired Kartheiser's portrayal of Pete, what he's watching on TV and what he plans to do after Mad Men ends, check out the video of our full interview above.
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