Vincent Kartheiser, better known as smarmy sh*tweasel Pete Campbell in “Mad Men,” gave an interview to The Guardian in which he’s revealed to be either fascinating, hippie scum, or full of crap. I can’t decide which. He has no car, no toilet in his “empty wooden box” of a house, and he claims not to be rich.
[Kartheiser], in the city of cheap gas and freeways, given up on a car. “I go on the bus, I walk. A friend left his car recently at my house and I took it out one day just for 15 minutes and it was terrible. You know why? I felt like I was back in LA again. Four or five years ago, when I had a car and I had been out of the city I wouldn’t feel I was back until I got in the car, you know. But now I feel off the grid. I feel that I am not part of the culture. And because I don’t have a car I don’t really go anywhere to buy things. In fact, I have been in a slow process of selling and giving away everything I own.”
He has? Like what?
“Like, I don’t have a toilet at the moment. My house is just a wooden box. I mean I am planning to get a toilet at some point. But for now I have to go to the neighbours. I threw it all out.”
So, okay: you’re going to give away all your possessions. How does one give away a toilet? “Go ahead, take it. Too many bad memories.” More:
(As he says this, I’m wondering whether this is just another of the parts Kartheiser might be trying on for size, but to prove the point he later takes me back to his house, which really is an empty wooden box, a small one-room bungalow on a nondescript Hollywood street and indeed it has no lavatory.) Is that a Buddhist thing, I wonder, or an early midlife crisis thing?
“It started a couple of years ago,” he says. “It was in response to going to these Golden Globe type events and they just give you stuff. You don’t want it. You don’t use it. And then Mad Men started to become a success on a popular level and people started sending me stuff, just boxes of shit. Gifts for every holiday, clothes. One day, I looked around and thought ‘I don’t want this stuff, I didn’t ask for it’. So I started giving it to friends or charity stores, or if it is still in its box I might sell it for a hundred bucks. I liked it so I didn’t stop.”
Does he have a bed?
“I do,” he concedes, “but that might go…”
“Actually, that was the big discussion today, when a friend came over: I was wondering, should I have a screen in my home? It seems like the next step. I haven’t had a mirror for six or seven years, though I admit that causes a lot of problems when I have to tie a bow tie. Or if I have to, you know, comb my hair for something. I’m forever looking in the mirrors of parked cars.”
“You know, it’s hugely inconvenient for me, an actor, not to own a mirror, but I’d hate for someone to think I’m vain.” *fixes hair in mirror of parked car*
So what does he do with all his money?
“I don’t have a lot of money. I get some from Mad Men. But I don’t think I’m rich…”
Surely he should be by now? Mad Men sells across the world. Or is his agent very rich?
“I don’t really use an agent,” he says (though he is signed to ICM). “Maybe that’s where I am going wrong. TV is very different from where it was 10 years ago. There are so many more channels, so much less ad money; contracts have gone through the floor you know, at least mine have.
“Someone is no doubt making a ton of money. It’s like all creative media; you know there’s definitely money in it somewhere, but it doesn’t go to the actors or the writers or the journalists or whoever; we are way, way down the food chain.”
Anecdote time: In college, I knew a girl who had gone to one of the most prestigious and expensive boarding schools in the country. Her father was a doctor and her family was wealthy, but the uber-rich A-hole kids from the Northeast teased her about being from Illinois, because that state has, like, cows and stuff. Because of her perception as not being part of the East coast elite, she told me that she was middle-class. I had to explain to her that “less rich” didn’t mean “not rich.” I think ol’ Vinny here could use the same talk.