Vincent Kartheiser on How His ‘Das Boot’ Character Compares to ‘Mad Men’s Pete

Das Boot
Nik Konietzny/Hulu

How’s this for bingeing? Vincent Kartheiser devoured all eight scripts of Das Boot in just three hours. “I read this and I was like, ‘This is compelling. This is interesting. This is wonderfully written. I want to be a part of it,'” he says of the World War II–set thriller (based on the 1973 novel and 1981 film).

Kartheiser, who memorably played slippery Pete Campbell on AMC’s Mad Men, portrays slippery Samuel Greenwood, an American war profiteer who’s on a U-boat with a German crew (above). “I don’t know if the audience is supposed to be rooting for him,” teases Kartheiser, who tells us more.

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What can you reveal about Samuel?

Vincent Kartheiser: He’s being transported from Germany to an unknown location. He’s a complete mystery to the crew, and [his presence] divides them because half are patriotic and want to fulfill their mission, and the other half want to fulfill their time in the military and go home. He becomes a catalyst for many things.

How did you re-create a cramped submarine?

We shot in a large water tank in Malta. It looks like you’re in the ocean because it’s basically an infinity pool. And there was a German Navy guy on hand the whole time who was obsessive about making sure everything was exactly to spec.

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Are you a history buff?

Not really. For this role, I went to a bookstore and found a book of clippings from The New York Times from 1933 all the way to 1946. It’s just nuts-and-bolts information, but that’s how people from that time would have been learning about the war. No hot takes!

After being a suit-and-tie guy on Mad Men for eight years, do you now look to go beyond your comfort zone?

It’s a bit like dating. You might be looking for a supermodel who’s also an astrophysicist but end up with someone different. In this case, I ended up with a 10 out of 10 on all levels, and I’m happy with it. But there are some things similar to Mad Men. Even though I’m in a dirty suit and tie, it is a suit and tie.

Das Boot, Series Premiere, Monday, June 17, Hulu