It's been awhile since a 7-year-old Vincent Kartheiser took the Guthrie Theater stage as Tiny Tim in "A Christmas Carol."

But this summer, the "Mad Men" star will return to the Guthrie in Minneapolis as one of literary history's most popular — and complicated — heartthrobs, Mr. Darcy of "Pride and Prejudice."

The production, to be directed by Joe Dowling, caps the theater's 50th-anniversary season.

Kartheiser, 35, grew up in Apple Valley and moved to Los Angeles as a teen to pursue an acting career. He shot to national fame in 2007 as Pete Campbell, the slimy, conniving ad executive everyone loves to hate on the much-lauded drama "Mad Men."

He was offered the Guthrie role just three weeks ago, he said in an interview Friday morning.

"I'd been putting out feelers with regional theaters, saying keep me in mind, so when they called I jumped on it," said Kartheiser, who also recently starred in a San Jose Repertory Theatre play, "The Death of the Novel."

The role of Darcy in "Pride and Prejudice," Jane Austen's most popular and most-adapted novel, is "a challenge I'm looking forward to," Kartheiser said. "It's a type of character I haven't had a lot of experience playing, and I'll have to go into a part of my psyche I'm not used to navigating that much."

Before moving to Los Angeles as a teen to pursue acting, Kartheiser also appeared at the Guthrie in productions of "Henry V" and "Henry IV" in 1990. He acted in numerous productions at Children's Theatre Company.

Kartheiser's fond memories of the Guthrie include "being the only kid in the Henrys, having my own tiny dressing room, and dancing with the adults until 3 a.m. at a wrap party," he said.

Rehearsals for "Pride and Prejudice" begin June 4. The play opens July 12 (previews begin July 6) and closes Aug. 31.

The Guthrie is planning a big party on June 22 to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046