She was the president, and she wants to be the president again. HBO’s presidential satire “Veep” is coming to an end, but not without an audacious storyline. This award-winning comedy series stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, who is the 45th President of the USA. In the last season of “Veep”, the former vice president and president, is looking to get back to the Oval Office, so she hits the campaign trail again with her familiar crew, giving viewers amusing results.
Julia (who battled cancer in between seasons and is now cancer-free!) spoke to Yahoo! Lifestyle Singapore in New York about her love for her “b*tchy, wretched character” Selina Meyers, whilst her unassuming co-star Tony Hale, who plays her assistant Gary Walsh, echoed the casts’ love and respect for the main star.
Julia, you were involved in discussions since the very beginning of “Veep” with creator Armando Iannucci. Looking back, did the show live up to what you expected?
Julia: It has exceeded my expectations and then some. I’m beyond thrilled about that fact. Of course, I hoped that it would work and it would be successful, and that the role would be a dreamy role, but little did I know what was about to unfold.
We watched you portray a character that we don’t normally get from watching a real-life politician….
Julia: A lot of the concepts of the show is showing what’s behind the curtain. And what’s behind the curtain is a lot of mundanity and a lot of b*tchiness, if you’ll excuse the word. You cannot look at Selina and see her as a figure of fun. She’s a person, she’s a human being and… she can be a real b*tch.
How do you balance the thin line of maintaining the aspect of humanity and comedy at the same time?
Julia: First and foremost, the joke has to be very solid in place. I know that sounds like I’m not answering the question, but I actually mean that. That’s number one. The second point is, it needs to feel motivated. I never came at this character thinking I’m playing a b*tch; that would have been the wrong approach. I’m playing this character who may behave a certain way, and I have to understand why she’s behaving that way. I don’t mean you’ll like it, but I think then you’d have the ability to laugh at it, and it’ll resonate; it’ll seem real.
All the characters seem to be a b*tch and you’re at the center of it. But at the same time, the show is an ensemble piece.
Tony: I walked into this knowing it was an ensemble piece, because of a tone that Julia set. She has been on ensemble comedies, and she knows the power of an ensemble… that we need to support each other. I think many times that number one on the call sheet, whoever’s the star doesn’t necessarily set a very giving tone, or you’re walking on eggshells around them. Julie was just the opposite. She created a very family environment, a very kind environment, where all of us felt free to give input. If you have that entitlement or that ego at the head of the show, it can just suck creative energy out of space. She does the opposite, so that was a real gift to us.
Where do you find the energy to put into your character as it can be overwhelming just watching you read your lines on-screen?
Julia: You know, it takes a lot of work and rehearsal; we work hard at memorising our lines together. I really love the show and I love what we get to do, so that’s where I get the energy from.
Will it be difficult for you both, having to say goodbye to these characters and the interaction between the both of you?
Julia: It’s very difficult. It’s hard to say goodbye to a trust that we’ve developed and a chemistry of familiarity. I think that’s going to be the hardest to walk away from. I’m not kidding. I’m thinking we’re going to find some other roles (where we work together). It happened before… “Arrested Development”.
Tony: The story with that is so funny. We did a show together but on two separate occasions we were each asked if we had a scene together. And both of us separately said no, we did not have any scenes together. Then someone send a screenshot of us in a scene together, talking to each other!
Julia: I recollected zero (laughs).
What was the last day of shooting like?
Tony: We were all trying to treasure each episode as they came. So we always knew it was happening. We had all season to prepare for like, “okay, this is the end.” But I will say the last four days of shooting… we were a mess – an emotional mess – because we knew it was coming to an end.
Do you have a favourite curse that your character used?
Tony: Mine was, Gary was called a ‘b*tch mime’ (laughs)
Julia: I think that’s really great because Selina never really allowed him to talk, so you just had to use non-verbal (communication) and that was fun. I think I called you that.
Do you like Selina Meyer after this show?
Julia: I understand her, I love Selina. She’s a wretched human being, and I love her with all my heart… but I wouldn’t vote for her.
Emmy-winning comedy series, Veep, kicks off for its seventh and final season same time as the U.S. every Monday at 10:30am, exclusively on HBO GO, with a same day encore on HBO at 11:30pm.
This story is the result of a trip that was sponsored by HBO Asia.