The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles honored “Veep” at their annual PaleyFest celebration of TV shows. Most of the cast of the HBO political comedy attended and spoke on a panel, and I was on the red carpet to interview them.
I actually got a few good questions in with Julia Louis-Dreyfus herself, who plays Vice President Selina Meyer. Season three will find Selina running for President.
CraveOnline: Is Selina adequately prepared for the campaign trail?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: No.
How much has it changed since the last time she ran for office?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: I think this time she feels more entitled to the nomination.
Does that play better or worse to the public?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Obviously it’s going to have to play worse, right?
I write a column called Best Episode Ever, and for “Seinfeld” I picked “The Contest,” obviously. It looked like you could not even keep it together when you shot that episode. Is that how it was?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Well, actually when we made “The Contest,” I remember thinking, “They’re going to shut us down.” I kept thinking, “NBC is going to come down here, pull the plug and say, ‘I’m sorry, you cannot make a show about this issue.’” And they didn’t, so I was always just sort of looking over my shoulder waiting for them, but they didn’t.
Armando Iannucci created “Veep.” He’s experienced in the realm of political comedy from the BBC series The Thick of It and the film In the Loop. After two seasons in the office of the Vice President, he’s taking Selina on the road to perhaps change the show from “Veep” to “Prez.”
CraveOnline: Which character is going to face the biggest changes now that Selina’s running for president?
Armando Iannucci: They all do. Jonah has a bit of a traumatic run this seasons.
Is Selina adequately prepared for the campaign trail?
Armando Iannucci: I think so. I think in the back of her mind she’s been planning it. I mean, she ran for election before three years previously and she got the Vice Presidency. What she hasn’t quite worked out I think is all her beliefs. That’s what this season is about really, her having to define herself more.
Does any politician ever really commit to a stance?
Armando Iannucci: I think in the end they do. They might not believe the stance but they have to work out what that stance is, so that’s really what the season is. It’s about her getting out of DC, meeting the normals as she calls them, the voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, going to Detroit, going to Silicon Valley and trying to raise money, but also being asked repeatedly what she believes and having to come up with an answer.
Has the campaign trail changed a lot in the years since she ran for Vice President?
Armando Iannucci: I think she’s a lot more aware that you’re under so much scrutiny and everyone is a reporter and journalist now. That’s the big difference.
Sufe Bradshaw plays Selina’s executive assistant, Sue. Pretty much all of Sue’s dialogue is delivered under her breath, and it sounds like that’s not going to change.
CraveOnline: Will Sue continue to be this gruff, no nonsense secretary whether Selina’s running for president or not?
Sufe Bradshaw: I don’t think that she knows how not to be. That’s who she is, the base of herself. She’s just an acerbic woman. She’s all about time. It’s all about the clock with that girl.
Was she working on the campaign when Selina ran for Vice President?
Sufe Bradshaw: That’s a very good question. I think we would have to ask the writers that. I would imagine yet. I would imagine that Selina had her crew for a long time.
So Sue’s done this before.
Sufe Bradshaw: Oh, this is not her first rodeo, no.
What were your favorite Sue moments from the first two seasons?
Sufe Bradshaw: First season was amazing because we didn’t know what “Veep” was going to be. It was very new. The second season was awesome because we had sort of settled into ourselves, and third season’s so great because we really know these characters in and out. My favorite moment from season one is when Selina’s talking to Gary and he’s like, “Ma’am, you have this sort of static here and we just have to remove it so it doesn’t get static.” And she goes, “Oh, Gary, making physics fun.”
If there are any heroes in the world of politics, Timothy Simons would be playing the character considered to be the villain. Jonah is the White House liaison who always tries to sabotage Selina’s plans. Simons was under the weather tonight, but still graciously spoke to every reporter down the line.
CraveOnline: Now that Selina is running for office, how much sneakier will Jonas have to be to weasel his way into the sessions?
Timothy Simons: He may not end up being very sneaky about it. He’s not a very sneaky guy. He just kind of throws it all out there but I think that he’ll just start being incredibly nice to her all the time in ways that he never was.
Won’t she find that fishy?
Timothy Simons: She will, but I’m sure I’ll find something that will be of use to her that she can’t live or run without.
What were your favorite Jonas moments from the first two seasons?
Fred Topel is a veteran journalist since 1999 and has written for CraveOnline since 2006. See Fred on the ground at Sundance, SXSW, Telluride or in Los Angeles and follow him on Twitter @FredTopel, Instagram @Ftopel.