The Emmy-winning comedy series “Veep” kicks off its seven-episode, seventh and final season, exclusively on HBO. The show stars Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, who is hitting the campaign trail as she runs for president.
The new season of Veep finds Selina Meyer trying to gain traction in early primary states, wooing uber-wealthy donors while navigating threats from primary challengers, including aide-turned-congressman Jonah Ryan. Selina’s band of misfits is also back, except for Mike, who’s been banished from her orbit and is now covering the presidential campaign, having been replaced by his ongoing nemesis in the press, reporter Leon West.
Meanwhile, Amy is figuring out how she feels about her pregnancy vis-a-vis Dan, who seems unwilling to give up his playboy ways for fatherhood. Rounding out the team are ever-faithful bagman Gary, cantankerous Ben, numbers-obsessed Kent, and staffer Richard.
We caught up with the cast of Veep Clea DuVall, Gary Cole, Kevin Dunn & of course the iconic Julia Louis-Dreyfus to talk all things Veep.
The Knockturnal: Do you remember your audition?
Clea DuVall: I couldn’t believe it. Because I went and I auditioned for it, and thought, I’m never going to get this job. But I got to go in and I read with Julia, which was such a thrill, and I walked out of that thinking like, okay, well even if this doesn’t happen, at least I got to do a scene with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But then when I got the call, I was so excited/terrified, because I was like, oh no I have to go and do it.
The Knockturnal: There are so many funny people on this show. Is it hard to keep a straight face while filming?
Clea DuVall: Yeah. Yeah. It’s very hard, and I remember when I was doing my first scene, it was a scene with Julia and Tony in the Oval Office, and my face was just, it was aching because I wanted to laugh. And I could feel my face vibrating because I was trying not to smile. It was really bad. It was really, really hard. And it never got easier, because these people … they’re the funniest people I’ve ever worked with, and it’s a lot of fun.
The Knockturnal: Slowly but surely, your character’s been coming out of her shell. Now it’s the final season, do we see her full personality this season?
Clea DuVall: Yeah, I think fun Marjory comes out this season. Which is still very- You can’t really tell, but she’s having fun.
The Knockturnal: Fun for Marjorie.
Clea DuVall: Fun for Marjorie, yeah.
The Knockturnal: It’s been a crazy ride, talk about staying on, because originally you came on as a guest. And then you were like, oh, I guess I’m going to stay. Did you force your way on here, or did they keep you?
Gary Cole: Maybe a little of both. This show operated in a very unusual way than maybe most shows do. And I think maybe that factored- The team that wrote it came from the UK so they just looked at characters, and it’s like pieces of a puzzle, you know, and how am I going to arrange them. And you know, I became a piece of that puzzle, and then luckily there was always a spot left for me in wherever the picture was supposed to be.
Kevin Dunn: No, I came on as a guest star, and I just refused to leave. I wouldn’t leave my hotel room in Baltimore. No, I was lucky to be considered useful. I came in with Gary as Kent and it just kind of worked, and the whole storyline worked, so we were eventually offered regulars, and it was just a very happy moment.
The Knockturnal: Can you ever predict what your character’s going to do next? I can’t, because the show is so unpredictable.
Gary Cole: No, and I never worried about that. The one thing I did know was that season after season … the show never went in any kind of direction I thought it would go. It took a turn. And then we got used to that turn being taken, so we then didn’t even think about it.
The Knockturnal: I’ve been talking to a lot of people today and the show blurs with real life in a way. Did the creators foreshadow our climate? How do feel about that?
Gary Cole: It’s so difficult to remember now, you know, because it’s really, it’s all about perception. Everybody’s got a perception of how different things are now. And I know that I totally buy that. I think it’s out there, that idea is out there, that theory is out there, it’s drummed into you from the media and stuff like that. I think there was always an element of absurdity in the show, from the beginning. But, I would say that sure, I would say that the climate, if you’re talking about a political climate, took a big shift, you know, even before last year’s election. And maybe that this year, this show, even thought it doesn’t borrow from real circumstances, or at least real names, okay, they leaned into that and maybe made more commentary than they did maybe, possibly at the beginning of when this show began in 2012.
The Knockturnal: I agree. What are you going to miss most about these people and this show?
Gary Cole: Well, what I’ll miss most is the process and the people … Is being able to be in a large group. I love the scenes where there’s 9, 10, 12 people in a scene, all trying to fight their way in and say something and elbow each other out of the way. The read-throughs, the writers coming up trying to top each other. I’ll miss it all.
The Knockturnal: Lastly, what kind of impact do you think the show will have as a legacy, once it’s gone?
Gary Cole: Well, I hope that it’ll be regarded as one of the best comedies that’s been on television. You know, I think it deserves at least that … at least to be in the conversation. And that’s really all you can hope for. We know we got a lot of people that really, really love the show, and hopefully we found some new viewers along our way.
The Knockturnal: I can imagine there’s a lot on the cutting room floor on a show like this. Tell me a little bit about the process?
Kevin Dunn: There’s not a lot on the cutting room floor, but … we shoot about 50 pages an episode, on a half-hour show. And what, with Armando and with David, they are able to take the show and keep … the whole show, and just squeeze it. They just keep squeezing it. So you don’t really see what’s missing. They’re able to concentrate it. But that’s a lot of pages for a half-hour show to shoot, and then you actually see it out there in a half an hour. That’s why it comes at you so fast.
The Knockturnal: What have you learned from working on this show?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: What I’ve learned the most is, the power and significance of working with people you love and to do funny stuff. That really packs a punch in a very meaningful way for me.
The Knockturnal: Do people really need a laugh right now, at this time?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: I think they do, yeah. Don’t you? Yeah.
The Knockturnal: Did you cry when you filmed the last scene?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: I wept. Like a baby.
The Knockturnal: Like snot, crying?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: The whole deal. I was hysterical.
The Knockturnal: How do you think your character has evolved in the last season?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: She evolves … I’m going to say, without giving anything away, that by the end of the final episode … she is at her very essence.
The Knockturnal: What are you going to miss about her most?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Well first of all, what I’m going to miss the most is being with all these wonderful people whom I adore more than I can possibly articulate. That’s true. I’m going to miss playing a hyper, dysfunctional, narcissistic, undeveloped, ruthless human being.