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by Ben Travers
April 30, 2014 10:24 AM
4 Comments
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus on How Television Embraces Women More Than Film

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 'Veep'

"Veep" was recently picked up for a fourth season, and, historically, creator and showrunner Armando Iannucci doesn't produce more than a few seasons for his shows. Is there an exit strategy in place for "Veep," politically speaking?

There's no exit strategy right now. We're still very much in the entrance strategy mode, and really just focusing on what season four is going to be and what those stories are going to be. I love making the show so much, and I love playing this character so much, and I love working with Armando Iannucci and all our fine writers on the show so much that I don't have any interest in, you know, departing or leaving that situation anytime soon. Really. I mean, let's face it. It's kind of a dream gig from my point of view.

Season after season, "Veep" gets leaner with its dialogue, blocking, and overall execution. Is that created through the writing, working on set, or somewhere else? 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as VP Selina Meyer on "Veep." HBO

I think there's something to be said for working as a group, collaborating, over a period of time. Needless to say, we know each other and we have each other's rhythms down now much more so than we did in the third episode of season one because we've worked together. We have the experience under our belts. So there's a kind of shorthand and a varied understanding of what this show is that's in place. In addition to that, I'd say conceptually this show is opening up in ways that -- and again, it's a credit to the writers on our show -- in ways that are very unusual and the stage in a strange way is getting deeper and wider. I think that really speaks to working together for a period of time, and it's a very good group of people. We've managed to put together a really fine group of actors, writers, directors. It's a good dance we've got going along right now. There's a lot of luck and faith going on right now, but I think it stands to reason that our time together as brought us some good results. 

That's refreshing to hear considering the scathing nature of the show and how brutally it critiques the American political system and its players. Other shows like "Parks and Rec" and HBO's own "The Newsroom" are more sincere in their depiction of public service. Do you feel one or the other is a more accurate representation, and does each show deserve its own voice on TV?

Oh, I definitely think there's room for both. I think there's room for all sorts of storytelling about politics because nothing is ever one-way. It just isn't. In politics, in business, in, you know, any facet of culture, life and society there are many different ways of telling a story. So yes, there's definitely room for all of these shows, and they're all good, I think. But I don't think one is more true than the other. I'm really happy telling these stories now, but not because I think they're more true. I just like to tell the stories because I think they're very funny. It's just a series of incredibly dysfunctional relationships on a global stage, and that's tremendously exciting. It's a pressure cooker, and it's just very ripe for comedy. So I'm just glad I get to do it.

"I also think, certainly on television, the parts for women of my age and older are much more bountiful than they are in film."

After all the snafus and staff mishaps, is there any way Selena Meyer could become president? 

Well, there's always a chance. You never know, and there's a lot more to go this season. We've only aired four episodes, and there's six more to go. They're all extremely surprising, and I can't say any more, but just keep watching. I think you'll be...[laughs].

There have been some truly ruthless insults this season. Have there ever been any that were so cruel you had to back away from it, either on set or in post?

We shoot a lot of things that don't make the cut. Quite a lot. But I can't tell you specifically what. I mean, yes, of course. You have to go to certain places. You have to push it further than you would go to get to the right place, which is kind of stupid-sounding, but I think you know what I mean.

You have to explore the limits of your character to see what's in and out of play.

So I would say we're always taking risks with storytelling and within the dynamics of the relationships on the show.

There used to be a line where TV stars were looked down on compared to film actors, and there wasn't a lot of crossover. 

Oh yeah, that's true. Very good point. That line -- I don't even know that it exists anymore, to be honest with you. I also think, certainly on television, the parts for women of my age and older are much more bountiful than they are in film. No doubt about that. 

After having considerable success in network television in your early career with "Seinfeld"  and "The New Adventures of Old Christine," and now on cable television a bit later, what have you seen as the major developments for the medium? 

It's more about what hasn't changed. I mean, the whole idea of binge-watching television and DVR-watching, that completely changed the landscape of television over the last 20 years. It certainly changed, I would say, the business model of television, meaning the currency of ratings is not what it used to be back in the early days of "Seinfeld." I don't mean to say ratings don't count, but there are plenty of other factors that are just as important. And it's sort of the wild, wild west because now there are so many platforms and areas for good television, which is also extremely exciting. I mean, personally for me, I love working on pay cable because from a creative point of the view the latitude is so phenomenal and there's such a built in respect, especially at HBO, there's a culture of respect there I just pinch myself over. I just can't get enough of it. It's just so fantastic. So, that for me, is an absolute dream. 

"Picture Paris" is now available on iTunes.

4 Comments

  • Mia | April 30, 2014 2:14 PMReply

    I really want her to do something else with Wanda S...

  • Brandon | April 30, 2014 11:30 AMReply

    Great article. I definitely need to jump aboard the Veep train.

  • Tristen | April 30, 2014 11:26 AMReply

    Great article! Love her!

  • Ann | April 30, 2014 11:09 AMReply

    Good interview. She sounds as vibrant as when she's acting. I agree with her that women are getting more good parts on television than in film, but it's improving overall. It helps to have good actresses and comedians like Julia, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.