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11 Things We Learned about 'Veep' from Julia Louis-Dreyfus & the VP Staff at PaleyFest

Photo of Shipra Gupta By Shipra Gupta | Indiewire March 31, 2014 at 3:20PM

The panel felt like a self-contained, behind-the-scenes episode of the show, as the cast engaged in spontaneous, humorous bits with one another.
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From left to right, Reid Scott, Gary Cole, Timothy Simons, Armando Iannucci, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matt Walsh, Kevin Dunn, Sufe Bradshaw and Tony Hale.
From left to right, Reid Scott, Gary Cole, Timothy Simons, Armando Iannucci, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matt Walsh, Kevin Dunn, Sufe Bradshaw and Tony Hale.

For its penultimate panel, PaleyFest screened the Season 3 premiere of "Veep" and followed it up with a very lively Q&A session with creator Armando Iannucci and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Sufe Bradshaw and Timothy Simons. Veteran actors Kevin Dunn and Gary Cole, who both had major recurring roles in Season 2 which will continue into Season 3, also joined the panel.

The panel felt like a self-contained, behind-the-scenes episode of the show, as the cast engaged in spontaneous, humorous bits with one another. The cast's rapport didn't come as a surprise, but at times it felt strange to watch such a polished, un-cut "performance" right before our eyes.

It was as if we got a glimpse of what it's like on the set of "Veep" -- or, at least what we would like to think it's like.

That said, here are 10 things we learned:

Iannucci managed to sneak into the State Department.

Iannucci's 2009 Academy Award nominated film "In the Loop" was set in the State Department so he wanted to visit the office "for authenticity reasons," as he put it, and "to see what it was like."

At the time, Iannucci was working for the BBC so he had a press identification card that, he was told, could get him in:

I had a little BBC pass, which was just my photograph and my name next to it, so a 3-year-old with a primitive app could have come up with it. There was no watermark or anything. Just that. And this journalist said, go up to the front of the State Department and say, "BBC, I'm here for the 12:30," and that's what I did, I went with my friend, my assistant Sean Gray, who is now one of the writers on the show. He was about 22 at the time. So this little boy and me wandered up to the front of the State Department, and I say, "12:30, BBC. I'm here for the 12:30," and they showed us in. And I thought we would be escorted in, but we weren't. We just went through the door. We started wandering around the State Department. And I thought the art department will want to see what it looks like so we started filming, taking photographs, and thinking that this is fun, but also technically international espionage. And then a big guy approach us and said, "Excuse me?' and I said, "We're here for the 12:30," and he said, "Yeah, it's just down there."

Iannucci went on to vaguely mention how "this story came up in some press thing," which subsequently triggered Hilary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time, to order an inquiry into the matter. When they discovered that the story was indeed true, the State Department increased their security. "[Clinton] is now alive because of me," Iannucci said cheekily.

Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, and Tim Simons at PaleyFest 2014.
Kevin Parry/Paley Center for Media Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, and Tim Simons at PaleyFest 2014.

The vice president character was written for a woman from the start.

Iannucci said he wanted to make the show "forward-thinking, rather than retrospective as it were."

Imagine Liza Minnelli playing Selina Meyer.

Matt Walsh decided to playfully "stir up some controversy," --  perhaps in response to the Iannucci-Louis-Dreyfus' lovefest about how they ended up working together on the show -- by suggesting that Louis-Dreyfus was not actually Iannucci's first choice for the role. Always on his game, Iannucci quipped: "Miss Minnelli was not available."

For a city with so many secrets and intrigue, D.C. isn't very good at keeping them.

While Hale, Walsh, Scott and Simons were all in D.C. doing research on their roles, they took a group of young staffers to drinks in order to pick their brain about working on the ground in the nation's capital. "They were only too willing to spill everything," said Scott. "They were really excited that someone was going to take on a show that was going to show their side of politics. Like how gritty and messy it kind of is. And that was actually where we got a lot of the affectations."

The "two phones" and the "pencil-fuck" are just two examples of said affectations.

This article is related to: PaleyFest, Veep, Armando Iannucci, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Sufe Bradshaw, Tim Simons, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole