“It’s always brewing for Amy.”
No statement could more accurately sum up the delights and challenges of playing Amy Brookheimer, the workaholic, power-hungry and devoted ex-Chief of Staff to ex-President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Throughout “Veep,” HBO’s Emmy-winning and critically-revered comedy, Amy is constantly on edge — sitting in wait for the next disaster to strike and always ready with a plan when it does.
While that’s absolutely thrilling to watch unfold for the audience, one can imagine how such demands could take it out of the actress playing Amy, Emmy nominee Anna Chlumsky.
“It’s just under the surface for her, all the time,” Chlumsky said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “So playing her — [with] that intensity, those stakes — all of those things are always in play, the second the scene begins. It’s just a matter of whether she lets it out or not.”
Chlumsky cites her theater background for helping her not only keep the energy up, take after take, scene after scene, but for allowing her to keep finding new facets within Amy with each new opportunity.
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“You’re trained to be able to do something eight shows a week, theoretically,” Chlumsky said. “And you’re also trained to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and be open to new stuff all the time. So when it comes to scenes like that, I definitely feel like it’s all in and wherever your energy level [lands] is going to be valid and truthful. So when you are doing take after take, it’s just there. You’ve rehearsed it. It’s in your body.”
Season 5 found Amy being slowly welcomed back into the inner circle she abandoned the season prior (via a quitting scene to end all quitting scenes), which provided unique challenges of its own.
“Personally, I call this season ‘Amy’s Back From Rehab Season,'” Chlumsky said. “In the second half of last season, she was trying to pull away and see if she could live without this professional addiction of hers. This season she’s asking that same question of herself: ‘Is it possible to have both — to be in this environment and to stay sane?”
Amy only truly tests that theory when she officially joins the Meyer team midway through Season 5, in the very episode Chlumsky has submitted for Emmy consideration, “C***gate.”
“They were all figuring out how not to tell Mom something,” Chlumsky said of the episode. “What was so fun was banding together with everyone else — everybody being like, ‘I said it, too.’ It felt a little like old times.”
Chlumsky also pointed to the final two episodes of Season 10 as something “we’ve never done before,” specifically the faux-documentary episode, “Kissing Your Sister.” Chlumsky was given the opportunity, as Amy, to talk directly to camera, opening up a lot of doors and playing around comedically in a bigger space than normal.
“It was new and really fun to play with,” Chlumsky said.
Her range can be seen fully in the deleted scenes available on “the film’s” website, but Chlumsky has flexed her acting muscles for five years now. She’s been rewarded with four Emmy nods so far, including this year. Final voting for the 2016 Primetime Emmys is open now until August 29 at 10pm. IndieWire encourages all TV Academy members to strongly consider Ms. Chlumsky, as well as our endorsements in all categories.