Julia Louis-Dreyfus is no stranger to Emmy love. Her most recent nomination is her sixth in the Outstanding Lead Actress In a Comedy Series category, with the previous five for "The New Adventures of Old Christine," and she racked up seven more for her Supporting Comedy Actress role on "Seinfeld," with a win for each show in their respective categories. But that didn't make this year's Emmy nomination for "Veep" any less exciting.
I caught up with Louis-Dreyfus to talk about her latest lead actress nod ("I'm tickled pink") and the Outstanding Comedy Series nomination for the show ("the most delightful surprise"), and she also confirmed that she and her fellow comedy actress nominees are cooking up something fun for the ceremony. (Remember last year when the nominees each took the stage when her name was announced? There was genuine excitement from all the women -- and a tiara and roses for the winner.)
Louis-Dreyfus also shared some scoop on Season 2 of "Veep," confirming that there will be 10 episodes instead of Season 1's eight-episode order and teasing some very interesting storylines and new characters. But will we finally meet the president? And who would she cast as the No. 1 to Selina Meyer's No. 2 in the White House? Keep reading for more ...
Congratulations on all of the Emmy love, for you and the show. Was it expected, or were you surprised?
You know, of course I was hoping that our show would get nominated, but I knew that it was a longshot because we're a freshman series and we only did eight episodes, so the fact that we did get nominated was really the most delightful surprise and a real thrill for everybody who works on the show. It's just a tremendous honor, and to be in the company of these other great shows ... I mean, gimme a break. It's dreamy.
The Best Actress in a Comedy category is always a lot of fun. The nominees really enjoy it and often like to do a little something for the audience. Have you guys already caught up with each other to start planning something?
We have, yes. I've been in touch with a couple of people ... we're talking. It's such a particularly nice time to be in this category because this group of women is such an outstanding group ... I mean, I really have enormous respect and really admire the women in this category tremendously. It's a great snapshot of what's happening in television right now for women. These women know how to get to the funny and do it powerfully and capably. I'm tickled pink to be in this group.
I know you've said that for Season 1 on "Veep," you sat down with creator Armando Iannucci and fleshed out what would happen. Do you have any idea what's coming up in Season 2?
Oh yeah ... we're just starting that process now. We are on a slightly different schedule -- we will begin shooting "Veep" again in October, so we are just now sort of hashing out what Season 2 is about and sort of where we seem to be headed. We're going to bring in some new characters. Selina's going to get closer to the West Wing and then perhaps wish she wasn't so close to the West Wing. And we may even travel globally ... that remains to be seen, but it may be the case if we can figure it out, budget-wise.
I'm laughing just picturing her traveling, dealing with foreign dignitaries on their own soil ...
That's exactly right. That's all you have to picture, right there. That's Season 2. She's also going to go to a hog roast and try to get down with the good people of the middle class. You can imagine what that scene is going to be like. [Laughs.]
The best thing about Selina is that she's not Elaine Benes and she's not Christine Campbell. She curses, and she's so unapologetically un-PC, you have to appreciate the absolute bullshit that comes out of her mouth.
Well I guess you do -- you don't have to vote for her, but you can definitely appreciate it ... There's that show now, "Political Animals," right? But she is, in fact, a political animal, and she is in the business of trying to stay alive politically. That's what she's done for 20 years and plans on doing for certainly another 20.
And she's found herself in this bottom-of-the-barrel kind of place. Before you started doing press for this show, I don't think many people really sat back and thought about how ineffective and how sad of a second-rung kind of job the vice presidency is.
Well, that is to say it can be. It really does vary from administration to administration, you know? I mean, all you have to do is think of the various real vice presidents, and you can see how it has so much to do with the relationship between the vice president and the president. But it is a strange position, for sure, and I'm so delighted to have seen what was sort of almost hiding in plain sight, in terms of a comedy goldmine, and it's this office of the vice presidency. [Laughs.] When it was first described to me, I thought, "Oh my god ... I can't believe that's never been done before from a comedy point of view! This is a goldmine for comedy!"
With only eight episodes last season, and 10 episodes this season, do you feel like this premise is something you all can mine for a while? Or could it ever be "Veep" and she's, like, a local congresswoman again?
Oh she's going to be veep -- well certainly for four years, we know that much. Although there may be moments in which she's ... well, I don't want to give anything away. But she's certainly a veep for the time being. But I'm fond of saying, and I think this is very true, that anybody who's politically ambitious does not aspire to the vice presidency. There just simply isn't anyone who aspires to that position, that I've ever come across. And yet plenty of very powerful and ambitious people end up in that position, so ... needless to say, there's an inherent tension in that office.
People have had their own ideas of who it is you're probably basing Selina Meyer on. Have fans shared those theories with you?
Well, originally people were asking me who I was doing, but I don't get that question so much anymore. I understand why they would say that in this age -- particularly because Sarah Palin has been characterized so well by Tina Fey and Julianne Moore, of course, in "Game Change" -- but this is sort of an amalgamation of politicians, both male and female, in my mind. I didn't, in any way, want to be likened to a particular person in politics because then my hands would be tied by that. It's great fun to have created this character because there are so many things that are ripe for the plucking from the world as we know it today, politically.
You know, there's just so much going out there, and there are gaffes and misspeakings happening all the time. I don't know if you saw the mayor of London hanging from a zipline ... it was an extraordinary sight. Wasn't that remarkable? But I have to say it was so remarkable, that I think if we put that in the show it would be too broad. People would say, "Oh, come on!" [Laughs.] So there's a lot of material out there.
And especially with the election coming up.
Oh yeah. Absolutely. I'm looking forward to the debate.
The cast is so phenomenal, and I'm loving the possibilities for adding new characters, but I want to make sure: Is everyone from Season 1 returning for Season 2?
Oh absolutely, yeah, yeah, yeah. We're just going to have a few new characters from the West Wing -- not the show "The West Wing," but the real West Wing.
But still no president, right?
I loved that element of the unknown in Season 1 -- not being told their party affiliation, not ever actually seeing the President.
Well, I think it's a great symbol in a lot of ways, but also it's part and parcel to not sort of identifying her. It sort of falls under the heading of not identifying the party. You don't know what party she's in. You may have your guess, but then she's sort of straddling the aisle every way she goes, so she really could be in either party.
If they do cast the president -- or any other major White House roles -- have you thought of any friends you'd love to come do the part?
Yeah, but I'll keep all of that to myself. [Laughs.] Sorry about that!
"Veep" Season 2 will premiere in spring 2013 on HBO.
Click through the slideshow below for a complete list of nominees. Jimmy Kimmel will host the 64th Annual Emmy Awards, airing on ABC on Sun., Sept. 23.