At the New York branch of the Paley Center for Media, just a week before their fourth season premiere, the cast of HBO's Veep sat down with Alan Sepinwall of HitFix to discuss how the smart, politics-skewering comedy show gets made. To no one's surprise, the uproarious sitcom was renewed for a fifth season the day after Episode 4.1 aired. Add to that the 17 Emmy nominations, with a total of 4 wins, the show has garnered since 2012 and you have a satirical comedy that's going down in the annals of television's best shows. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the lead role of Vice President Selina Meyer, Veep was always destined for greatness…and now Selina has finally stumbled into it herself.
Veep's third season ended with something the show has been building toward for years but was still entirely unexpected—the swearing in (twice!) of Selina as President of the United States. We're not sure that even a fictional America can survive that Commander in Chief! Will she surprise us all? As Louis-Dreyfus mused during the panel, "The timing for her [Selina] is completely unfortunate. She's coming into the very last bit of the term to take over president, about eight months. Of course, what that means is she has to campaign at the same time and make a mark as the president, and we all know how simple that is in eight months. She has an impossible task ahead." As long as she makes us laugh while doing it, we won't judge Selina's efforts. Not knowing quite whom we're laughing at has always been part of the show's appeal. As Timothy Simons (Jonah Ryan) related, the cast attended last year's White House Press Correspondents' Dinner and "every individual politician thinks the show is about everybody else but them." We suspect that's how Veep likes it.
Indiezone.TV greeted the cast of Veep on the red carpet before the Paley Center panel convened. In the following clips, you'll come face-to-face with several of Selina's most-trusted, or most-tolerated, advisors played by Gary Cole (Kent Davison), Matt Walsh (Mike McLintock), Kevin Dunn (Ben Caffrey), and new series regular Sam Richardson (Richard Splett). During the panel, Richardson fielded a question about what it's like to join this accomplished cast, and Louis-Dreyfus joked that the paychecks clearing was enough of an initiation ritual. To which Richardson responded, "Actually, one of my checks did not!" Get on that, HBO!
A big topic of discussion, both during the panel and during our interviews, was the unique rehearsal and improv process Veep uses to explore their characters and refine the script before the final shoot. As Louis-Dreyfus described, "It's a very organic, ever-moving experience doing the show. It's exhilarating, it's exhausting, but ultimately it's really satisfying." The whole panel gave excellent insight into the craft of acting and how much more dedication making characters this engaging, believable, and just plain funny involves than simply showing up and reciting a script. For the actors without an improvisation background, the rehearsal process has been a challenge to get used to, but one they all agree enriches their characters.
In the following interview clips, we dig deeper into how each actor approaches the Veep creative process and what their views are on what awaits their characters in Season 4. Is America ready for President Selina Meyers? Are you?
Sam Richardson on Richard's Future Job Prospects
Richardson gave us what he thinks are Richard's legitimate employment opportunities: whatever doesn't involve paperwork! He also supplied us with a sure winner of a campaign slogan if Richard were to run for office himself and the breakdown on how scriptwriting intertwines with rehearsal on the show.
Can Kent Lighten Up? Gray Cole Weighs In
Cole couldn't help but scoff at the idea of Kent Davison lightening up; a statistician was the only alternate career he could come up with for the longsuffering White House numbers cruncher. As Cole explained during the panel, Kent is about 50% human and 50% robot. Maybe the key is more motor oil? Cole also described how intimidating it was to realize he was amongst improv actors when starting Veep and how he's grown more comfortable with that part of the job.
Matt Walsh Improvs His Way into Veep's Rehearsal Process
Veep's actual shoots involve very little improv…or so Matt Walsh would have us believe. It may just be an on-the-fly cover—we can never be sure around this guy—but he claims all that work is done after the cast rehearses the initial script. Walsh also shared the bit of a transition his character goes through in Season 4 in becoming the face of the Administration. According to his four-word description of the season, we think that change will be an entertaining one for Mike McLintock.
Kevin Dunn on Ben Caffrey's Campaign Potential…or Lack Thereof
After playing the former president's Chief of Staff for two seasons, what's next for Kevin Dunn's Ben Caffrey? His lack of charisma and bad habits wouldn't take Ben very far in his own campaign, according to Dunn, so it's a good thing he's sticking around despite how Selina will "drive him to the brink" in balancing her campaign with her presidential duties. Dunn also talked about how Veep's collaborative process has changed his approach to line memorization and deepened his connection to his character. "Never a dull moment" is his tagline for the upcoming season.
Don't miss Veep Season 4, Sunday nights at 10:30 on HBO!