'Veep' Stars Bid Farewell to Departing Creator Armando Iannucci: "He's a Genius"

With the HBO comedy's creator leaving after Sunday's season four finale, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the cast discuss their erstwhile leader.
Patrick Harbron/HBO

While Selina Meyer and her team wait (im)patiently to see whether or not she will remain the president of the United States during "Election Night," Veep will be losing at least one leader after Sunday's season four finale.

The biting political satire is losing its creator-in-chief. Armando Iannucci announced early this season that he would be departing the HBO comedy after four years as showrunner (and commuting back and forth from his native U.K. to the U.S.) Having to say goodbye to their fearless leader, the Veep cast had nothing but praise for Iannucci during his tenure with the show.

"There are too many wonderful memories to choose just one," star Julia Louis-Dreyfus tells The Hollywoood Reporter of her favorite moments working with Iannucci, "There is no better show creator working in television today. He is a great writer, a great director, a great editor and a God damned Milton scholar."

"The word 'genius' gets thrown around a lot, perhaps a little too easily these days, … but Armando Iannucci is a true genius," says Reid Scott."[Veep] is born of his brain. This show absolutely would not have existed without Armando Iannucci."

When tasked with describing the impact Iannucci has had in building the show, the cast frequently tossed about "genius," "brilliant," "charming," "witty" and "a delight."

Likening him to Kurt Vonnegut, Peter Sellers, and Mark Twain, Anna Chlumsky added, "He's one of our great satirists. … He has a bit of a muckraker in him. He has a keen eye for hypocrisy and for absurdity and dishonesty. The stories he tells, the human condition that he explores, are somehow trying to put that right in his way."

Veep is the second pairing of Chlumsky and the London-based Iannucci. She also co-starred in his BBC Film In the Loop, a quasi-spinoff of his U.K. politics–skewing series The Thick of It. "Veep has been a real blessing, not just for [people who work with him], but, to get a little grandiose about it, it's a blessing for our country," says Chlumsky. "[With] that kind of outlook and probing genius, why should only one country and one government get that treatment?"

Yet, despite the fact that he and his writers' biting satire, pithy dialogue and scathing insults have garnered the show three Emmy nominations for outstanding comedy series in three years thus far (and a likely fourth this year), Iannucci was, according to the cast, "egoless."

"He always received any idea you had," says Tony Hale, who himself won an Emmy in 2013 for his portrayal of Selina's right-hand (bag)man, Gary Walsh, "Even if it was a stupid idea or you were just kind of brainstorming, … he didn't hold too precious to the material."

"He gives you a sense that you're entitled to own that character," says Matt Walsh. "You are encouraged to own your character and be responsible for your plotline, which is a rare opportunity on a show."

While for many, having deep conversations about politics with their boss would be a source of awkwardness and possibly ill will, it was all part of the collaborative, "egalitarian," process at Veep, a process which many castmembers cherished.

For Scott, that collaboration started as early as the audition, where he spent 45 minutes talking in character as Dan with Iannucci. "Not only did I just sort of have this really fun audition, but I just took a class on this character and how this man Armando works," says Scott.

Chlumsky had a similar memory from the first season, when Armando came to her with the "important epiphany" that the neurotic and seemingly angry Amy was simply just afraid of showing any emotions in front of Selina. "It just [shaped] the whole performance of poor dear Amy," she says. "That day was such a perfect example of his thinking: 'Hey, we're still shaping this, we're still learning about them.'"

But beyond the sophisticated humor and intellectual discussions about characters, there was another side of Armando that truly colored some of the cast's favorite memories. "The memories I have are the times when I can make him crack up uncontrollably," shares Walsh, pointing to a scene where he fell off a ball in Silicon Valley, among others, "There's laughter all the time, but to make him like laugh like a child is something I remember [most]."

Chlumsky agrees. "He has this giddiness and this almost kid-like quality to him when he thinks something is good," says the actress. "When we were really cooking or if there was something really funny that happened during a scene, he would yell 'cut' and he would really be jumping up and down and knitting his fingers like 'Woohoohoo! (giggling)' in a very giddy, darling way."

She continues, "It felt like pure joy to see him enjoy himself that much."

While Iannucci will certainly be missed, the cast is optimistic about the future of the show, having met and discussed new ideas and the new trajectory with incoming showrunner David Mandel (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm). Nonetheless, they readily give praise to Iannucci for the blueprints that allow them to continue on so eagerly.

"He built the boat and we will continue to sail it," Louis-Dreyfus says.

The Veep season four finale airs Sunday, June 14, at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.

Tune back in to The Live Feed after the episode airs for words from creator Armando Iannucci himself as he discusses the finale and his decision to bow out after four seasons.

Twitter: @NotPhelan

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