'Veep's' Matt Walsh Breaks Down Mike's "Worst Day" Ever

"He is an easy target for the media because they oddly enjoy him and know they can poke at him," the actor tells THR about his character's latest travails.
Paul Schiraldi/HBO

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the May 24 episode of Veep, "Mommy Meyer."]

Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh) had a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day — and it seems like there may still be worse to come.

With President Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) dealing with a White House intruder, and newly added running mate Tom James (Hugh Laurie) putting his foot in his mouth while speaking about the victims of a deadly shooting, the Meyer administration had a lot on its plate during the latest episode of Veep.

Unfortunately for lovable and hapless press secretary Mike, he's the one who bears the brunt of trying to clean up the messes — from the struggle to reclassify James’ comments and moving the press away from a disparaging “Mommy Meyer” nickname for the Families First Bill to becoming a meme for his ducking at the podium. 

“At this point [he is like], ‘I don’t care, I’m just going to speak my mind, I’ve had too much of this,' ” Walsh tells The Hollywood Reporter about standing up to Selina and being the bearer of bad news, “He did reach a breaking point, but he is a marathon government worker...[and] the position requires you to say whatever the president or the chief of staff wants you to say. He will continue to have to shovel shit.”

But for how long? THR caught up with Walsh to talk longevity and take us inside Mike’s “worst day.”

Mike had to put out a lot of fires in this episode. Is he equipped to handle such a high-stakes role?

He does well in front of the press on the podium, [but] I think he prefers a simpler time. He’s barely adequate to execute his job, but he enjoys it because of the fame. He likes being the face of the administration, and that plays into his ego. After knocking around D.C. for 15, 20 years, all these people watched him fool around, and he’s been ignored for years, so there’s a certain power buzz of being right next to the president.

Tom James makes Mike’s life difficult in this episode. Will he continue to be a thorn in Mike’s side? Is he Mike’s biggest challenge going forward, or is it just the administration itself?

It’s the Meyer administration in general. Tom James is the problem du jour these latest episodes, and he is definitely creating so much work for Mike; work or problems that he didn’t see coming. He seemed very promising and idyllic for the ticket, so it is frustrating for the new guy to not get in on the team and figure out the landscape but [instead] to come in guns blazing and shoot us in the foot.

We see Mike finally speak his mind in this episode and actually challenge Selina in the Oval Office. What was it like playing that different shade of Mike McClintock?

It was something to look forward to, because he never challenges Selina. Like in the military, he’d never question a general. He believes in that hierarchy and the necessity of taking the orders and following them for the machine to work. It felt very contentious to really dig in against her opinion and call her out on things, and it felt very real. She was shocked, like, "Now I’m getting stuff from you? I’ve never gotten lip from you." Any departure for a character is a real joy.

On days like this, does Mike think this job is worth it?

Certainly this episode is a low point for Mike. He questions pulling the trigger on leaving. It comes and goes -- it’s not every day, but days like this do push him to the cliff of [getting] out of this game completely. I don’t know that he ever will, but it’s a real conundrum and a real problem for him.

With Dan and Amy already leaving the team, could Mike be next? How loyal is he to Selina?

He’s not the ambitious type like Dan or Amy. He’s obviously very loyal to Selina, but he’s had 20 years with her, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to step away. He’d probably go home to be a house dad or go on his boat. If somebody wanted him to be a pundit on a Crossfire-type show or give a speech at Georgetown or something, he’d be all over that and take the easiest jobs possible to make a living. People would think he’s more talented and more connected than he is, so he would probably milk that for a little bit.

What network would go after him? How do you think that would go?

It would go horribly. They'd pull him on CNN, and then he’d probably fall to CNBC and wouldn’t do great. Somebody might offer him a book deal, which he would probably take five years to finish, so Wendy would probably help him write it. He’d continue to probably fail upwards. He might even end up going on one of those bad reality shows.

This episode also saw the return of Kathy Najimy as Wendy, Mike’s wife, one of the few characters with a life outside the White House. Can their relationship survive him working at this new position?

It’s a tough proposition. The benefit is that he married late in life, and his wife was a reporter and knows the political game. She understands, but it isn’t happy times a lot of the time. It’s tough for both of them. He found someone nice and compatible, and it is a big reason [why] he’s questioning whether he wants to be doing this for another four or eight years.

Reid Scott mentioned that on show’s spectrum of assholes, Mike would be on the lowest end. Do you agree with that?

(Laughs) He has probably the least amount of ego of the characters on the show. He has peacekeeper instincts; he wants people to get along, so he’s willing to keep quiet his own opinions for the team. [But] he’s not above kicking someone when they’re down, especially if it’s Jonah or a political enemy. He has that asshole element in him. He might overcelebrate a small victory like the rest of them.

Thoughts on tonight’s episode? Curious to see where the Meyer administration goes from here? Sound off in the comments below!

Veep airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.

Twitter: @NotPhelan

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