SXSW: Julia Louis-Dreyfus Says 'Veep' Prez Would Tell 'House of Cards' Prez to "Lighten Up"

Lacey Terrell/HBO

As for that insult "Jolly Green Jizzface?" Yup, she wrote it.

How would President Selina Meyer, the upwardly failing politician at the center of HBO's hit comedy Veep, advise Frank Underwood, her conniving counterpart on HBO's House of Cards? 

According to Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, she'd tell Kevin Spacey's character, "Lighten up." 

That was just one of the many tasty moments to emerge from a South by Southwest conversation with the show's Emmy-winning star (three times for playing Meyer, once for The New Adventures of Old Christine and another for her work on Seinfeld). Louis-Dreyfus was joined onstage Monday morning in a cavernous ballroom at the Austin Convention Center by her co-stars Matt Walsh and Sam Richardson.

Louis-Dreyfus, 54, revealed that certain developments in the show's fourth season—in which Meyer becomes commander-in-chief after "POTUS" steps down to care for his ailing wife—will pave the way for seasons to come. "I think there is longevity in this series," she said with a smile. "I think there's lots more stories to be told. Rest assured it will be a series of humiliations that all of us can enjoy."

The show is overseen by celebrated British satirist Armando Iannucci, but Louis-Dreyfus—who as producer offers editing notes on every episode—said the "secret sauce" comes in the collaborative process among the writers and cast. Many of them, like Walsh, Richardson and Timothy Simons, are gifted improvisers. "The approach is, if somebody has an idea, let’s hear it," she said.

The series has become a must-see among Beltway insiders, many of them aides who pitch cameos for their powerful bosses. But unlike other political shows like The Good Wife and Parks and Recreation, which trade in those kinds of stunty walk-ons, Veep keeps things strictly fictional.

"[It would break] our Veep reality," Louis-Dreyfus explained. "We don't refer at all to present American politics. I think there was a Nixon reference in season 4—but beyond that, it's beyond history. It helps the comedy." 

A question-and-answer session briefly devolved into chaos after a woman mounted the stage to take a selfie with the star—and awkwardly shunned Richardson. It was a scene that could easily have unfolded on Veep.

But some revelatory moments followed. Yes, Louis-Dreyfus can dance, even if her Seinfeld character Elaine cannot. Her favorite swear-word is "f–k." ("It's perfect as an adjective, a noun, an adverb.") Asked which politician Selina would find "most sponge-worthy," to borrow a Seinfeld term, she played it safe, reaching back to Woodrow Wilson.

And when an audience member shouted out a favorite colorful insult from a series that excels at them—"Jolly Green Jizzface," spoken by Selina to Simons' sycophantic Jonah Ryan—Louis-Dreyfus proudly took credit for it.

"I'm happy to report that 'Jolly Green Jizzface' was mine," she said.

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