Clockwise from left: 'Veep' actors Reid Scott, Matt Walsh, Timothy Simons, Sam Richardson, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole and Tony Hale were photographed on March 31 at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.
Clockwise from left: 'Veep' actors Reid Scott, Matt Walsh, Timothy Simons, Sam Richardson, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole and Tony Hale were photographed on March 31 at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.
Ramona Rosales

The Men of 'Veep': Tony Hale, Gary Cole and 5 More on Their Best Insults, Trump vs. Selina

by Stephanie Fischette, Jennifer Laski, Jared Rosenthal, Jackie Strause
April 28, 2017, 7:00am PDT

Seven funnyman foils suit up for a comedy council on the inner workings of HBO's D.C. parody, from what scandal would finally take Selina down to the difference between the show's president and the country's real-life leader: "One is a f—ing clown ... and the other is played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus."

Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Selina Meyer may no longer be president, but the men of HBO's Veep found themselves in the Oval Office (an L.A. photo set version, that is) for a day this spring. Rather than don D.C. attire as they would on the Emmy-winning comedy ­— which returned for its sixth season April 16 — they dressed for the day as clowns, a nod to the unpredictable circus that is politics. The actors styled their own ensembles, right down to the props. "We're versions of our characters," explains Tony Hale (Gary). "So I'm underneath a table, beaten down." Nearly all involved acknowledged some fear of clowns — though when asked which is scarier, a clown or the current president, not one of them hesitated. "Clowns are not as frightening as Donald Trump," says Timothy Simons (Jonah), with Sam Richardson (Richard) cracking: "Clowns aren't going to eradicate the EPA."

In what ways are President Trump and Selina Meyer the same — or different?

TIMOTHY SIMONS Donald Trump and Selina Meyer are the same in that they are both completely incompetent, but only one is going to kill us.

MATT WALSH They both pretend they care about poor people, but they don't. And they both have no business being president.

KEVIN DUNN They are both narcissists, but he's more dangerous.

SIMONS One is a piece of trash, and the other one is a TV character.

SAM RICHARDSON Well, they both were TV characters. One was a well-written one, and the other one was Donald Trump.

SIMONS One is a f—ing clown …

REID SCOTT … And the other one is played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

What's the last Veep storyline that happened in real life?

SCOTT The flower scandal was a thing.

RICHARDSON The data breach was a thing.

SCOTT Pretty much everything we've ever done.

DUNN The Chinese hacking thing.

GARY COLE We did it about three weeks before the actual story hit the news.

SIMONS That's one of the things that we talk about a lot, the fact that pretty much every season the writers try to come up with what's the dumbest thing a politician could possibly do, and then invariably between the time we shoot it and the time it airs, somebody has done something that stupid.

SCOTT That's why last season was so difficult for the writers. That election cycle? How do you top that?

What scandal would finally take Selina down?

SCOTT C—gate didn't do it.

SIMONS Public masturbation-gate?

SCOTT I feel like she'd get a giant bounce in the polls from that.

SIMONS Full-on punch a baby-gate?

DUNN F—ed the wrong guy-gate?

COLE Nah, she's done that already, three or four times.

What event or controversy would you love to tackle on Veep?

WALSH The Olympics would be fun.

TONY HALE Selina would want to light the torch — and she'd be more concerned with her running outfit than helping unite the world.

WALSH She'd probably get involved in the opening ceremonies.

HALE Involved? She'd want to be the headliner. And my character would say, "As she should."

Your favorite Veep insult?

WALSH I liked "f—tard."

DUNN My favorite is "jagoff." "He's such a jagoff." I've worked it in a couple of times.

SIMONS Of the ones Selina has thrown at me, it's Jolly Green Jizz Face, which is also, for some reason, what people choose to approach me with at the grocery store now. But the one that really hurt the most was when they just said I was the wrong shape.

RICHARDSON The insults on the show are about the person. So, he's not acting that way, that's just the way he looks. It's an insult to Tim Simons as much as it is to Jonah Ryan.

SIMONS Sometimes they'll come in, look you up and down, go away and then an alt [line] comes in, "You look like melted play dough on a flagpole." (Laughs.)

Who's the last real-life politician who wanted to cameo on Veep?

SIMONS Gov. [Martin] O'Malley really wanted to be on the show.

SCOTT He's the former governor of Maryland. He's a very nice guy, but you could tell he really wanted to be on the show as himself, and to be portrayed in only a positive light, which is not what the show does.

If Selina's aide Gary, who's played by Tony Hale, wrote a book about her, what would the title be?

DUNN My Selina, My Life.

COLE The Hot Patriot.

HALE The Risen Jesus or The Second Coming. She'd love it so much that she would buy a thousand copies.

WALSH And then give one to everyone she meets.

Which of you is most likely to break during a scene?


HALE It's just a funny show, guys. It's a really funny show, and somebody needs to keep the joy going. (Laughs.)

This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.