Julia Louis-Dreyfus on 'Veep' Staying Away From Trump's "Shit Show"

Veep finale JLD HBO - H

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has the potential to win her sixth consecutive best actress in a comedy Emmy at this year's awards show, but the Veep star is more concerned with her character Selina Meyer's future.

The season six finale of her HBO comedy, "Groundbreaking," brought her ex-POTUS' desire to run for the presidency again full circle. The final moments saw Selina, no longer damaged goods, reuniting the original gang (save for Matt Walsh's Mike McLintock) and heading back onto the campaign trail. After tracking Selina's post-presidential life during a season that kept its distance from the White House — and put her through a mental breakdown, followed by a heart attack — Louis-Dreyfus says she's been happy to not to have to compete with the Trump "shit show." And just because Selina plans to run doesn't mean she will win. 

Below, in a candid chat with The Hollywood Reporter, the star and producer reveals some plans for the seventh season, recalls the two scenes that were "nearly impossible" for her to get through (one, of course, with Tony Hale) and explains how she knows Hillary Clinton does not have Veep on her TiVo. 

This year brings you to your 23rd Emmy nomination —

Get the fuck out of here, is that true?

According to the Emmy website it is. How does being nominated this year feel different?

It always feels different. There’s always a possibility that you’re not going to get nominated — there will come a day! So there’s always a certain amount of anxiety leading up to it. But it was particularly satisfying because the show got the most nominations it’s ever received for the season and that was really superb. We were all really psyched about that. {Last year, Veep also initially earned 17 nominations, but one was later disqualified.]

At this point, you are breaking your own records. Does that put more or less pressure on you when it comes to winning?

Honestly, the real pressure is keeping this thing going, and by “this thing,” I mean the show and trying to keep up this level of excellence. We’re just now breaking stories for season seven and that’s honestly the real pressure. It’s fantastic to win — don’t misunderstand me: Winning is awesome, I love it, it’s fantastic — but the work itself is the pressure-cooker. The real work is elsewhere, that's the truth.

When showrunner David Mandel came on board Veep, he pitched this last two-season arc to you. How much do you know about what the writers have planned for next season at this point?

I know as much as they know. I know what the over-arching idea is. Our writers are just breaking down story now and trying to get an outline going, which is the way Mandel likes to manage the room — which seems to work very well. So that is where we’re at right now in terms of story. We have an over-arching idea and now it’s just a question of getting a shit-ton of details and character stuff in there. Smaller stories within stories.

What excites you most about Selina going back on the campaign trail, and are you happy that the show is still keeping its distance from the real White House? Just because she's running, doesn't mean she will win — and either way, she has a ways to go. 

I’m delighted to be as far away from the White House as possible, just personally. I don’t think we can compete with that shit show. But as far as our little shit show goes (laughs), I’m thrilled to be getting back out there on the campaign trail with Selina because she’s a fighter. She is a political animal, through and through. I’m looking forward to exercising that muscle of her character. She is just staggeringly competitive, and that’s fun to get into.

What is the biggest misconception about Selina?

Boy, that’s a good question. Well, if anyone thinks of her as a compassionate human being, that would be a misconception. She is very narcissistic and hugely undeveloped, emotionally. She’s her own worst enemy and she gets in her own way, in terms of fundamental happiness (laughs). It’s funny. This is not Mr. Smith Goes to Washington — she is not an earnest, ethically minded, morally centered human being. And if she was, it would be a different kind of show. We need all the conflict we can get to make this as funny as possible.

A lot of people say the show is about how incompetent she is, but as this season finale showed, she is capable of getting to where she wants. Will next season explore both sides of that — Selina falling into her wins but also earning some?

There has to be a certain amount of victory for a show to work. Despite the fact that we know she’s a nut-job, you sort of are rooting for her. And in doing so, it’s really nice to revel in these small victories that she might have, be it Tibet or whatever it happens to be. Those moments are lovely to roll around in. Also, to a certain extent as a viewer, you know it’s going to be fleeting. You know the shit’s about to hit the fan again. There’s something sort of wonderful about that push-pull.

Over the course of the season, I've spoken with Mandel about the unintentional parallel with Hillary Clinton losing the election, and Selina having to discover who she is outside of politics. Did that make filming this season even more emotional for you to play?

We obviously went into this season not having any idea what the real American political outcome was going to be, so I think that you could apply the same thing, to a certain extent, to any ex-president. Of course, Hillary was never a president, but after you’ve been in office and after you leave office, who are you? And, what are you now? So it was more about that. Except that when Selina was in office, she was only there by default and not for very long. It has an incredible bitterness to it, which is also a good area for comedy. But the parallels between Selina and Hillary, I’m not sure how there they are, except to say they are both female politicians.

Did you ever end up hearing from Hillary Clinton's camp about if she was watching this season?

No. (Laughs.) I would think the last thing on Hillary Clinton’s TiVo would be Veep, I have to say. And I completely understand! I can’t even imagine. I would think she would be watching more of Game of Thrones or Westworld before she would be watching Veep. And I’m not knocking my show, I love my show, but it’s like, enough already.

Have you started your outreach to real politicians for next season?

We have, actually. We’ve been talking to some journalists. We’re talking to the people who wrote Shattered [Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign] and we’re talking to one of [Barack] Obama’s speechwriters. It’s all starting up.

If Selina had been male, what is something about Veep that would be totally different?

He’d be president still is my guess!

If you could switch roles with another Emmy nominee in any category, who would that be and why?

I wouldn’t mind playing John Oliver’s role [on Last Week Tonight]. I would love to go into a deep-dive into various political topics. I love what he does. I think it’s amazing how he found a very new and insightful way to discuss current issues, which I think is extraordinary. I would love to trade places with him. Except, I would suck at it. But I love what he does.

Will we be seeing any cameos from you on the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm?

No, they finished filming that already.

If Selina could join any other TV show, which show would it be and why?

It would be The Simpsons because I think it’s the funniest comedy on television.

Was there one line this season that you had trouble getting through on Veep — either because it was so funny or had so many "fucks" in one line?

There are a couple. When I was lying in that single bed next to Tony Hale [in the fourth episode, "Justice”] and when I give him the food (laughs) and he says, “Oh, you put blue cheese in it.” And I say, “No, there’s no blue cheese.” (Laughs.) That was really, almost impossible to get through. And the other thing that was impossible to get through was the scene in the so-called “spa,” in the final episode ["Groundbreaking"] when Andrew [David Pasquesi] comes. I was drenched in so much sweat at the end of that because on the last take, I warned him. I said, “When you come down for that kiss, I’m going for it.” I can barely watch it, it is so disgusting. (Laughs.) It’s actually making me sweat right now, even reliving it. That was just grotesque.