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Donald Trump might be president, but don’t expect him to pop up in the political satire on Veep.
Showrunner David Mandel told audiences at SXSW on Monday that the new season, which premieres April 16 on HBO, was drafted almost entirely in June 2016, well before the election. And even if Hillary Clinton had won, this version of season six would still exist.
“There are the occasional jokes, but we’re not SNL, and if we try and make a joke about Trump on Veep it will be old by the time it airs,” said Mandel, who took the helm at the start of the fifth season following the departure of creator Armando Iannuci. “For us, tragedy plus time equals comedy.”
Mandel was joined in Austin by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the rest of the Veep cast — Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, Reid Scott, Matt Walsh, Gary Cole, Tim Simons and Sam Richardson — for a panel moderated by Chuck Todd. The upcoming sixth season will follow former Veep (and POTUS) Selina Meyer (Dreyfus) as she navigates a civilian life after leaving office.
The talk, which happened on the same day that HBO released a trailer for the upcoming season, ranged from how current affairs might impact the show to how Selena’s new position in life will impact the other characters.
Selina’s Obama Moment
While Trump might not act as a huge inspiration for the season, former President Barack Obama might. Mandel said, “Keep your eyes on Obama. What’s exciting for us — as you’re seeing him signing a book deal — don’t be surprised if Selina signs a book deal, although not for as much money.” He also said her character could venture into humanitarian work.
The Future of Veep
Louis-Dreyfus joked that the show could “easily go another 15 or 20 years.” But Mandel noted, “Honestly, all we want it to be is great. If it isn’t that, I hope we have the sense to end it. But as long as it is that, this is just about the greatest thing to do in the world.”
Gary’s Next Act
Hale explained that he’s excited for the audience to see his character’s arc in season six. Now that Selina is out of the Oval Office, he teased, “I get her a lot to myself. I get a lot more one-on-one time with Selina, and I’m very excited about that.”
The cast discussed why HBO is the right network for the show. “We’re nurtured by HBO, really allowed to thrive,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “We were left alone creatively. That never would have happened on a network.” Cole said, “The tone of the show would be different.” And the whole cast agreed that there would be a lot less cursing.
Improv on Set
Despite the quick-witted script, the cast does have the opportunity to play around with improvisation. Mandel explained that sometimes, in an effort to loosen the actors up, he’ll yell “One for fun,” and everyone will use their lines as guidelines as they improv a scene. “It’s sort of whatever happens, happens. But sometimes we do get gold out of it that ends up in the show.”
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