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Mitt Romney knows a thing or two about losing a presidential election, which is why the minds behind Veep approached him ahead of their new season.
The sixth cycle of the HBO political satire, which premiered Sunday, heads into uncharted territory as it follows former President Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) life after the White House. After losing the presidency on last season’s finale, Selina and her staff were scattered beyond the confines of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the first time on the series.
“We’ve talked to people on both sides of the aisle,” Louis-Dreyfus told Jimmy Kimmel during a visit to his late-night show Wednesday. Veep has never identified which party Selina and her staff belong to, which, she added, “has worked very well, particularly now, because everything is so polarized.”
That decision results in real politicians, both Democrat and Republican, being fans of Veep — including former President Barack Obama and Romney, who lost to Obama in 2012.
“It was really useful [to speak with Romney] because we really wanted to talk to him about what it’s like to lose,” said Louis-Dreyfus on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “The thing about Mitt Romney is, he is very dedicated to his family and he has a life well beyond politics, which of course Selina Meyer does not.”
Showrunner David Mandel spoke to THR about Romney’s influence on Selina’s sixth-season journey after the premiere, explaining how “un-Selina” Romney is, which helped them better map out her trajectory.
“He’s a wealthy gentleman with this incredible support system,” said Mandel. “Selina doesn’t care about family or have her mother’s money anymore, so she doesn’t have that to fall back on. All the things that helped him when he lost, she has none of that. We realized she’s going to have it really hard.”
Louis-Dreyfus said they even took a line right from Romney’s mouth and used it in the show.
When asking him about his memorable “47 percent” moment during the campaign (when a leaked video of him claiming 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes went viral), this is what he told the Veep star.
“The truth is, when you’re running, if you’re explaining, you’re losing,” she said, quoting Romney. “I thought that was such a great expression, and we put it into the show.”
She also revealed the story behind casting guest star Amy Brenneman, who appears on Sunday’s episode as Selina’s old college roommate.
“Last year we had a scene in the show in which Richard Splett [Sam Richardson] is having a conversation with another character and is very nervous and he starts talking about a movie he likes, Heat, and the two actors in Heat being so fabulous, such heavy hitters: ‘De Niro and Brenneman,'” she explained. “For those of you who don’t know, the real actor was [Al] Pacino.”
She said the Leftovers actress is a big fan of Veep and tweeted at the star: “I love your show. I’d love to be in it. Maybe I could play Selina’s college roommate that she experimented sexually with” (referencing a joke from the show).
On Sunday’s episode, Selina and her team visit her old alma mater, Smith College, while in pursuit of her plans for a presidential library, and Brenneman plays her former roommate who is now president of the school. Sexual experimentation jokes ensue.
After hearing both of her stories, Kimmel called Romney and Brenneman “uncredited” writers on the upcoming season. “You should give Mitt and Amy one of your Emmys,” he joked to Louis-Dreyfus. “You have too many anyway.”
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