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How he ended up on Veep
I got a call from my agent saying there’s a possibility of a part on Veep. That’s like saying to someone, “How would you like to go to heaven?” I drove to the audition and was a nervous wreck. I got the name of the street wrong and had to ask 12 different people how to get there. I got in there, sweating like a pig — mind you, I’m a man in his 70s who has been in this business for 40 years. I did the audition, and they liked it, I guess, because they called and said, “We want you to do another audition, and this time, it will be with Julia [Louis-Dreyfus].”
How he found out he was nominated for best guest actor in a comedy series
I didn’t know they submitted me. I didn’t know anything about it until all of a sudden my daughter called and said, “Dad, congratulations — you’ve been nominated for an Emmy.” I said, “What!” I’ve been in this business 40 years. I’ve never been nominated. It was pretty astounding.
The Bob Bradley character trait he tapped into the most
I just turned 73. I have to realize that — in so many cases — being on in years is a detriment. In a lot of roles, people want to play younger than they are. In the case of Bob Bradley, he is past his prime, so that was something I tapped into.
The life lesson from his limited time on set
I realized — and I hate the word “organic,” but it’s really apt in this case — when you’re dealing with a show as organic as Veep, it’s liable to change at the drop of a hat. The line will change, you’ll improvise something or we’ll go on to a different episode. You have to prepare to be unprepared. It brings a freshness to things, which is really terrific.
What The Eagle would do next if he got an extended life on Veep
It would be interesting if he finds out he’s a clairvoyant and can talk to the ghosts of previous presidents. Every now and then they would say, “Well, what would Kennedy do?” And he would say, “Hold on, let me ask him.” Gary [Tony Hale] would go nuts.
What his spinoff show would be
Almost like that old show Topper, where, in fact, I can talk to ghosts. That he’s a White House fixture who is only there as a clairvoyant. I can talk to Stalin. I can talk to Churchill. I think that’s a show.
If he has any indication if The Eagle will return for Veep in season six
I don’t at this point. Seeing the way the minds work for those writers, lord knows what they’ve come up with. This whole thing could be taking place on the moon next year.
How he imagines the show looking with Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) out of the White House
If you had told me what the 2017 presidential race is going to look like, I would never have put together anything close to what’s actually really happening. Add to that the idea that it’s written and it’s television? Sky’s the limit.
If he plans to return to CBS’ Life in Pieces, where daughter Maggie Mull is story editor
I’m doing it again. I’ve got a little scene with Dianne Wiest where we’re going to get high together.
A version of this story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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