Julia Louis-Dreyfus is in a very familiar position this morning: Emmy nominee. The Veep star and executive producer has received the 25th nomination of her celebrated career, and her seventh in the role of ruthless POTUS Selina Meyer on HBO’s unforgiving political comedy. The 11-time-Emmy winner has taken home the acting statue eight times (six times for Veep, once for The New Adventures of Old Christine, and once for Seinfeld). She has claimed more Emmys for the same role than any actor or actress in history (and is tied with Cloris Leachman for most individual wins at eight). Let’s check in with the most powerful Emmy nominee who shined once again as the most powerful person in the world.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you find out about your nomination today — other than perhaps just intuiting it from every single Emmy prediction column?
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: Well, I certainly did not intuit it. They used to have these nominations, as I recall, much earlier in the morning. So, seven o’clock, I didn’t get a call, I was like, “Uh-oh. I don’t think things worked out for us this year.” [Laughs]. I got a text from somebody later this morning. So that’s how I found out.
You’ve been nominated every year of the show, winning all previous times. Does this nomination hold extra importance to you, if only because this will be the last one in the role?
Yes, it does. It’s incredibly important. It’s very meaningful because it is the final season of the show and we poured our hearts and souls and blood and sweat and tears into making this final season. So it’s particularly precious that this has happened.
The pressure on a show, especially one as revered as Veep, to stick the landing seems to have increased over the years. How validating did it feel for this show to finish strong with all of the critical acclaim for the final season — and then today’s nominations? [Veep, a three-time winner as Outstanding Comedy Series, was nominated again.]
It’s supremely satisfying. I don’t know how else to say it. We worked really hard. We wanted to stick the landing. We wanted to make an excellent final season. That was our goal. And the fact that this is now happened that we were able to get it done — you know, it might’ve been otherwise, and I’m just astounded that we pulled it all off. Really.
The win-at-all costs, collateral-damage-be-damned mentality of Selina this year was both delicious and disturbing to watch. You had said that you felt it was a fitting way to end it. What did you hear from your friends and people on the street when they saw the full power of Selina in the finale?
A lot of people were, shall I say, pleasantly disturbed by it. I mean, even I was disturbed by it. It was upsetting to do and it was upsetting to put together and it was even upsetting to watch — even though I knew the show backwards or forwards. Selina sort of got what she wanted — or so she thought. When the show actually aired and the cast and staff and writers all watched it together… Tony Hale had to excuse himself and go to the bathroom [laughs] and weep a little bit more,. Because it was hard. I mean, my own mother was like, “How could you do that to Gary?” And I had to, of course, remind her that I was playing the character and that I, Julia, don’t behave like that in life, but it was very strangely satisfying to end it that way.
Was there a moment or line this season that you were really proud of, or one where you thinking, “I never thought in my career that I’d get to say or do blank,” or “I can’t believe I got away with blank?”
There are many… Well, I would say that in the final episode when Gary leans into Selina and says very discreetly and softly, “Do you want six almonds?” And then she screams full force in his face, “No!” That was like being in a cartoon. [Laughs] That was like playing a cartoon character in that moment, bringing a cartoon to life. That was very satisfying to do — and I can’t believe we did it.
And the way he falls, too, is so cartoonish.
Isn’t it incredible? And he takes the map with him. Did you notice there’s a map that’s on the couch and he takes it all down with him? [Laughs] Just thinking about it still makes me laugh. It was very hard to get too because I was laughing so hard every time.
Speaking of yelling, how happy were you for Peter MacNicol finally getting a Veep nomination? [In 2016, his Emmy nomination was revoked after it was determined that he had appeared in five of 10 episodes; guest nominees could appear only in less than 50 percent of the episodes.]
I haven’t called him yet! I’ve got to call him. I’m thrilled! I am thrilled for him, particularly given what happened. But this year he was in just the right amount of episodes, and he certainly deserves it, because every time that man came to set and performed — let me just tell you this. People who are not in the scene with him would come to set to watch him do his thing. I mean, that is how genuinely funny everybody on our show found him to be. He had a fan club within the Veep universe that was a very large group.
Christina Applegate, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Natasha Lyonne, Catherine O’Hara, and Rachel Brosnahan are all nominated in your category. If you weren’t rooting for yourself, is there one of those actresses you’d like to hand the trophy to — or did one their performances particularly impress you this year?
Well, let me just start by saying I’m f—ed! [Laughs] Because all of those women are extraordinarily talented and have totally nailed the roles that they’re playing this year. So I can just say that it’s a very, very stiff category, and I’m a fan of every single one of the ladies in this group. That’s the truth.
And what’s one prediction you’re willing to make about this year’s Emmy ceremony?
Umm…. I will have a snack in my clutch.
- Veep: 11 storylines you never got to see
- Veep stars choose their all-time favorite scenes
- Watch Veep star Timothy Simons read unaired Jonah insults
- Veep finale: Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale break down that brutal Selina-Gary moment
- Veep showrunner David Mandel breaks down series finale: Selina ‘got what she deserved’