'I don’t want to wear out our welcome,' says the star, explaining why the HBO comedy is ending next year
Once again, the people have spoken: On Sunday, they elected Veep as our supreme series and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as our comedy commander-in-chief.
For the third year in a row, Veep claimed the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy, holding off competition from younger, buzzy shows such as Atlanta (creator Donald Glover won acting and directing trophies) and Master of None (star Lena Waithe and co-creator Aziz Ansari took home a writing statue). And in an even more impressive feat, Louis-Dreyfus made history by grabbing the Lead Actress trophy for a record sixth consecutive time for her role as VP-turned-POTUS-turned-candidate Selina Meyer, and in the process, tied Cloris Leachman for overall individual wins with eight.
It was all welcome if surprising news, considering the evening didn’t start well for the critically admired HBO comedy, losing in its first few categories. “There weren’t a lot of signs for that — we kind of got the sh– kicked out of us the first six awards,” Veep showrunner David Mandel tells EW. “When Donald Glover won for actor and directing,” admits Louis-Dreyfus, “I thought we were done.”
They weren’t, of course. But Louis-Dreyfus is typically gracious and deferential about her impressive dominance. “Obviously you’re always hoping to win and thinking you’re going to lose,” she tells EW. “I’m flummoxed by all of it … I thought [Black-ish star] Tracee Ellis Ross was going to win because she deserves to win. She’s so great, and she’s an amazing comedian. So I felt a little guilty winning because I thought maybe she should win.” (Asked if her trophy case has now expanded into multiple rooms, Louis-Dreyfus quips sheepishly, “I have a really small office in my house, so I sort of look like a hoarder.”)
Mandel was much more eager to sing Louis-Dreyfus’ praises and to speak to her reign of excellence. “I had the advantage of working with her all those years ago,” he says. “She basically ruined most actresses for me back then. I get to see her every day and I get to think of stuff to tell her like, ‘You’re happy but you’re also really angry,’ [and see her do] things that no human should be able to do. As much as maybe people go, ‘Well, she’s won so many times,’ how do you argue when you watch what she does? I think one day there will be a stamp, the same way there’s a Lucy stamp. You will be talking about her in that very small group of the Lucille Balls, the Mary Tyler Moores, the Julia Louis-Dreyfuses…. There will be a goddamn stamp.”
Veep‘s two big wins held extra significance for Louis-Dreyfus, given the recent news that Veep will end after next season. In other words, this was the second-to-last time that she’ll attend the Emmys (and let’s face it, likely be on stage) with the Veep team. “I’m relishing every second of this because I’ve been through the end of a series on multiple occasions,” she says. “But this will be the second time in my life in which I know it’s coming to a close by our own fruition because we made the decision — and it’s a bittersweet moment.”
How tough was that decision to end Veep after the upcoming seventh season? “Really tough,” she answers. “For a long time, I thought, maybe we should do eight seasons. But then creatively when we were talking about stories, it really felt like there was a finality… It felt inappropriate to go beyond season 7 and I do not want to squander — not squander; squander’s not the right word — I don’t want to f— this up, and I don’t want to wear out our welcome.”
Mandel praised HBO for being open to the possibility of ending the series after seven or eight seasons, and initially he, like Louis-Dreyfus, was leaning to an extra season. “They were open to whatever we wanted, and honestly I went into it probably thinking it was more like two,” he says. “I won’t lie, I’m the new guy. I’m Ron Wood. I didn’t want it to end. But as we just started talking, talking, and talking, one day it was like, ‘I think it’s a year. F—.’ But I’d sooner kill myself than stretch it out, and then once it was a year, it was a year. And I got to sit with [Louis-Dreyfus] and take her through it, and we talked about it and she was like, ‘F—, it’s a year.’ And that’s the beauty of it. We’ve always let the show dictate the show.”
In the recently concluded season 6, Selina concentrated on her legacy (see: presidential library) before indicating in the season finale that she’d make a surprise presidential run. What extremely early hint can the duo drop about the final season, which premieres next year?
“New Selina Now,” says Mandel, while Louis-Dreyfus teases, “Selina Meyer really wants it.”
Last Sunday night, similar to the five Emmy nights preceding it, she got it.