By Dan Snierson
May 12, 2019 at 04:52 PM EDT
Credit: Colleen Hayes/HBO

Julia Louis-Dreyfus calls it “the perfect bookend to the series.” Tony Hale warns ominously: “You reap what you sow.” And Timothy Simons sums up: “It’ll be a nice reminder that Veep was incredibly funny—and holy f—, those are not good people.”

Those are just a few of the ways that the stars of HBO’s darker-than-a Game-of-Thrones-battle comedy describe the send-off of self-concerned Selina Meyer. Airing Sunday at 10:50 p.m., the supersized series finale of the Emmy-nabbing, critically beloved political comedy wraps up seven seasons of staff gaffes and devastating insults while revealing whether vain, amoral VP-turned-president-turned-civilian-turned-candidate Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) can defeat opponents formidable (Toks Olagundoye’s Kemi) and foolish (Simons’ Jonah), and return to (what she thinks is) her rightful place in the Oval Office.

A few days ago, Veep showrunner David Mandel dropped seven hints about the finale. Below, the stars of Veep reveal how they felt about ending the show now, what pressure these Veep vets felt to make a fitting finale, what it felt like to film the last-ever episode, and what possibly awaits these malicious misfits in the final installment.

On the decision to end the show after seven seasons

Julia Louis-Dreyfus: When we were having lengthy conversations and soul-searching conversations amongst ourselves, and we tried to think about, “What would season 8 be? How could we map out season 7 and then season 8?,” it felt incorrect. It felt like we were stretching story for the sake of doing another season. The storytelling dictated the end of the show. It felt right.

Tony Hale (Gary): They had a really great idea for the ending and they wanted to wrap it up, and we didn’t want to extend our welcome. But the emotional side of me who loves these people — we’ve just created such a vibe and a chemistry — was like, “Let’s keep going.” So I had to separate those two a little bit.

Sarah Sutherland (Catherine): I wasn’t stunned just because it really felt like we were getting away with murder. We were on this show on HBO that had done so many seasons, and I don’t think was developed with the intention of having gone so many seasons. So, every renewed year just felt like such a blessing. And I think it did feel like it was the right time.

Sam Richardson (Richard): In my head, I always thought we were going to do eight seasons, honestly. Like a two-term president. So that was my first [reaction]: “Oh, I thought we were going to do eight.” But the thing is to go out on the highest note. And I think seven does that, really. All the stories just converge, and this is the right way.

Matt Walsh (Mike): I was surprised because I always felt like, “We’ll at least do eight,” for some reason. In truth, I would do the show forever. It’s a joy, the writing is the best, the characters are good, and people really care about it. That rarely happens that you have both a good show and passion for it. But I also understand that very rarely do you get to step out on your own terms. This afforded us a season where we could wrap up the character and the stories and have it land somewhere that we like. So, it’s bittersweet… You never want to overstay your welcome. It tarnishes a bit the work you did before that.

Gary Cole (Kent): With all the weapons we had in place, yeah, sure, we could’ve done two or three more [seasons]. But you want the show to be remembered for the edge and the tone it had.

Reid Scott (Dan): When they gave us that news, at first I was like, “Oh, s—. I’m out of a job. And within five minutes and probably a glass of whiskey later, I was like, “No, you know what? This the right thing to do. We’ve created something so beautiful. Don’t cheapen it.”

On the pressure to cement the show’s impressive legacy

Louis-Dreyfus: There was enormous pressure. Everyone felt it. We had to stick this landing on every level. Every level. Because everyone knew this was it. And I think everyone —everyone — across all departments felt fiercely protective of the work we’d done to this point. We had to demonstrate with this finale that the show was worthy of this protection.

Scott: You’ve got to tie up storylines, you’ve got to tie up character arcs, you’ve got to give a satisfying finish for the audience, and that’s incredibly hard. That being said, I don’t think any of us in the cast doubted for a minute that they weren’t going to deliver because they always do. It’s always in the eleventh hour. That’s just the nature of Veep. But they always deliver. And when Dave told us what he had planned, I remember all of us being like, “Oh my god, that is wild. That’s big. Can we pull that off? That would be so f—ing cool if we can actually do that. But can we actually pull that off?”

Timothy Simons (Jonah): I don’t think anybody was concerned about the history book part of it as much as they were concerned about sticking the landing — wanting to get it right in the last one. Everybody was in that zone of wanting to make sure that everything stayed true to the show itself. Just because it’s the last episode or just because you’re coming toward the end, you can’t all of a sudden switch it up to make it a historic thing. What’s going to be satisfying is: Did the show stay true all the way through?

On filming the final episode

Kevin Dunn (Ben): It was a very tough episode to write, and they just kept hammering it and hammering on it, even while we were shooting it, to make it work the right way and to really go out with a bang. They never stopped. They just kept writing until the last scene was finished.

Anna Chlumsky (Amy): The last two weeks, which started with the last table read, Julia set the tone. She allowed us all to just let open the floodgates. It just gave everybody permission to feel exactly what we were feeling, whether it was anxiety, or upset, or gratitude, or laughter… I still have dreams at least four times a week about those days.

Clea Duvall (Marjorie): I was scared to read it. I wanted it to be good… We all cried all the way through the last table read and cried the entire week we were shooting it. I couldn’t look at Tim Simons or Tony the entire week without crying.

Simons: It’s like a very joyous firing squad.

Hale: I didn’t expect to be as emotional as I was. You’re sitting there and you’re just remembering the many years of being in Baltimore [where the show was filmed for the first four seasons], when we were all away from our families and we became our own family. And we would hang out at night and go to Julia’s hotel room and play cards and drink wine, and then moving to L.A. and going to each other’s houses — the stuff outside of work. Then being on set and laughing and eating together and just catching up on each other’s lives. You’re just remembering all of that and then you’re thinking, “Oh, right. Now that chapter is closed.”

Louis-Dreyfus: We all hung out in Selina’s office for a long time afterward. I’d taken the wig off and I had my hair all pulled back because it’s got all this gunk in it, and Dave and I had our heads together, and I felt like we’d just been through labor and delivery. I felt like we, as a group, had just given birth to this wonderful, ginormous baby. We were exhausted, physically and emotionally spent, but incredibly happy. It was a happy depletion and… letting go.

On how the final episode wraps up the series

Duvall: It’s not what I thought it would be and it’s exactly right. I feel like I’m going to cry just thinking about it. It’s very appropriate, and I think it will be very satisfying in the dark way that Veep is satisfying.

Louis-Dreyfus: It’s a lovely match to the full run, a lovely match to the very beginning. It makes sense on so many levels for every single character. A lot of attention was paid to every single character in the show. A lot of though was put into, “Where do we want them to end up?” And I’m very proud of them. I think Dave and all of our writers did an absolutely magnificent job in terms of attention to detail. A lot of tender loving care was put in. By the way, it’s as dark as it could possibly be while, I hope, remaining very funny. But it’s incredibly dark.

Chlumsky: I didn’t expect what we did…. I looked at Dave and I was just crying. I just kept telling him, “That last joke is like a love letter,” and he was like, “We’re fans!” It was really cool. I hope that people feel the way I do, where they love it and see how poignant and really just loving it is.

Richardson: I think people will walk away feeling satisfied. So satisfied, and surprised.…. People get what they deserve. And a lot of people maybe get to be who they’ve always been. And you just didn’t realize it. But if you looked through, it’s like that’s who they’ve been the whole time… “Epic” is a perfect word for it. It really does have a grand ending.

Sutherland: It is very Veep-y. It is an atypical structure of an episode but it’s something that is so funny… I think it’ll be outrageous and funny, and it will give people who love the show a little bit of what they want — and a sense of closure.

Walsh: It’s an epic ending. It’s not happy for everybody, I can say that.

Hale: If you invest in power and only thinking about yourself, and that’s the only account that you’re investing in, you will sow pain and sadness.

Dunn: It was very surprising. I didn’t see how they were going to wrap it up, first of all. Things were kind of evolving and then all of a sudden, you’re on episode 6 and it was like, “Well, how do we put an end to this?” I think it was a pretty brilliant way of what they did to put the cap on it.

Scott: Veep is not a maudlin show — it’s not even a sentimental show — so it’s not like, “Oh, what a sweet fond farewell.” It dials Veep all the way up, so it’s a fitting end for the series in that Veep has never pulled punches. This episode is no different. Veep has always been irreverent. This episode is no different. Veep has always pushed the envelope. We always bend it without breaking it. This episode is no different. There are a lot of finales that I’ve seen that are like, “Wow, that really stands on its own. It doesn’t even fit in with the rest of the series for some reason.” This does. And it’s very satisfying.

Cole: It satisfied me.

Simons: It stays true to itself…. It will probably fit into that thing of, “This really made laugh. I loved spending time all those people. And holy s—, they are the worst group of people who I’ve ever seen.”

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