Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Her Emmy Nomination and the End of ‘Veep’

Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Her Emmy Nomination and the End of ‘Veep’

HBO's acclaimed political satire “Veep” may have come to an end after seven seasons this spring — but with an Emmy nomination for best comedy and a seventh acting nomination for Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her portrayal of Selina Meyer, the show still has plenty of reason to celebrate.

Louis-Dreyfus has won best actress in a comedy six times as the show’s vice president (or president, or candidate, depending on which season you’re watching), the most by a performer in a single role. And with eight Emmys in all, Louis-Dreyfus is tied with Cloris Leachman for the most won by an actor.

On Monday afternoon, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus spoke about watching “Veep” come to an end, returning to the series after her cancer diagnosis, and the possibility of a record-breaking win. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

[Here’s what happened at the 2019 Emmy nominations | See a list of Emmy nominees.]

With this chance to break the record for most Emmys ever won by an actor — especially coming back to the awards show after a tough couple of years in your life — what does this nomination mean to you?

The nomination is very meaningful to me because the show is so meaningful to me. Doing this “Veep” thing for the last eight years has been actually a massive part of my life. And it’s been incredibly hard work, but it’s been incredibly buoying. It was something that I really kept my sights on when I was going through my cancer romp. I love the sort of linking arms with these guys and going after this thing that we’re trying to create episode after episode. So the fact that we get Emmy nominations on the heels of all this work is just a complete delight. It really is.

How did you feel about how “Veep” ended? And how do you feel about where Selina ended up?

I was very, very proud of how we finished the series. I feel just every character was well tended to, all these arcs were kind of deftly handled by the writing, and I feel that where Selina ended up was perfect. Because she got what she wanted, or so she thought.

As the show was wrapping up, did you ever have second thoughts about calling it quits?

It was definitely a wrenching time for not just me, but for the whole group, because it’s a very close-knit group of people. But the timing did feel right. I have to say particularly as we were sort of winding it down and we were working on that last episode, it was very hard to do. It was very heartbreaking to say goodbye to these characters. But the fact that it was heartbreaking sort of sent home the message to me even further that it was the right time to end it.

Some of this season’s plot points seemed more closely analogous to D.C. reality than in previous seasons. Was that intended to be kind of a parting jab at Washington?

Well, the show has always been a political satire, so it’s always been a jab at the culture of politics from its inception. It just so happens that we’re in an exceptionally divisive time. The world of Washington doesn’t resemble the world of Washington when we first started making the show.

So for certain, it’s been a challenge to do the show in I would say the last two years, from a creative point of view. But we had the great, wonderful setup that we never identified party in the show, and I think that certainly helped us. And furthermore, not only did we not identify party, but we never really went beyond mentions of Reagan in real American political history. We are an alternate universe, and that was also very helpful. But the show was never set up to be a parody. It was really a show about a political satire in general.

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At times “Veep” seemed like it was seeing how far it could push this almost nihilistic spiral, with Selina dealing with one bleak political scandal after another. But in the end, despite all that, life mostly went on and everything turned out relatively O.K. Were there lessons you wanted people to take away from that?

No, we didn’t approach the writing of the show as trying to send messages. We wanted it to stay true to character — we wanted to make an intelligent finish, and we wanted to make it funny. Sure, maybe there’s a morality tale tucked away in there, but that was not the guiding intention. The guiding intention was to make this, to do it well.

This is the first time in a long time that you haven’t been working on a series. How does that feel?

I’m still doing stuff with the series — I mean, I’m talking to you about it, you know, we’ll be going to the Emmys and stuff like that. I’ve got other projects that I’m working on, so I’m still busy. And by the way, I also get together with a lot of these people a lot of the time. Although we’re not making the show right now, we’re all very much in touch with one another, which is a huge comfort.

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