Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns to her Emmy-winning role in the Oval Office just as the real race for the White House offers its own outrageous comedy. She talks to Dominic Corry.

These days, the television landscape is crammed with fictional representations of the US Presidency.

Shows like House of Cards, The Good Wife and Scandal all offer outlandish portrayals of White House-related shenanigans.

So it speaks volumes about the American political landscape that the show that comes closest to capturing the current level of discourse is a comedy, the award-winning Veep.

"Well originally, when we began Veep, of course we knew it was a satire,"star Julia Louis-Dreyfus tells TimeOut. "And nowadays it does feel more like a sombre documentary."


She's only half kidding. During a sitdown in Los Angeles to discuss the fifth season of Veep the iconic comedy star proves a generous conversationalist. Politics naturally hover over every topic, and she admits that the show sometimes feels a little more loaded thanks to the current environment.

"The thing is that we've created on Veep our own alternative universe so it kind of has no bearing on it and yet at the same time, might. If that makes any sense? I know it's crazy right now but it feels as if there's always, in terms of American politics, even global politics, ups and downs all the time.

"It feels like it's very heightened and extreme right now and I'm not suggesting that it isn't, but you know, let us not forget, we had Watergate and Vietnam and we've had wild and woolly moments in our history. They come, and then they go. And then they come back."

That said, Louis-Dreyfus is willing to concede that truth is indeed stranger than fiction when the subject of a certain (real-life) sandy-haired Presidential aspirant inevitably arises.

"We get pretty outrageous with our storytelling," she says. "But I feel like some of the stuff that's being said by him and his entire campaign, if we put it in the script, [producers] HBO would tell us it's too broad, you know what I mean?"

Perhaps the most successful of the main Seinfeld alumni in creative terms, Louis-Dreyfus has won an Emmy for each of the four years she's spent playing Selina Meyer, a barely competent Vice-President who struggles when she is thrust into the top job after the President resigns.

Season five sees her dealing with the fallout from an inconclusive election.

"My character in the beginning was the Veep, and then she became President and immediately had to campaign to be President, so the beautiful thing about playing this Selina is that something is always eluding her.


And even now, where we ended up with season four, she's stuck in this kind of purgatory, and that's the fun. In those layers is where the comedy is."

Playing the role has rendered Louis-Dreyfus something of a focal point for discussions of women in politics, a topic the show tackles with consistent wit.

Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

"There is a perception that somehow - it is an ill-conceived perception - that it is a handicap to be a woman. And so it's fun to skewer that idea. Because, needless to say, it's a great gift. There have been storylines to that effect. When Selina cut her hair, there was a lot of blowback about that.

" Dealing with the abortion issue was particularly vexing to her, because she had a point of view but didn't really want to reveal it, or even call attention to the fact that she even was a woman. Somebody suggested she say: As a woman, I believe ... and she was like 'I'm not gonna start any sentence with As a woman. We can't let people know that. People hate women!' and I think there's kind of a reality to that."

Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.


contemporary relevance also can't help but be enhanced by the fact that America is seriously considering its first female President, a notion Louis-Dreyfus wholly supports ...

"As long as you don't have Selina Meyer in office. But I'm a big believer in getting more women into government in general, certainly in this country. I think everyone would benefit from that. But I see this as being an equal-opportunity situation - that is to say that Selina is equally as incompetent as many of the male buffoons that are out there that I'm sure we can all think of."

Equally incompetent: yes. But not nearly as awful.

Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

"I'm hoping that even though she's a buffoon and a narcissist, she's my buffoon, she's my narcissist and I try to infuse it with some kind of sympathy, I understand maybe why it might be that way.

"So maybe that comes across - I have no idea. In other words, in a weird way I think you find yourself rooting for her despite the fact that she's a nincompoop."

Who: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
What: Veep, new season
Where and when: SoHo, Thursdays 9pm from tonight