Anna Chlumsky: 'Veep' Could Happen!
My earliest memories of Anna Chlumsky involve her making me weep uncontrollably as she begged for Thomas J's glasses. But over the last few years, the only tears Anna's evoked have been derived from laughter as she's taken several bold steps into the world of comedy. Starting small (a guest spot on 30 Rock) and working her way up, Anna starred in 2009's uproarious political satire, In the Loop -- a role that led to her current gig as Amy Brookheimer, the Vice President's Chief of Staff on HBO's can't miss new comedy, Veep.
I caught up with the delightfully bubbly actress this morning to discuss the comedy education she's getting from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and find out how Sunday's all-new Veep couldn't be better timed to the political conversation happening in light of Obama's gay marriage interview.
Insider.com: Veep creator Armando Iannucci also wrote In The Loop, did he reach out to you for this role, or did you have to audition?
Anna Chlumsky: I was super, super lucky on this one – I got sent the pilot script and thought it was hysterical. Only then did I start to hear that I was being thought of for Amy and he called me in for it. I'm always blown over when anything happens that way. I'm thrilled to speak his words again.
Insider: What is that you love about his storytelling?
Anna: Well, he's kind of dedicated to play and it's one of the most fulfilling things about this. What I love about the content of this show is that it's about what seems to be the glamorous end of how government works, but we show the reality of this situation. Armando loves taking the glamor out of it – there's no spell here.
Insider: Aside from working with Armando again, what appealed to you about the part?
Anna: I enjoy playing ambitious people – but what's fun about Amy is that she's not necessarily gunning to be president. She wants to have as much power as she can at any given moment and what's neat about where we find her in this series is that Amy has been given a lot of power at a young age, so it's about watching her dealing with the next step of her career. She's the boss and we get to watch her come to grips with that.
Insider: Although they've achieved high-ranking positions, it kind of feels like Selena's team is comprised of idiots. And then there's Amy, who actually seems to have her wits about her. Or is that all an act and she's just as clueless?
Anna: It depends on whatever crisis they're dealing with – there are definitely moments where Amy thinks, "Can somebody just do their job right for once?!?" She just wants to scream at them sometimes but can't because she's got to keep it as professional as possible and put on a calm face for Selena a lot of the time. But she has her weaknesses too.
Insider: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the most respected comedians on TV today -- has there been anything you've learned from working alongside her?
Anna: Something I've become very open to working with her is the idea that precision and spontaneity can actually live in the same scene. I treat comedy in the same way I treat drama in terms of how I approach it – high stakes are high stakes and it's up to the text to determine if it's absurd or not. But Julia really knows that there are certain landmarks in a scene and she is completely committed in going for them -- everything that lives on the way to those landmarks is absolutely fair game. And that's what is so gorgeous about her performance. That certainly made me know how to travel a scene in a new way, which has been exciting.
Insider: Armando Tweeted that Sunday's Veep is about the VP going on Meet The Press and inadvertently making a remark that changes government policy. Something we're seeing in the real world right now with Obama's pro-gay marriage comments. What can you tease?
Anna: [laughs] Yep! It’s been a little bit bizarre watching all the news, knowing this episode was coming. It's funny because in the beginning we thought that people might think what we were doing is too outlandish. Now, we're not psychics, but I think it does drive home that everything on our show could happen.
Insider: HBO recently renewed the show for a second season. What are you hoping to do next year that you didn't get to do this time around?
Anna: It's really fun when we get to see their personal lives – and even though Amy barely has one, we see a glimpse of it later this season,. Going forward I'd love to see more of that.
Insider: Since re-entering the acting game, you've had a string of successful roles in film and television -- are you starting to feel the perception of you in Hollywood changing from "The My Girl Kid?"
Anna: I'm just beginning to feel that. I am just getting that taste. I think it's typical for actors to think, "I don't want to be on the couch, what project can I do?" And I will always have that, because I think it's just a habitual actor thing, but I do feel like there is a small shift happening. I'm sure my brain and my psyche will catch up eventually [laughs] but right now, it still feels like I’m at the top of the stairs looking out on the party I have yet to join. But it's a great party and I'm excited to step into this lovely ballroom of options.
Veep airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.