'Veep': Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Co. spill details on season 3

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Image Credit: Mark Davis/Getty Images

The return of TV’s No. 2 comedy is nigh: Veep unveils its season 3 premiere tonight at 10:30 on HBO. This season, our narcissistic vice president of the United States, Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), stealthily begins her campaign for the Oval Office now that it appears POTUS won’t be seeking re-election.

While Veep‘s first two seasons showed viewers how Washington works, “season 3 is all about getting out of D.C.,” says creator Armando Iannucci. “It’s all about: How does the country work? She’s meeting people in Detroit, in the South, she’s going to a gun show, she’s meeting lobbyists. And because she’s on the campaign trail, it’s all about her no longer having to hide behind the president. But that means she’s going to have to declare her views on all sorts of issues. She can’t fudge it any more, she has to be specific….She’s got to become much more political.”

Selina is not the only one under pressure/the microscope this season. The unmerry band of misfits that comprise her staff also need to shine as the stakes ramp up significantly, and their adventures take them as far away as London, where Selina attends a major conference. To find out what to expect in season 3 from each character, elect to scroll down.

Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
A hint from Iannucci: “She has to choose a campaign manager, and there’s a big rivalry between Dan (Reid Scott) and Amy (Anna Chlumsky) over that. And then there’s a third person that comes into the mix as well, so she’s got to make certain decisions about her team — and radical decisions, too.” Her love life also sees a change: “There is a new person who comes into her life. It’s someone that she shouldn’t really be linked romantically with if she wants to avoid bad headlines and bad publicity and general awkwardness.”
Louis-Dreyfus teases: “She has a feeling of like, ‘This nomination should be mine,’ but it’s not being given as she thinks it should be. It’s not a done deal. It’s much more of a challenge and a struggle for her to be taken seriously as a frontrunner of a candidate, so that’s a lot of fun from a comedic point of view. And then the fact that she’s got to go out and raise money and raise her profile nationally and internationally in an effort to be seen as a nominee in the next election — there’s a lot of vulnerability to that. She’s got so much misplaced pride about her own, shall we say, abilities and her own place in history that it’s just a great set-up….She has to declare her views and yet she’s fighting to declare her views because she doesn’t want to alienate a single voter — she wants all voters, so that means straddling all positions.” An additional cryptic hint? “Selina the fire starter.”
Her MVP (most valuable prop): “The wig was an important move and I’m really glad we did it. There’s a seriousness to that wig that I really like that helps bring things for me into focus. My hair, which is fairly long, does not look like hair that‘s inside the Beltway and I didn’t want to cut my own hair. And my hair doesn’t have quite the right look for this. Also, to be honest with you — and this is what I realized after we had the wig made and then I put the wig on — but the combination of wearing that wig and those high heels, there’s a feeling of constriction. It’s really hard to wear a wig for 15 or 16 hours a day — your hair gets itchy and it’s tight on your head. And there was a feeling between that and these crazy heels and these tight skirts, it’s like she is bound, and I think she feels bound.”

Chief of staff Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky)
A hint from Iannucci: “Amy and Dan have a rivalry. The gloves start coming off between the two of them and it’s like a roller coaster for the both of them all the way through….We see Amy a bit more driven this season. Whatever nice Amy there was starts to fall away.”
Chlumsky says: “They’re ramping up for the campaign. So this is the moment that I personally wondered — and some of the writers and I have discussed it over the seasons — Does Amy really love being chief of staff or has it always been about other stuff for her? Has it been the best thing she’s ever been offered thus far but really she would prefer to strategize or really she would prefer to win something? And here we are with the campaign, so she’s being brought to that decision. She likes the juice of winning and that’s very close for her. So she’s got to decide: Do I like to manage people or do I like to manage victory?”
Her MVP (most valuable prop): “In our original set plan, she did not have her own office. I think they envisioned it to be a part of the bullpen. When we talked with all of our consultants, one of our consultants, Laura Schiller, who was [Senator] Barbara Boxer’s chief of staff, was like, ‘Um, she needs her own office. Where is she going to interview people and hold meetings, and hire and fire people?’ So right away they took one of the doors and changed that name plate and I was very happy about that. She’s a boss!”

White House liaison Jonah Ryan (Timothy C. Simons)
A hint from Iannucci: “Right from the first episode, there’s a major change with Jonah and his circumstances that carries through the whole season. Jonah goes through big ups and big downs….Any connection he has in D.C. starts coming into play because it’s a fight for survival.
Simons says: “Jonah the nomad.” And now for something slightly less cryptic: “Jonah has a lot of scenes with Dan. In his heart, Jonah thinks he’s a handsome, smooth-talking D.C. power player in the way that Dan is, and he’s not….It’s incredibly childish pretty much every time they get together. It essentially reverts to fourth grade-level name calling, both in words and action — it is very childish. I don’t know that I can say specifically what they’re fighting over, but what it comes down to is they have opposing viewpoints on the vice president’s public image.” And here’s some good news: Jonah made the trip to London with the gang. “If anyone was a really big fan of Jonah’s awful English accent from season 2, there is a trip to London, so you can look forward to plenty of that.”
Favorite Jonah insult in season 3: “There was one that I don’t think is going to make it into the final cut. They have a tendency of storing them away if they don’t make the cut, but at one point, I was getting out of the car and a character said I looked like a giraffe in a match box. I just thought that was the funniest f—ing thing.”

Personal aide Gary Walsh (Tony Hale)
A hint from Iannucci: “I don’t want to give the reason why, but Gary goes through a bit of a job crisis and wonders just how long he can do it.”
Hale says: “Everybody is trying to get ahead, everybody’s trying to take the next step. Gary could just stay in the same place for the rest of his life. As long as he’s Selina’s lap dog, he’s set. He loves it, so he’s never really trying to get ahead. But this season, he was tweaked a little bit in the sense that he’s stepping out a little bit and wondering if he has skills outside of being a bag man, outside of being her whipping post. And obviously, in typical Veep-style, it becomes a disaster….There is a time when Gary is separated from Selina. There’s somebody that steps into his place — and it’s not pretty. I mean, just having someone else playing his role is death.”
His MVP (most valuable prop): It’s that Selina-support bag that he carries everywhere, which he likens to “Linus’ blanket.” But what exactly does Hale keep in it? “There’s, like, six or seven empty water bottles in there. For some reason, I just forget to throw them out and put them in recycling, and after a week or two I think, ‘Why is this getting so big? Oh, I have to empty out the water bottles that don’t have water in them!’ And then probably the book I’m reading and my phone. Gary would be mortified by what Tony the actor has in Gary’s bag.” (Which books has he been toting around? “The Spirituality of Imperfection. It’s a heavy read. And this is a total plug and I don’t mean it to be a plug, but a children’s book I’m writing comes out in August called Archibald’s Next Big Thing, so I would always carry around this notebook because I was working on it.”)

Director of communications Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh)
A hint from Iannucci: “Mike is a bit happier this season! He had such a sad season 2 with his debt. We find Mike very, very happy — so happy that he’s slightly not concentrating on the job. It’s very funny to see.”
Walsh says: “You get to see his life outside of work. You get a sense of, ‘Oh, Mike could actually enjoy his life if he wasn’t doing this!’ and I think that’s a breakthrough for a miserable character like Mike.”
His MVP (most valuable prop): “We’d joke around that Mike would go yachting on the weekends and he had his drinking pants and they were these bright orange pants that he wore in season 1. He fancied himself a sailor. And I think that sort of informed the ridiculous purchase he made last year, which was this boat that he couldn’t get out from under. So that came out of just joking and creating a fantasy life for Mike about what he does on the weekends, and it’s basically that he just gets s–t-faced on his own boat or other people’s boats and never leaves calm water.”

Deputy director of communications Dan Egan (Reid Scott)
A hint from Iannucci: “He has a war on two fronts this season — one with Amy and one with Jonah.”
Scott says: “Jonah becomes a direct threat to our office. Because he poses this threat, he’s almost like the Saddam Hussein, so they anoint Dan to be Schwarzkopf, to go after him. So I have to constantly scheme a way to assuage him, to bring him close, to destroy him, what have you.” An additional cryptic tease? “Meteoric rise and an even grander fall.”
The man behind Dan: “The first person I interviewed when I got the job was my good friend Jay Carson. He worked on the Hill for many years, he helped run Howard Dean’s campaign, he’s very connected. I gave him the script and he said, ‘Oh my god! You’re playing me!’ He’s actually the character that Ryan Gosling’s character is based on in The Ides of March, and he’s very good friends with Beau Willimon, the creator of House of Cards, so he’s the real deal. So in my mind, I decided to make Dan a combination of Rahm Emanuel, Jay Carson, and Steve Jobs. I don’t know if any of that shows through, but that was my way in. And also, I don’t know why, I decided he had a certain voice to him, so I was trying to do my best combination of Alec Baldwin meets Will Arnett.”

POTUS Chief of staff Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn)
A hint from Iannucci: “Ben actually comes into his own. You start to see why he thinks he is the President’s chief of staff, because he does have this air of nonchalance, but he turns out to be an effective mover and shaker, and from Selina’s point of view, becomes quite an asset.”
Dunn says: “Ben sees his role with the president as ebbing one way or another. He’s a political junkie and he’s somewhat established a relationship with Selina, and he’s trying desperately to be both an outsider and an insider at the same time. He needs to find somebody who needs him — and he puts his eggs in her basket.”
His MVP (most valuable prop): “We had the mug last year and I was very sparing in where I brought it in. I want to keep it as part of him but I didn’t want to overuse it, so all the time it would be, ‘Are we using it?’ ‘No, not today.’ He’s expensive on a daily rate, the mug.”

Personal assistant Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw)
A hint from Iannucci: “There’s sort of a strange romance in the air for Sue with someone else in the office. That’s all I can say.”
Bradshaw says: “Sue might be slightly nicer.”

Senior strategist to POTUS Kent Davison (Gary Cole)
A hint from Iannucci: “Kent is now doing all sorts of polling data for Selina and he’s in nerd heaven. There’s one episode which is set in Silicon Valley, and they visit the headquarters at the next Google and Facebook called Clovis, and Kent is like a little boy in a toy shop.”
Cole says: “We may see Kent maybe just a little weirder per se, but for no apparent reason. I think Armando likes to take the character and have him do things that were odd and yet not explain them at all. A lot of times they just shake their heads at what he says.”

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