'Veep' star Timothy Simons teases Jonah's 'moment in the sun' (and how he keeps a straight face)

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Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

It’s already been a season of change for White House liaison-turned-Ryantology founder/reporter Jonah Ryan on HBO’s Veep, but actor Timothy Simons tells EW that Sunday’s episode has yet another: “You might actually see, for the very first time, Jonah have a little bit of success — albeit short-lived,” he says. “Unfortunately the story always ends poorly for Jonah. But he does have a moment in the sun.” Looking further ahead into season 3, Simons says we’ll have more of an understanding of Jonah’s family by the time it’s over. We’ll meet a parent: “I don’t want to spoil any of that,” he says, “other than to say you get a little bit of insight into what might have created him.”

Here are three questions Simons could answer:

Which of his scenes has taken the most takes? Amazingly, not the one in this past Sunday’s episode in which Jonah made Mike (Matt Walsh) sing “Goober Peas.” “The scene that I definitely blew the most takes on was getting kicked out of the plane, because it was late — it was like 2 a.m. on a Saturday, going into a Sunday. I think we had been there 18 hours, and I couldn’t keep it together anyway, and then Reid Scott [who plays Dan] started f—ing with me. Anytime we made eye contact, he’d wink at me. So whenever you see me look at Reid, I’m actually looking just off to his left, because I couldn’t actually make eye contact.”

What are his tricks for not breaking? “Honestly, avoiding eye contact, breathing very deliberately, and, I’m not kidding, I think about truly awful things — death, destruction, and famine. I actually have to sometimes, especially when it comes to the quiet, slow-paced jokes. I really get caught up in how funny it is, so I have to think about horrible things in order to keep a straight face.” An example: “When we were doing the one about how the soldier loses his leg, there’s this thing where [Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Vice President Selina Meyer] doesn’t really get that he’s lost his entire leg. She thinks maybe he’s just lost the middle part or the knee, but like the rest of the leg still exists. That particular scene I think was pieced together from those guys doing great takes and me ruining a bunch.”

What is the most popular Jonah insult hurled at him in real life? “I was unloading stuff from my garage, and somebody drove by and turned their car around just to call me ‘Jonad,’ and then they turned around and drove away again,” he recalls, laughing. “Jonad is the most common one that I get. I think because it’s the quickest and it’s also only slightly insulting to call another human. Like, if you actually called me ‘a smokestack of f—‘ or something else that might come out on the show, that might actually be like, ‘All right, we’re in a grocery store, calm it the f— down.'”

Any chance we’ll see Patton Oswalt, with whom Simons has become friendly, guesting on Veep now that Oswalt has told EW playing “the guy Jonah thinks is an a–hole” is one of his dream roles? That one he can’t answer. “We would all love to have him on, but they write character first and not actor first. So if something came up that fit him, that would be amazing.”

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