How Julia Louis-Dreyfus Became TV's Sharpest, Funniest Truth Teller

The Veep star gets characteristically candid.

Meredith Jenks

This interview originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Marie Claire.

Opportunities for bold, buzzy roles in TV comedies do not come around often, particularly not to '90s-era sitcom stars on the wrong side of 50. And yet here she is, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, at 54—nearly two decades after leaving her iconic role on Seinfeld—starring in HBO's acclaimed Veep.

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Meredith Jenks

Both shows feature shrewd, darkly funny portrayals of complex, frustrated, and opinionated women who really, if we're being honest, could only be played by Louis-Dreyfus, an actress gifted at making even the most bitter and shallow characters seem charming and vulnerable—while making us laugh, too.

"Unlikable characters can be very relatable," she says, sipping a cappuccino at Freds, the restaurant atop Barneys New York in Beverly Hills. "I don't think we're all so likable all the time. I include myself in that, and I don't consider myself to be a bad person. Likability is—I don't know what the hell that means. It's just a bunch of bullshit."

On why she cut her hair for Veep: "I mean, Hillary Clinton has gotten so much shit for her hairstyles over the years. Which is remarkable when you consider what it is she does! But hair, for some reason, is a really big deal."

On female politicians: "In my limited experience, I would say that female politicians can be a bit more forthcoming, open. I don't mean they're spilling the beans or saying things they shouldn't, but I don't feel a guard in the same way. Maybe it's a female-to-female thing."

On her longevity: "I've followed my instinct. I've tried to be as thoughtful as I could be and pure in my thinking in terms of looking at projects and, by the way, the people who are attached to those projects. It's kind of like getting married to a stranger: You spend a lot of time together, and you have to be in sync creatively—and you can't always know that. For instance, with Armando, I didn't really know him that well, or at all, actually. And then you sign your life away."

On her Veep character: "I play a character who's a straddler. Her ideology is, 'I am a political animal, and I will get reelected at all costs.'"

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This interview appears in the May 2015 issue of Marie Claire.

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