Q&A: Anna Chlumsky Talks Funny, Physical Comedy In 'Veep'
Anna Chlumsky is all grown up and starring as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ sidekick in “Veep,” from creator Armando Iannucci.
The very funny comedy, airing Sunday nights on HBO at 10 PM, focuses on Julia, as Vice President Selina Meyer, and her team, including Anna as Amy Brookheimer, her Chief of Staff.
Anna, of course, first rose to fame starring in “My Girl,” with Macaulay Culkin. After taking some time off as a young woman to get an education (she majored in international studies), settle down with her husband, and embark on a short career in publishing, she was wooed back to acting.
Since she returned to her original craft, Anna has hit the stage in New York City, made a few independent films and TV movies, and last season, she had a brief but memorable role as Melissa, the agent who was played by not-quite-reformed con artist Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) in “White Collar.”
Now, with her series role in political satire “Veep,” Anna continues her relationship with Armando, who had her as part of his cast (alongside James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan) in 2009’s “In The Loop.”
With the series hitting its third episode this weekend, Anna told AccessHollywood.com what to expect.
AccessHollywood.com: ‘Veep’ has a feel like the original, British ‘The Office.’ Were you a fan of that show?
Anna Chlumsky: I was, and the American one too and I’ve always been a real kind of anglophile, really. I grew up on [PBS’] ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ and all that delicious stuff, so I’ve always really loved how they do ensemble pieces, either drama or comedy, and so hooking up with [‘Veep’ creator] Armando [Iannucci] even for ‘In The Loop,’ and then, for this, it kind of does feel like I’m part of a really nice tradition.
Access: I saw a few celebrities Tweeting about ‘Veep,’ like David Krumholtz, formerly of ‘Numb3rs.’ He Tweeted, ‘The power and majesty of the one and only Anna Chlumsky is upon us all once again on ‘Veep’ on HBO. Great cast and great show. JLD is great!’
Anna: Wow! That is so, so kind… It’s really cool. I am certainly one of those actors that’s like, really nerdy about craft and really loved all of the nerdy things about what we do, so when your peers kind of notice, it does feel good. I can’t deny that that feels good. It’s really neat.
Access: [Last week, there was a] Maya Rudolph-y ‘Bridesmaids’ food poisoning moment on ‘Veep.’ Is more of that kind of comedy coming up?
Anna: I think that’s what I love about Armando’s brand of satire, is he really drives home this fact that just because these people in this city have so much more power than other people have, [it] does not mean they’re superheroes, it doesn’t mean that they’re super villains, it just means that they have high stakes jobs… We’re so fortunate to be with this writing team… They can hit so many different types of humor in like one sentence. One second it’s high-brow, it’s low brow, it’s potty humor, it’s vulgar, it’s cerebral, it’s a visual gag. They can do all of it and they do all of it well.
Access: There’s been a lot of press on the show, and you in particular… A lot of people are writing, ‘Anna Chlumsky – you remember her from ‘My Girl.’’ Do you sort of feel this project could be turning that corner where people will start saying, ‘Anna Chlumsky ,from ‘Veep.’’
Anna: I feel like it’s possible and I feel like, I have been lucky enough to get [to experience] what that feels like with my smaller projects. In New York, sometimes somebody will come up to me and they’ll say, ‘Oh, we saw you in that play.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh! Fantastic,’ and it’s a really good feeling ‘cause unlike the stuff you do when you’re a kid, it’s like all the things I do now are on purpose… When people started to say on the subway, ‘Oh, ‘In The Loop’ is so great.’ It’s just like ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s fantastic that you love that.’ Even ‘Covert Affairs’ somebody mentioned and it’s a neat thing and I do look really forward to people liking the show.
Access: You did international studies in college. Was there ever an interest in politics?
Anna: I think there was… I definitely chose that major really just from the liberal arts point of view of, ‘Ooh, I like studying this and I’d like to take more of these classes.’… But once I chose that major, I thought, ‘This could go into diplomacy.’ I definitely thought of taking my foreign service exam, but once I looked at it… I think that was one of those moments where you listen to your inner voice, ‘Oh, I don’t want to take this.’
Access: A Tweet got Julia’s character in trouble in the first episode. You’re on Twitter. Is that because you know the trouble it can bring? It’s ridiculous.
Anna: (Laughs.) Yeah, it is ridiculous. But I think it’s a much more personal thing. It’s the kind of trouble I would personally get into in the sense that… I’m an only child and so I can already fall into that trap of talking at people, so I just feel like something like Twitter would really not be conducive for my self-improvement when it comes to that. I need to be better at listening and speaking once I’ve listened as opposed to just talking…. I need to practice listening.
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