‘Veep’s’ Sam Richardson on Working With His Heroes and 5 Other Emmy Contender Quickies

“It’s hard to not act like a fan … but you can’t do that because you respect everybody so much,” Richardson tells TheWrap

After appearing in four episodes of HBO’s “Veep” for season three, Sam Richardson was upped to series regular for the fourth season.

The Second City alum plays Richard Splett, the bumbling optimist who entered the series as a temporary handler for Julia Louis-Dreyfus‘s Vice President Selina Meyers during a presidential campaign stop. In Season Four, the eager but incompetent Splett fails upward to the White House where he finds himself an assistant to Timothy Simon’s much-maligned Jonah.

In an interview with TheWrap, Richardson talked about working with his heroes, his Second City background and the difference between sketch and written comedy.

TheWrap: What was the toughest thing you had to do this season?
Richardson: The toughest thing was keeping my cool around all these great actors, like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Hugh Laurie. It’s hard to not act like a fan when you’re in these scenes with your heroes, but you can’t do that because you respect everybody so much.

What was the most fun?
The same thing. I got to play around with all of these brilliant actors and comedians. Also, to get to improvise and riff these scenes was incredibly fun. Because the writers value your input as an actor and as a comedian, it’s incredibly rewarding to get to play these scenes out… The writers would write it and we’d go through a rehearsal period and kind of re-improvise the scenes and the final product would become a mix between the two.

If someone had never seen “Veep,” what would you say to persuade them to watch it?
You are watching very brilliantly written comedy performed by some of the funniest, best actors around. And it’s smart, but not at the expense of its humor. It’s not preachy, it’s just gut-wrenchingly funny.

Other than Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who else on your show really deserves an Emmy and why?
Kevin Dunn was really brilliant this season as Ben Caffrey. He plays with so many levels. He’s a mess. He’s a pill-popping, drunkard mess who’s also in charge of the key staff of a president… And he has some of the best insult deliveries on the show.

Are you a binge-watcher? Or do you like to watch one episode a week?
I prefer to watch once a week. It doesn’t bother me when I have two episodes backed up and I can kind of have a mini-binge, but I prefer the culture of appointment television… When you consume a half hour or an hour of television, you can talk about what happened, as opposed to consuming ten hours of content and then you don’t remember everything you want to talk about.

If you could add any new category to the Emmys, serious or silly, what would it be?
I would distinguish between sketch comedy and written comedy. There’s a lot of brilliant stuff in sketch. It’s a really different muscle, and it would be interesting to see that as its own thing.

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