A version of this story about Anna Chlumsky and “Veep” first appeared in the Comedy/Drama/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy Magazine.
The HBO comedy series “Veep” has always dealt with the fate of women in an arena that is fundamentally male and fundamentally sexist, mostly through the eyes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ vice president/president/ex-president Selina Meyer.
But in its final season, the show also put Anna Chlumsky’s Amy Brookheimer — a fiery, much-abused and frequently abusive political aide — through the wringer via an unwanted pregnancy that she decides to abort. And for five-time Emmy nominee Chlumsky, that made this season’s journey a crucial one in this specific moment in history.
“I definitely feel like Amy’s storyline this season is particularly important,” she said. “I felt possessive about the Amy arc — I felt, ‘OK, we’ve got to get a handle on this and do it right.’ And I think we did.”
From the start, she said, she collaborated closely with showrunner Dave Mandel and a lot of the writers on how the story would play out. “It was really cool,” she said. “We were in Texas at South by Southwest, there was a bonfire and Dave and I were on one side of it. I just looked at him and was like, ‘OK, what are we doing?’ And we discovered right away that we were very much on the same page.”
From there, she said, they traded emails and she visited the writers’ room to help flesh out ideas for Amy’s storyline. “I don’t need to pitch jokes to them,” she said. “What matters to me is her character and her arc. They listened, and it was awesome.
“It felt so gratifying to work that way,” she added. “I think that we are maybe one of a handful of programs that could carry out this type of a storyline with this topic. And it feels necessary, feels overdue.”
Of course, the abortion storyline is hardly the only aspect of “Veep” that feels timely — over its seven seasons, the show went from an out-there satire of Washington run amok to a show that finds plenty of real-world parallels in the dysfunction and bile of current politics.
“I love it whenever Trump does something idiotic, which is often, and some person online will put it next to the end credits of ‘Veep,'” she said. “That’s my favorite little online commentary. It’s hard not to see (things) through a ‘Veep’ lens now.”
Through the years, she said, she has encountered people who identify with her character, despite the fact that the dyspeptic Amy is hardly an admirable role model. “I’ve met women who work in Washington, and women who work in other industries, who will come up to me and say, ‘I’m Amy, I feel like her!'” she said. “It’s always kind of a mixed bag for me, because I sort of am proud that I’m portraying somebody so identifiable — but at the same time I’m really concerned for them, because I don’t think it’s a healthy lifestyle.”
Health, she added, was definitely on the minds of the “Veep” cast and crew as they filmed a final season that came after a one-year hiatus in which Louis-Dreyfus battled breast cancer.
“It felt different to come back after a year of being away from each other, especially because of why we were away from each other,” she said. “It felt triumphant and important to be working again, and it also made us be very in tune with each other.
“There’s this habit in our industry to go all in and burn every candle at both ends, and I think after having all collectively taken a pause for the purpose of health, it’s sort of in your head to be saying, ‘How’s everyone feeling? Are we breathing deeply?'”
She looked forward to the final episode and the end of “Veep,” she said, partly because it meant she wouldn’t have to constantly commute from her home in New York to Los Angeles each year and could spend more time with her 3- and 6-year-old daughters.
But the end, she said, was definitely emotional. “I don’t think I’ve hugged that many people who meant that much to me in such a short span of time ever,” she said. “It was gorgeous.”
Read more from Comedy/Drama/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy Magazine.