Julia Louis-Dreyfus on ‘Veep’ Season 4 and Whether Elaine and Jerry Could Have Lived Happily Ever After

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AUSTIN, TX: Julia Louis-Dreyfus knows how to make an entrance. When she arrived at Monday morning’s SXSW panel “The Veep Speaks,” she was holding her phone, broadcasting her entrance via app-of-the-week Meerkat, and explaining to the 2000-plus-strong crowd, “I’m Meerkating this moment.” And then, after a perfectly timed pause: “By the way, I have no idea what I’m saying.”

Thus began a wide-ranging conversation between the Veep and Seinfeld star and Marie Claire editor Anne Fulenwider, joined later by Veep co-stars Matt Walsh and Sam Richardson. They discussed the differences between single-camera and multi-camera shows, the similarities between show business and politics, and working on a “humanely run show.” A conversation about the “Modern Seinfeld Twitter account prompted a confirmation from Louis-Dreyfus that Elaine and Jerry would have ultimately wed: “Yeah, and then divorced.”

And she took part in a rapid-response round of “20 questions.” The best advice she ever received? “Have fun at all costs.” The best gift she ever received? “I return all my gifts and get store credit.” Veep protagonist Selena Meyers’ advice for House of Cards‘ Frank Underwood: “Lighten up!” And her worst vice: “Is chocolate a vice? No, it sounds so cute, it’s healthy now, that’s bullshit. I’m gonna have to say, I’m too materialistic. Yeah, that’s right, I hate myself.”

But the primary topic of the day, of course, was Veep, the endlessly funny and piercingly prescient political comedy from creator Armando Iannucci, which is about to air its fourth season. And as has been the case from the show’s beginnings, the ongoing question — and parlor game — is how closely the dots of the show connect to the real political world.

Louis-Dreyfus stresses that they’ve gone out of their way not to include cameos and references to real political figures, lest they infringe on their specific “Veep reality.” She explains: “We don’t refer at all to present political politics; I think the most recent was a Nixon reference that’s coming up in Season 4. But aside from that, it’s history, and that’s very intentional. It helps the comedy to keep it away from real-life politics.”

But there are, of course, plenty of parallels. “This is what is so unbelievably uncanny about this show,” she explains. “We will do things on this show, and say, ‘Is it too far-fetched?’ ‘Probably, but let’s go for it anyway because this is funny.’ And then, three months later it happens. Even with the pilot episode, Selena is trying to green up all the federal buildings inside the Beltway. And we did that, and a couple months later, that’s what Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer were trying to do. And they got shit for it! Wait, can we swear here?”

Walsh, who plays fumbling communications director Mike McLintock, concurs that the names may not appear, but some of the themes and vernacular do. “We did a lot of tours of Congressional offices and Senator’s aides, and went out for drinks several nights to get the real skinny on how DC works,” he says. “We got terms like ‘pencil-fucked,’ that’s when someone brutalizes your speech and basically scratches out everything you wanna say. So things like that, we find really useful.”

An audience member poses a forward-looking question: with the fourth season packed in and only so much further for Selena to go, how long can the show actually run? Louis-Dreyfus is cryptic but encouraging. “I can only partially answer that without giving away what happens in Season 4,” she says. “I think there is longevity to this series. I think that there’s lots more story to be told, and you can rest assured it will be a series of humiliations that we all can enjoy.”

Veep‘s fourth season premiere airs on HBO on April 12. Photo credit: Jason Bailey / Flavorwire