VEEP’s Sufe Bradshaw previews Season 3: “Three is going to be even better”
When VEEP first aired on two years ago, it quickly took a top spot on my favorite-comedies-of-all-time list (of all time is a long time, I realize this, but that’s how strongly I feel). Loved Season 1, didn’t ever want Season 2 to end, and I’m not counting down the days until Season 3 premieres. It’s finally here, this Sunday at 10:30/9:30c on HBO, and to celebrate, I spent some time chatting with Sufe Bradshaw about the Sue of it all – why did she want to play this character? “Sue was a shoo-in.” Do they have as much fun on set as it would seem they did? “It’s a blast.” And what is coming next? Read on for the interview!
I’m such a huge fan of the show. It’s one of those shows I clicked with instantly and I die for new episodes.
Oh yay, I’m so grateful! The show is really one of a kind, isn’t it?
It is, and I think that’s so important – comedy these days has become the same old thing, day in and day out, and VEEP feels refreshing. Everyone is so funny.
Oh man, we’re having a blast! The fun that you see us having on TV, we’re having in real life. What a great ensemble.
Now going into the third season – coming into the show in the first season, what brought you to VEEP?
That’s a great question! It was run of the mill, my agent submitted the audition to me, and it was a shoo-in, Sue was just a shoo-in. 25-30, progressive, really stylish. Junkyard dog of the office of the Vice President. It was kind of perfect. A lot of her personality is mine. I went and had an audition, and then I had a second audition, and they were Skype auditions because Armando Iannucci and the creatives were all in Baltimore scouting at the time. Sue was the last to be cast. It all sort of jumped off the page. Once I got in there and got the audition, I felt really good. Once I did a call back, it felt really good. I went to have a chemistry test. It all felt really perfect.
I feel like every cast member is perfectly cast. You seem to be having as much fun playing the characters.
It’s a blast. Forget about it! Like, Tony Hale, Tim, Anna, Julia, and Matt. And Reid. With the addition of Kevin Dunn and Gary Cole, it’s just getting bigger and bigger, and getting better. The chemistry that we have because we shoot on location? It’s like going to summer camp! [laughs] Hanging out with your friends, and having a blast. That’s rare, I think. To find a bond like that, in such a great group of people, to have so much fun with, it’s a dream come true.
It’s a good thing that you do get along to be separated from friends and family, in a different city.
Obviously, the weather has been unforgiving [laughs], but they’re a family away from home.
What can we expect for this season?
What’s crazy is that we’re actually not allowed to talk about it too much because there’s so much! I will say that I’m extremely excited about it. The seasons are growing as we grow; the cast is getting tighter and tighter. We’re exploring new things. It’s really going to be great; I really feel really passionate. I know a lot of people say that. One was great because we were just kind of getting our legs; two was awesome because we were settling into ourselves. Three is even going to be better, I feel, because we’ve been living with these characters for three years [laughs]. I can’t give away too many details, but I cannot wait for you to see it and hear what you think about it.
The show has never struggled to find critical acclaim, and now it seems as the seasons continue, it’s getting award recognition, more audiences are finding it. The show feels celebrated across the board – has to be fun to be a part of something that is universally loved.
It’s interesting and the topic is politics which itself is not always universally loved! We’re so divided. You’re right – I always tell people a lot that I love VEEP because it pokes fun at politics. It pokes fun at something, you can laugh at it, it gets you closer to having some sort of resolution, you know. Sort of laugh about something, a little more light hearted, versus what’s maybe really happening in politics today [laughs]. It’s been celebrated so much. People find themselves in character, and they can laugh at it, and if you can laugh at it, maybe there’s more of a conversation that can start about it.
I loved in Season 2 that we got to see Sue get rattled. She’s always so put together, she puts people in her place. The use of “robust” 75 times in a sentence – so much fun to see that.
[laughs] It’s so funny – Sufe loves the beach, and I’m like a big yoga person, really open, from a big family, love dogs [laughs]. To play her, it’s been funny to step into her shoes because she really is so put together. From the bun, to the bangs, how serious she is about everything. It was cool to be able to play her not being so sure. That’s complex, so it was really nice. Of course, she’s back to her old ways. She’s so great. I love playing the character. You approach it from the outside in. Start with the hair, her clothes, and then get into her personality.
Do you have days where you can’t get through scenes because you’re laughing at each other?
There is so much laughter happening on set! We’re getting better at that. In season one and two, forget about it. Julia does something really funny, and then Tony sort of piggy backs it, and before you know it, everyone is in on the joke. That is still the case. When we break, there is so much laughter. When the scenes are being shot, there are moments when we’re able to try something different in the scene. I think it was season 2, the first episode, where Tony Hale, Selena wasn’t getting any sleep [laughs] and Tony Hale is a genius actor, plays her bag man. He stood up, and walked by a clock or something, something he did, I couldn’t take it. It was the funniest thing that I think I’ve seen in my life.
A lot of the show does feel like it could be improvised. How much of what we see is what Armando and the team has given you, and how much freedom you have?
I credit the writers – 95% of it is them. I know a lot of times it could be said that it feels like an improv show. It really is the writers. They write those words, and we step into those shows. They do such a great job. There are times where we can see where a scene might go. They’ll say “let’s open it up” but for the most part, the writers are to credit for the genius you see.
Armando was known for his political comedies like this across the pond, too, like THE THICK OF IT, IN THE LOOP – did you watch those?
I watched them when I was being considered for the role – so I could do the research. I watched them, and he’s just brilliant. What a brilliant person!
What else do you have besides VEEP?
I did a guest spot on RIZZOLI & ISLES on TNT. I [played] a chef and I am really excited about it. I did a movie called IMPERIAL DREAMS which got into Sundance, and I did a movie called HAPPY MEDIUM, so those were great projects.
I know that you’ve done a lot of philanthropic, charity work – what are you working with these days?
There’s a charity called VDAY which I’m a huge fan of. Eve Ensler, who is Dylan McDermott’s mother, founded an organization called VDAY, which is against violence against women and girls across the world. Because the statistics are like, 1 in 3 women will be beaten or killed in their lifetime. One is three is ultimately really high, but even just one is too many. So every year on Valentine’s Day, there is something that has to happen, we all rise to the occasion. We just did it this Valentine’s Day – we had a great gathering outside of city hall downtown. We were downtown at Nokia Live, and the mayor comes out a lot. We’re talking about child trafficking, we’re talking about violence, it’s a cause that I really believe in very strongly. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I also mentor children.
The VEEP Season 3 premiere airs Sunday at 10:30/9:30c on HBO.