Matt Walsh On 'Veep,' Press Secretaries And Chicago Sports
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The final season of "Veep" begins tomorrow. Selina Meyer has an exploratory committee in Iowa, along with 50 other candidates. And the exploring isn't leading anywhere. She lands in the wrong town. She neglected to pay bills from her last campaign. And then a ghost from her past appears - her fired former press secretary Mike McLintock returns as a reporter from BuzzFeed.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VEEP")
MATT WALSH: (As Mike Mclintock) Mike McLintock.
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) I know who you are.
WALSH: (As Mike McLintock) BuzzFeed magazine.
LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Uh-huh.
WALSH: (As Mike McLintock) Print edition.
LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) OK.
WALSH: (As Mike McLintock) OK. Madam President...
LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Yes.
WALSH: (As Mike McLintock) Now, will - sorry, this is a menu.
LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) All right.
WALSH: (As Mike McLintock) Hold on a second.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Great question, Mike. That's all the time we have, folks.
SIMON: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, of course, is Selina Meyer in the highly \laureled show created by Armando Iannucci. And Mike McLintock is portrayed by Matt Walsh, who, among so many other credits, is a co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade. He joins us in our studios in New York. Thanks so much for being with us.
WALSH: Thank you for being in the room. I'm excited to meet you.
SIMON: Ah, well, I'm excited to meet you.
SIMON: Does Mike really want to be a reporter or just play one?
WALSH: I think he fancies himself a great writer. If he had his druthers, he would be a great author of great fiction. But I think he likes journalism. And it's weird for him to be on the other side of the ropes because now all his friends on the campaign trail are completely cold to him and ignoring him.
WALSH: And not very kind to him in a matter of minutes.
SIMON: And would you know - why did the producers settle on BuzzFeed rather - I mean, forgive me - the comic possibilities of NPR or Fox News - well, go ahead, yes.
WALSH: Our show spans the crazy, scattered, frenetic evolution of media. So when we started seven or eight years ago, Twitter was what Mike had to deal with. And in the old days - when I talked to some real press secretaries, and they said that they would read seven papers in the morning, and they felt like they had a handle on the news cycle and nowadays, things like BuzzFeed and Instagram - and it's so fractured - I think get into your initial question. I think BuzzFeed typifies the frenetic, fast paced, very bite-sized media world that we're all in.
SIMON: So you talked to other press secretaries.
WALSH: I sure did.
SIMON: It sounds like the biggest ones.
WALSH: Mike McCurry, Dee Dee Myer (ph). I should have more names on the tip of my tongue. But those are the first two that come to mind. And they were great.
SIMON: So what did they tell you they probably wouldn't tell people like me?
WALSH: One of the things they told me - like, McCurry was there when the Clinton-Lewinsky stuff was happening. And he said every day, he had to get in front of the press. And he literally had no news because the lawyers for Clinton wouldn't tell him anything. So he - every day - would stand up there and say, I honestly can't tell you anything. So maybe that's not great scoop. But that was - I found that very interesting.
SIMON: Do you see politics any differently for being on this show for seven seasons?
WALSH: I have sympathy for the people who work for the the loud-mouth people who are in front of the mic. It started out as a workplace comedy. Obviously, Julia's the lead. And we followed in her wake. And I think it humanizes people. Obviously, it's flawed. Like, we push ideals through Congress. But ultimately, there's compromise. And there's just human flaws. So I have sympathy. I would never want to be a politician. But I have true sympathy or empathy for people who have to work in that world for those people.
SIMON: So despite the fact you often lampoon them, it's open...
WALSH: They love it.
WALSH: They love it. And the - obviously, the Republicans think we're making fun of the Democrats. And the Democrats...
WALSH: ...Think we're making fun of the Republicans.
WALSH: So that's the beauty of the show, too - that it's pure fiction. We never say what side she's on.
SIMON: This is your seventh season.
WALSH: And final.
WALSH: Yeah. There was a lot of tears and goodbyes and cards and - because it's a very meaningful experience. We were in the trenches in Baltimore for four years, away from our families. So we bonded in a very deep way. And also, I think the process of the show - we would improvise a lot in rehearsals. And the writers would sort of take notes. So I think we just got very close.
SIMON: Yeah. I have found out - I confess I didn't know this before early this morning - you do a podcast called Bear Down.
WALSH: I do. We've changed the name. But for a long time, it was called Bear Down. And it's a bunch of Chicago comedians who live in LA and just talk sports. And then eventually, it evolved into us doing impersonations of figures in the sports world.
WALSH: And interviewing those people.
SIMON: I've got to hear this.
WALSH: It's fun.
WALSH: It's currently called UCB Sports & Leisure.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
WALSH: Since the dawn of time, man has competed and relaxed. But with that comes responsibility. We go behind the pageantry and ceremony.
It is very much in the tone of NPR. We try to be serious journalists. And we go to towns. And we visit characters. And it's inspired by - I digest a lot of NPR radio. So...
SIMON: Forgive me. You say it's a lot like NPR. We try to be serious journalists. Is that what I heard?
WALSH: Well, you guys are serious journalists.
WALSH: So we...
SIMON: No. I'm not being sensitive.
SIMON: I'm sorry. I...
SIMON: Try is sometimes as close as we can get.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
WALSH: It's nearly impossible to have a conversation about professional sports without mentioning the nation's friendliest game - cornhole.
I'm going to do this little spin. You're allowed to spin like this?
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: You can throw...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: ...It any way you want...
WALSH: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: ...As long as you get it on there. Can you throw it...
WALSH: A one and a two.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: ...Overhand.
WALSH: And a here we go.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Nice toss.
SIMON: When a project like "Veep" comes to a close, I'm assuming you know what's next in your life for the next two years.
WALSH: Hopefully. I think I know what's right for the next two months but two years I don't know.
WALSH: No. I have a couple projects. But we'll see.
SIMON: Ever get anxieties?
SIMON: Of course. You're an actor.
WALSH: Yeah. I think we - (laughter). Yeah. We live job to job.
WALSH: I think Julia called us two years ago, right before the Emmys and said we're going to stop at seven. I think we all assumed it would be eight years. So instantly, I think the reptile actor brain was like, oh, God. I need another job. But in the process of seeing what the final season is and realizing very few shows get to go out on top and get to, like, write their own ending, it's perfect. And so, knock on wood, I'll be fine. I can always bartend if...
WALSH: ...Things to go as I would like them to go. I can always bartend.
SIMON: Matt Walsh. He plays Mike McLintock in "Veep." The season finale premieres tomorrow on HBO. Thanks very much for being with us.
WALSH: Truly a pleasure.
(SOUNDBITE OF L'ORCHESTRA CINEMATIQUE'S "VEEP MAIN THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.