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EXCLUSIVE: Why Reid Scott Was Scared His Character's Attitude Would Get Him Fired From 'Veep'

by Stacy Lambe 12:25 AM PDT, June 14, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

It's always nerve-racking for an actor when their character gets fired, especially in Reid Scott's case. His character, the ambitious and smarmy Dan Egan on HBO's Veep, was let go from the president's staff in season three, prompting Scott to worry if he was also getting fired from the show.

"At first, I was all paranoid, like all obnoxious actors, thinking, 'Oh my god, am I off the job?'" Scott says to ET, recalling a conversation he had with Armando Iannucci, the creator and then-showrunner of the series. "But he said, 'Don't worry. We're going to use Dan and explore other facets of D.C.'"

Since then, Dan's become what Scott calls the "swing guy," who's done a bit of everything from a stint in lobbying to a failed attempt as a CNN analyst. The change was a curveball for Scott, who after a season of playing the character thought he had him all figured out.

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"I realize now he had to take that turn, but at the time, it was tough," Scott says of the character, which quickly changed in season two, leading to his own demise and dismissal in season three. "Armando had that vision. I think he saw all the angles and I think it worked."

But one thing that hasn’t changed is Scott's portrayal of Dan as a ruthless go-getter, who is willing to sleep with Amy Bruckheimer's (Anna Chlumsky) sister in order to get a job at CBS. Turns out the joke is on him, when it's revealed the sibling works at CVS and Dan has seemingly killed any chance of reuniting with Amy. "They would be a terrible couple," he says. "So, I don't know if we really want to see that."

While that the ruthlessness is the kind of thing that makes Dan despicable, it doesn't seem to bother Scott too much. "I try to approach Dan as like he's got a master plan here. Obviously he's Machiavellian. He is conniving and cunning and all that kind of stuff, but it's all part of his master plan to be a success," Scott says. And what is that "master plan?" The actor doesn't want to reveal too much of the conversation he had with Iannucci, unsure if he’ll actually end up there or achieve his goals. "It's fun to watch him fail at least," Scott offers.

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Now, of course, the challenge of season five has been bringing Scott's character back into the fold of the White House, where Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) now sits as president. "So far, it's been brilliant work on the part of our writers to find a way that Dan gets sucked back into this sausage-making machine," he says of the creative team now led by David Mandell, who stepped in as a showrunner after Iannucci left the series. "He did an amazing job of picking up right where we left off."

While he's not quite back in the inner circle, Dan was added to would-be Vice President Thom James' (Hugh Laurie) staff -- just another job before moving on to manage Jonah Ryan's (Timothy Simmons) congressional campaign -- that at least resulted in a nice call back to the pilot.

In one particular scene, Dan realizes he'd been reduced to a bag-man like Gary after they bump into each other while fetching tea for their respective bosses. "I thought it was a great idea," Scott says of the moment, which recalls the moment in the series' first episode when Dan is giving Gary a hard time about the bag he uses to service Meyer. "To come full circle to that was this really great moment and we had a blast doing it. It was really hard to keep a straight face."

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