In what is purely coincidental timing, Anna Chlumsky is on the phone with ET to discuss Veep as former FBI director James Comey is testifying before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. In the days leading up to it and as it was happening, the testimony was covered with the kind of fanfare that seemed more likely to happen on the HBO political comedy than in real life. But there it was, #ComeyDay, happening as we spoke. “At the very least is that it's teaching everybody to freaking cover their ass,” Chlumsky chuckled. “C-Y-A. Cover Yo Ass!”
And the longtime actress knows a thing or two about the idea, having played Amy Brookheimer, the deputy chief of staff to former (Vice-) President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), for the past six seasons. As the put-upon, uptight staffer, Chlumsky has dealt with her fair share of scandals and cover-ups, which seem to be spilling over entirely this season, which concludes on Sunday, June 25.
“I’m so eager to see Amy kind of win again,” Chlumsky says of what she hopes is to come for her character, who has sunk to new lows. After a failed campaign and engagement to budding Nevada politician Buddy Calhoun (Matt Oberg), Amy is (begrudgingly, it seems) back in Selina’s fold, working to clean up the mess left behind by the former president. “That brought out the worst in her, didn’t it?” The latest is the fallout over Selina’s memoir, which seems to have skated over certain details that the press has uncovered of her short tenure in the Oval Office.
Chlumsky concedes that her high-strung character has been on a bit of a “downward spiral” since the beginning of the series, saying that power has really slipped through her fingers. “In order to win at life or at -- definitely at government -- Amy needs to tap into some really nasty parts of herself,” she says of Amy, who is often reduced to profane-ridden tirades at the slightest disruption. “We’ve seen tastes of that before, like in the London episode [2014’s “Special Relationship”] or when she became campaign manager. So I just really think it could be delicious to have her claw her way back to some semblance of success and victory.”
With Veep renewed for a seventh season, it’s easy to wonder where Amy goes from here and what a victory would even look like. In the short term, Amy’s biggest victory may be just staying afloat in Selina’s wake. But in the future, Chlumsky thinks her character’s success lies elsewhere, beyond the clutches of public life. “If I had a vision board for Amy Brookheimer, it would be of her standing behind a big old power desk, in a power suit, for Fortune’s 500 Most Powerful Women,” she says. Success also probably won’t be defined by romance, given Amy’s consistent failures throughout the series. However, Chlumsky understands fans’ desire for Amy and former staffer-turned-TV personality Dan Egan (Reid Scott) to end up together. “I think that anything’s possible, especially for those two. I think they surprise themselves and they betray themselves all the time when in each other’s company.”
Before looking too far into Amy’s future, ET was asked by Veep showrunner David Mandel to find out Chlumsky’s favorite scene from this season.
Chlumsky’s response: “A wild goose chase of sorts” that sees Amy and fellow Selina staffer Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) “end up in a bathroom” in episode eight (“Judge”). “I feel really validated,” she says of the query.
But just as soon as Chlumsky feels any reassurance, the moment is ruined by Mandel’s follow-up. “Do you think Vada tells her kids about Thomas J. someday?” he asked, referring to Chlumsky’s 1991 breakout role in My Girl, which (26-year-old spoiler alert!) sees Vada (Chlumsky) lose her best friend (Macaulay Culkin) to a fatal bee attack.
“Now I'm ashamed,” Chlumsky jokes, admitting that she can't ever get through an interview without someone mentioning My Girl. And now, her boss has ruined it for her during this one. But she dutifully responds, saying: “Definitely, because that's what you do right? You scare your kids into thinking that they'll die if they do anything wrong. So, yeah, I think that she would definitely be like, ‘Don't do that or you'll end up like Thomas J.’”
In the 26 years since My Girl premiered, Chlumsky has left Vada far behind. She’s a four-time Emmy nominee for Veep (an honor the actress describes as "terribly encouraging"),a wife and mother of daughters Penelope and Clara. Her professional and personal success, she says, has allowed her to be selective when it comes the trajectory of her career, especially in the years following Veep’s premiere. “Since I have the opportunity to take the jobs that I’m picky about, I think I owe it to myself to do that.”
Her latest venture outside of the HBO realm is a recurring role as Dr. Katie Herman on AMC’s fourth and final season of Halt and Catch Fire opposite Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis, Scoot McNairy and Toby Huss. “Every day working with [the cast] -- it’s just heaven. I’m enjoying it so freaking much, because they’re just so good. And that just always what I’m looking for: a good story, good people,” Chlumsky says. But her future is not limited to acting as she ponders work behind the camera. “For a long time people have asked me if I want to [direct] and that’s because they can tell that I’ve got some kind of ‘opinions’ [on set],” she says. “It terrifies me, but every day I get more open to that because it’s just another way to tell stories.”
While nothing official is in the works, the actress thinks about what it would be like to take the helm of Veep for an episode. She says she would expect to see that same “opinionated” quality from Louis-Dreyfus, acknowledging that neither actress has earned her successful career by staying quiet all the time. “It is worth reminding me and reminding any strong-willed woman that that’s OK,” Chlumsky says.