EXCLUSIVE: 'Veep' Matt Walsh Star Matt Walsh Breaks Through the Pack
By Stacy Lambe
“In truth, I always felt like an ensemble member,” Matt
Walsh tells ET about playing dimwitted communications director Mike McLintock on HBO’s Veep, which stars Julia
Louis-Dreyfus as the titular second in command-turned-president, Selina Meyer. A reliable supporting player in a long list of
TV shows and films, Walsh is enjoying some well-deserved attention for the HBO
comedy and a much-talked-about role in this summer’s Ghostbusters.
“One thing I've noticed: As each season has gone on, we all
have been allowed to swim outside of Selina's wake,” the 51-year-old actor
continues. “On the first season, I felt like we were just skiing behind Selina
and running through hallways in D.C. As the seasons have gone on, we're all spun
For McLintock, that means buying a boat, getting married to
his onscreen wife, Kathy Najimy, and in season five, exploring life as a family
man while trying to adopt. “I do have the luxury [of Mike] having a personal
life, where some of the other characters, you never witness anyone in their
life outside of D.C.,” Walsh says. “Him getting married was a discovery, like,
‘Oh, he can actually find happiness outside of work where a lot of these guys
That personal life all comes to a head in the season’s
penultimate episode, “Kissing Your Sister,” which delivers the punchlines to several
season-long jokes through the perspective of Catherine Meyer’s (Selina’s
put-upon daughter, played by Sarah Sutherland) documentary. In McLintock’s
case, it’s seeing his adoption saga unfold as he readies (and un-readies) a
basement room while his colleagues -- Meyer included -- secretly determine how
to rid him from her staff.
“That has been incrementally added up through the seasons,”
The process of filming “Kissing Your Sister” also proved to
be a nice alternative from the usual process. Directed by David Mandel, who
took over as showrunner this season after creator Armando Iannucci left the
series, he asked the cast questions off-camera during the documentary’s
confessionals. “It was fun to have Dave paint you into a corner and ask
difficult questions. I always liked that freedom to have a free take or just go
off and ramble,” Walsh says of his “keep-it-rolling vibe.”
The addition of Mandel also meant a new team of writers.
“There were some nerves,” Walsh says, “but ultimately they were awesome and
they kept the tone of the show intact.”
“The transition was really seamless,” Hale says of the staff changes. “I am hugely thankful for that because it doesn't always work out that way.” When it comes to Walsh’s nomination, Hale couldn’t be more excited for his co-star. “I love that man,” he says. “He is incredibly talented.”
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With both co-stars nominated alongside Louis-Dreyfus, it’s
safe to assume that the three will do a bit on the Emmy stage, if Louis-Dreyfus
should accept the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for a
fifth consecutive time.
“I’m sure I’ll get a call from Julia two or three days
before going, ‘What if we win? We have to come up with a bit,’” Walsh says,
adding that there’s usually a brainstorm over text message before they convene
the morning of the awards. “We don’t literally rehearse, but we do go through
bullet points, like what we do on the show. Like, keep it loose, but this is
what we’re going to do.”
But aside from all the gags, Walsh is basking in his own
glory, even if just for a moment.
“I’m super proud to be on Veep. It’s a blessing to have a show each fall and a character that
you’ve been able to do for five seasons,” Walsh says. “I’ve been one-and-done
on so many shows, which were funny, but they don’t come back. Then on top of
that, to get recognition from your friends and peers is tremendous. The hoopla
around the Emmys is fun too.”