EXCLUSIVE: 'Veep' Star Reid Scott on the Show's 'Brilliant' Move This Season, and What's Next for Dan Egan
By Lauren Zima
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This season on HBO's Emmy-winning show Veep, Reid Scott's character, Dan Egan, has become 'Danny' Egan and is co-anchoring CBS This Morning. Monday, May 8, the actor himself guest co-hosted the real-life show. Just days earlier, ET sat down with him to talk all things Veep, Dan and being a d***.
ET: Veep started off season 6 by fast-forwarding one year, and the core group had all split up. How did you react when you read the season premiere script?
Reid Scott: I thought it was a brilliant move because so much had happened. When [Selina] loses the election, it's like where do you go from here? Honestly we all wondered if we would even come back! ... But they said, "Of course, we want you guys to come back," and to explore what happens when an administration breaks up and everyone moves on and takes other jobs, it's fun! You get to dig down a little deeper on all the characters, so we we're all really excited to learn more about our characters in a way that we haven't after five previous seasons.
Love that, but, Dan also still seems like same old Dan!
(laughs) Dan is nothing if not emotionally shallow, so it's not like he's going to have a whole lot of growth. But, just to see him do something sort of different and apply his Machiavellian backstabbing techniques to a different industry, in this case, broadcast journalism! People don't change, they become more of who they were, and that's been part of the fun. Now the reins have been loosened since we weren't all together. It's not about how the characters fit necessarily together but what are they like on their own.
Does Dan have any morals?
Does Dan have any standards with women?
Dan will go extremely low! Bottom line, it needs to do something for him career-wise. ... He's not a typical Lothario; I don't think he's trying to sleep his way through town. He's very calculated. It's always, 'Who can get me the next interview, the next job, one step higher on that ladder?' He's just a d**k! He's just a d**k. He doesn't call. He doesn't write.
As low as they are, we love all the characters. Will the whole gang get back together?
I don't want to give too much away! ... We definitely all cross paths at some point and there are some fun surprises coming in later episodes. ... Dan is very much on his own this season ... I missed everybody a lot. The wonderful guest stars we have, like Margaret Colin, are incredible and to get to work with her is a treat. ... But we're a really tight-knit cast so we always have the most fun in those big, swirling scenes when it's all of us together. ...There are some big surprises coming!
When you are all together in those scenes, which cast member has everyone else laughing the most?
Oh, Tony Hale! First of all, he is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, so you always feel comfortable around him. He's also one of the funniest people you're ever going to meet. Tony has this uncanny ability to go broad with his comedy but then also somehow keep it contained in the world, so it never seems like shtick. It never seems over-the-top because it works within the character that he's developed. But man, it's so goddamn funny to look over and see those big eyes or whatever expression he's doing, and it inevitably makes one of us crack up and laugh, which just sends him off the rails...and then we're all sort of falling all over each other.
We love seeing Dan (and you!) on CBS This Morning. Did you get advice from any real journalists before filming?
I made the decision to not shadow anyone because I didn't want to mimic anyone. I didn't want to pick up any particular affectation that might be misconstrued as, 'Oh, that's so Charlie Rose,' or that's so whoever, so I just watched a lot, but I didn't want to get too close.
And did this all come from that CVS/CBS joke when Dan slept with Amy's sister?
It actually did! That joke was pitched early on. We have a long rehearsal process, where we get a lot of the scripts, or at least ideas, in advance, and we play around with them. This doesn't happen a lot on TV shows, you don't usually get a lot of rehearsal, which is what i think makes Veep work the way it does. ... Originally, Dan was going to just sleep with Amy's sister because he liked how she treated him like s**t. ... I was like, "I think it needs to be something more." So they came up with this really funny twist that he mishears her and thinks she works at CBS News when actually she works at CVS. The joke worked and then we just kept on rolling into it. ... This tiny, little seed of a joke [has] spawned an entire storyline for the season.
Everything eventually falls apart for Dan. Is he going to sleep with his co-host?
(laughs) He's Dan!
Fair enough! There was a moment seasons ago when Dan and Selina sat down and shared something really personal. It seemed like they were about to hook up. Will that ever happen?
Oh, god -- I don't think so. It was fun to tease that. We still laugh about that! It was such a strange, intimate moment. She asks him to be campaign manager, so there's some excitement, late nights. As we've seen last election cycle, campaign managers can get very close with their candidates and they have to be. ... So we were playing with that, and we took it right up to that moment when you think they're gonna kiss -- and then he admits he killed a dog as a child...They told me, "Dan's going to admit he killed a dog, but have fun with it!" (laughs) He's such a sociopath. It's kind of perfect.
What have you learned from working with Julia Louis-Dreyfus?
She drives the show, and not just in that she's the Veep, but I've never worked with anyone who works harder than JLD. She's constantly finding a way to tweak this scene, make it better, get everyone else involved -- and in the most unselfish way. Actors, we can typically want the spotlight, want the moment. She's really great at passing it around. Not just giving everyone their turn, but also [doing] what makes the scene work. It's been a master class to work with her ... And, she's a regular gal. I think at this point it's pretty clear that she's the greatest comedic actress of all time, and the attention, the awards, she totally deserves it, but despite that she's just a really cool chick.
What moment have you been so surprised to see in a script -- something you couldn't believe Dan did?
The nervous breakdown that he had after not being able to hack the pressure ... It was hard. The world of Veep moves so fast, it was pretty quick between him getting the job and having the nervous breakdown. To get it to that point was tough, but again, really fun and very fitting. I love the fact that Dan always fails.
Favorite Dan line ever?
I want to say it was season four, and of course, it's Dan and Jonah. Someone had said Jonah looked like someone who would f**k a chicken. And I told him, I'm sorry, but we couldn't have a chicken f**ker working in the White House. (laughs) "Chicken f**ker." Something about the hard "k."
At different points it's seemed liked Dan and Amy might get together. Do you foresee that happening?
They're so toxic with one another. We've talked about it as a cast and with the writers. They need each other. ... My honest answer is I don't know if they're ever going to get there ... It's not that the writers have been trying to keep a secret from us. One of the fun things about Veep is we explore these things as we go, nothing is too predetermined until we see how the episodes are working out.
You mentioned long rehearsals. How much does the cast improvise?
From early days, from our creator, Armando Iannucci, we were encouraged to really take ownership of the characters. That's carried over to David Mandel and his team, who have done an amazing job taking over. ... So, we do improv quite a bit, but it's not this free-form type of show....The writing is so strong...We're all so invested in the show as a cast that we'll actually be together rehearsing scenes that we might not even be in, and someone might shout out an idea. ... Light bulbs go off, it's a very all-hands-on-deck kind of thing. The writers, actors, directors, we all really collaborate.
The show has had some amazing guest stars. Anyone you want but haven't gotten yet?
Going back to maybe season one or two, even, we were very close to getting Michael Keaton to come on. When word hit the cast we were like, "Oh my god, that would be incredible." I think it was a timing thing, it just didn't work out. That would've been a dream come true.
What discussions were there about heading into season six in terms of whether to touch on what is really going on in politics?
We had a lot of discussions about it. Of course the big question is, when you're political satire, and the real world is sort of beating you to the punch in terms of who's going to set themselves on fire first, how do you handle that? From a very early point, I think right after [filming] season five -- we finished it last spring, the election was ramping up -- they made the decision that we were not really going to go after that. ... There are little bits that might weave in there. ... We always love to laugh that both sides of the aisle think that we're skewering the other one!
Do you talk about how many more seasons there might be?
Twenty more seasons! ... It could go on forever. There's an endless supply of stuff to play with. I hope there's going to be more, I think there might be more. We'll see.
Veep airs Sunday nights on HBO. To hear what Julia Louis-Dreyfus thinks about the future of the series, watch the video below.