‘Veep’ Stars Gary Cole, Reid Scott, and Sam Richardson on Season 6 and What Makes Kent So Fascinating
After five seasons, a change in showrunners and the real-life 2016 Presidential election, not only is Veep still going strong, it continues to get better every year — more biting, more brazen, and always more hilarious. With Season 5 hitting DVD and Blu-ray this week ahead of next Sunday’s Season 6 premiere, we sat down with stars Gary Cole, Reid Scott, and Sam Richardson to discuss the return of the HBO series, their favorite moments from Season 5, and what makes Kent so fascinating.
Since Season 5 didn’t end on the happiest note for Selina, I’ve wondered if the current political tone in our country has had any bearing on the story plans for Season 6.
Gary Cole: First of all, the show has a world of its own, so in terms of the show we don’t really acknowledge necessarily what is taking place, if that needs to be isolated at all, and so it doesn’t really affect that world. We were and always have been in our own time and not borrowing anything specific from people or places other than maybe circumstances that happen, but I’m not sure that I view things as depressing.
I think the climate of what’s going on is, to me, almost in a way inevitable. I stood a lot with how divided this country is for quite a long time, and I think all the rapid changes in technology and social media mixed up with politics — I think that has a lot to do with it, and I think that has an effect on everything. In terms of the show, what happens is that there’s a lot of what happens to an administration when it dissolves. A lot of randomness and a lot of people scattered, and they try to survive, and the writers have been able to portray that really well, so you see people in a lot of different areas.
Reid, does that mean we’ll see Dan at CBS? Last we saw, you received a call from CBS — like, the actual network and not CVS, the pharmacy.
Reid Scott: Yeah [laughs], Dan finally gets to dip his toe deeper into the world of broadcasting. It’s very fitting for a guy like Dan, who really values himself over everyone else, so of course he belongs on TV. But also it gave us a new subject to satirize and explore because the news has always been a part of our show, and how Selina reacts to the media at times because it’s part and parcel, but it takes a decided turn. It’s just a different part of the media, but you still see the connections and, again, this season is really cool because it follows these characters in the aftermath of an election loss. Where do these people go? They move on and find other jobs, the band breaks up to a certain degree. Some people stay together, some people go into business together, some people move on — so it’s really fun to dig into the personal life of these characters.
In a show full of great characters and hilarious people, Richard may have a slight edge when it comes to being my personal favorite. Sam, I don’t even think you have to say anything — you just appear on screen and I start laughing.
Sam Richardson: That’s good to know.
Scott: [laughing] Now you don’t have to really work. Just show up.
So with everyone scattered in Season 6, what does that mean for Richard?
Richardson: At the end of Season 5 Selina and Richard had a little ...
A little moment.
Richardson: A little moment. So in Season 6, without spoiling too much, you’ll see Richard a little more closely with Selina, who’s moving towards trying to make a legacy for herself. He spends more time in that orbit in the upcoming season.
We’ve seen so much of Dan’s personal life because he’s always bringing it to work, but Kent is such a mystery.
Scott: So good.
What does that guy do when he goes home? How does Kent spend a typical Sunday afternoon?
Cole: Even I don’t know.
Surely you have your own ideas.
Cole: I call my personal consultant [showrunner] David Mandel [laughs]. There’s a few interesting surprises just under the radar. There’s a large dinner party somewhere buried in the season, with not all of the characters, but about half of them are regular characters and then half are other people kind of woven into that specific story — and Kent has a date. And that’s all I’ll say. It’s unusual.
As someone who’s been obsessed with every breadcrumb from Kent’s personal life, that’s really exciting.
Cole: It’s not a big deal, but I found it a great writers’ touch.
Scott: Was it Season 5 [that we saw Kent] with the motorcycle gang?
Cole: The end of last year.
Scott: [laughs] It was amazing.
Cole: That was out of left field.
Scott: But so fitting, too.
Kent is so odd and elusive that seeing him with a motorcycle gang felt really believable, though.
Cole: I think the intention is ... the writers room is like, every time he shows up somewhere, they go, “Wait a minute, that? Really?” And then he just falls back, wears a suit, and walks around until something unexpected happens down the road again. It’s off-balance, but I think he’s always been there. I think that’s the purpose of that character…
Scott: He’s unbalanced.
Cole: Yeah, but I remember being in a lot of scenes where the sense I got was that he wouldn’t really say much and then when he did say something, the conversation in the room stopped and everybody glared at him like, “Who is this guy?”
Richardson: The things he cares about aren’t the things that everybody else cares about.
We should probably talk a little bit more about Season 5, which hits Blu-ray just a few days before the Season 6 premiere.
Richardson: I bought a Blu-ray disc just last week!
That’s not very shocking. I still buy a lot of CDs.
Scott: Do you listen to them on a CD player, though?
In my car.
Okay, I promised the kind people from HBO that we would talk about Season 5! Why don’t we talk about some of your favorite moments.
Cole: From Season 5? That’s the season [where Selina’s] mom dies, right? I think it’s called “Mother.” I thought it was a great look into her character and maybe why she is the way she is because they examine the relationship with her mother — even though there was no dialogue, obviously, between her and her mother, and I thought the absurdity of it ... I like the fact that it was all centered in a funeral, in a hospital room where she was actually dying and [Selina] was more focused on the election than necessarily what was happening in front of her. I think that was a nice microcosm of the show and of how it mixes that darkness with humor.
How about you, Sam?
Richardson: It was really fun when we were off on Jonah’s campaign. There was a lot of fun stuff there.
Scott: Yeah [laughs].
Richardson: And working with Peter MacNichol ...
Richardson: There were just so many things. Every day. I think one of my favorites was when we were doing the debate, and he’s like, doing this face, and saying [Richardson does an impression of MacNichol shouting that sounds more like an elderly cartoon woman], “Shut the f— up!” And he was screaming, and he could legit make you jump. I try not to jump because maybe Richard wouldn’t jump. He’s like this ball of energy.
Cole: They’ve never had [Dan] Bakkedahl and him in a scene together, have they?
Scott: Ooh, I don’t know. That’s a good point.
Cole: They should try to fire that out.
Richardson: [laughs] Yeah they should.
Scott: They can be like old buddies, and they’re so much tamer.
Richardson: Yeah, and they’re so sweet to each other [laughs].
What was your favorite part of Season 5, Reid?
Scott: Man, it’s going to be some of the New Hampshire stuff for sure just because — and I know Gary said it earlier — the show does a really great job of blowing itself up every season. Like, when you finally think you know how this show works or how these characters work or they are obviously going to be going down this path, they just take a left turn. I think to do the New Hampshire story, because Dan and Jonah had this stuff specifically, just such a horrible relationship since the very beginning, since Season 1, like going to the hardcore metal club together and all that stuff, and for him to now be working for Jonah was so great. We had our own little show within a show. It was really fun and different and silly.
Richardson: Some of that stuff from Season 4 into 5 had a bit of a Three Stooges…
Scott: Oh yeah! But I had the four stooges because it was like having Peter there, too, you had Curly, you had Mo, you had Larry…
[Scott and Richardson]: And Shemp!
Scott: It was like the best sandwich. It had everything on it. It was like a muffaletta sandwich. It was great.
Gary had that brilliant idea of pairing Dan Bakkedahl and Peter MacNichol together — what are some other unexplored or unexpected character pairings you guys would like to see?
Scott: Oh, man. It’s like a murderer’s row, I don’t even ...
Richardson: I really think Richard and Kent would have a very interesting…
Yes! This is what I’m talking about.
Cole: That would be oddball, but I always look at these writers and how they work, and the fact that most of them are present while we are shooting and they watch every frame of film, every take — and I really trust them with whatever their instinct is, and they probably will come up with more left turns the more we continue, however long we continue to go. It seems like that’s what they will do because that’s the nature of the show since day one. It’s never gotten comfortable enough with itself to say, “Oh, this is what works great, so let’s keep doing this.” It never does that.
It’s impressively unpredictable. I didn’t expect for the Season 5 finale to be so sad, but when Selina interrupted that White House tour it was such a surprisingly poignant moment. I actually cried.
Cole: And again, they had these great pieces — you have this sad image of her sitting in that park, and the helicopter doesn’t land and she sits on the thing, and you see the Washington Monument in the background. Then she looks up and it’s raining, and she says, “Well maybe that’ll f— up her parade.”
Cole: That’s it. That’s the core. It never rolls off the cliff of any sentiment. It gets close, maybe, once in a while, and then [claps hands together] the knife comes up.
Veep Season 5 is now on Blu-ray and DVD. Season 6 premieres on HBO Sunday, April 16.