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‘Veep’s’ Anna Chlumsky on Career Women, Emmys and Showrunner Switching

On the HBO comedy “Veep,” Anna Chlumsky’s Amy Brookheimer is the embodiment of so many career-minded women. So intent on ladder climbing, Amy has forsaken relationships, family obligations and her own well-being — she once announced that she’s used a pen cap to spoon hummus into her mouth — in order to serve at the behest of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer.

This season has seem Amy serving as Selina’s campaign manager as the titular VP-turned-interim-President struggles to hold her seat in the oval office. The promotion has moved her away from the workplace politics and banter between Dan (Reid Scott), Jonah (Timothy Simons), Mike (Matt Walsh), Ben (Ken Dunn) and others — something that has its pros and cons if Amy could put her phone down long enough to see it.

Variety asked Chlumsky about these and other details — such as her chances of landing a third Emmy nomination for the role and about “Veep’s” new showrunner, “Seinfeld” alum David Mandel — while she was taking a break from performing in the play “Living on Love” on Broadway.

Amy’s so indicative of women in their 30s. She’s so career-minded.

I’m always pleasantly surprised that she’s as identifiable as people say she is. When I set out to play Amy, I was definitely pulling from everything and everyone I met in D.C. and just kind of identifying with her job requirements were and what kind of choices make a person stay in that kind of a job. It just has become a testament to, I guess, my work and technique to be worth their salt because it’s led me to find a female character that a lot of women … identify with.

It seems like for Amy, Dan and some of the other characters, losing their job is the worst thing that could happen.

I don’t know about losing their job is the worst thing, but I think the lack of control is the worst thing. I think this is indicative of many people you may meet in D.C. — and in New York or anywhere else too — I think people like to imagine that they’re strategizing their career path; that they’re the architect of their own life. I think what distresses someone like Dan or someone like Amy when it comes to job security is that they want to be the ones calling the shots. It’s all one big chess game for them.

That’s what is the juice for them. When Dan was furloughed [in season two], he was like let’s take this opportunity to to network. He’s always thinking ahead. He’s always looking for the next opportunity. I just think being blind-sided is the enemy for these people.

The Amy-Dan dynamic is interesting. Sometimes they have this brother-sister relationship and other times they have some flirtation.

I think that’s because Amy is not with these guys 24/7 anymore. For the first few seasons, she was around them constantly. Whether or not she liked them, they were still her family. They’re what she’s used to hearing every day. They’re the same sounding board. And now that she’s campaign manager, she’s off in her own office and dealing with all the campaign offices across the country and I think she finds that she misses the old group — especially when she was the boss of the old group.

There’s a relief in familiarity when it comes to Dan. I think they don’t know what they’ve got going either — whether it’s positive or negative, they seem to crave each other’s attention.

The third episode of this season centers on a colossal mishap involving government security and personal information. This is so on point with what’s going on in the news right now. Did you talk about that while filming it?

I think that’s what our show is — our talking about it. That’s why our writers write the episodes because that’s the conversation that they’re engaged in. The very virtue of our filming it means it’s in the minds of at least our writers and, by osmosis, ourselves.

I think the sense of surveillance and the sense of government abuse is age-old. This is something that Orwell wrote about. Even in Roman times, people were concerned about these abuses of power. This is our take on it in the context of our modern society, but I certainly don’t think that it’s specific to any of the current events over the past year or so. It would be relevant in whatever age we were telling the story.

This is the time of year where we start Emmy predictions. You received supporting actress in a comedy nominations the past two years. Some of us at Variety would like you to go for the trifecta. What do you think about the fact that you’re being singled out for this?

It surprises me to no end. It’s a delicious surprise and I’m very grateful that people seem to be watching my work and I love doing my work so much. That said, our show is a huge ensemble show. It’s a very nice surprise whenever the work is singled out. I think all of us speak for one another that it’s an interwoven fabric on our show.

“Veep” is getting a new showrunner next year. Have you had any conversations about what happens when David Mandel joins the show?

I live in New York, so I’m the only regular cast member who’s not around everybody else. But supposedly everybody had a little get together last week and got to meet him.

I have yet to meet him, but I know Julia has great confidence in him. That’s what matters really. This is so much led and produced by Julia. And I know HBO has great confidence in him as well.

You really are living the Amy life, aren’t you? You’re separated from everyone else by being in New York.

LaughsYeah. Maybe the writers figured that one out a little sooner than I realized.

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