By BILL HARRIS
Special to The Lede
HBO’s VEEP is about to take its final victory lap with the series finale airing Sunday, May 12 at 10:50 p.m. ET, only on Crave. Will Selina get to be president again? Could it be Jonah? Or even Richard? Somehow, some way, might Selina find herself right back where she began this comedic journey, in the vice-president’s office?
Few TV shows have ever spoken truth to power - or truth about power - in such a bluntly funny way. So it was only fitting that we asked Timothy Simons, who plays the reprehensible Jonah Ryan and possible next President of the United States, to go through the list of main characters on the show, and give us the first thought that comes into his head.
Q: Let’s start with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer.
Timothy Simons: “Julia is a generationally talented person, and Selina is an all-time great comedic creation.”
Q: Tony Hale as Gary Walsh.
Timothy Simons: “They call Gary the world’s bitchiest mime, because he has an ability, and they would even put it in the scripts sometimes, it would simply say, ‘Gary makes a noise.’ And Tony would know what to do, and make the funniest possible noise. I think, like a lot of people, my favourite relationship on the show is the almost parasitic relationship between Selina and Gary, and how unhealthy it is, and how unbalanced it is. I think that is really, really funny.”
Q: Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer.
Timothy Simons: “Amy has one of my favourite moments in the entire show, which is when she tells a waiter, ‘I’ve eaten hummus with a pen cap, don’t tell me how I can eat.’ Sometimes it’s the little moments.”
Q: Reid Scott as Dan Eagan.
Timothy Simons: “Dan is as close to a sociopath as you can get, even though you are still kind of charmed by him, and you still like him. Dan just has no morality, none at all.”
Q: Matt Walsh as Mike McLintock.
Timothy Simons: “The thing I’m going to remember is that every once in a while, between snacks, Mike would have a good idea. Most people will remember Mike as this guy who ate too much and didn’t know what he was doing, but I always liked seeing the moments where Mike was really in his element, and actually knew exactly how to work the press. That always made me laugh, when you would see Mike kind of ‘Fozzy Bear’ his way out of situations.”
Q: Kevin Dunn as Ben Cafferty.
Timothy Simons: “I will always remember Ben sitting in his closet, with his big cup, just a miserable man, but the funniest thing you can imagine. Just a checked-out alcoholic, going from campaign to campaign, until they die. I think there probably are a lot of those guys.”
Q: Gary Cole as Kent Davison.
Timothy Simons: “What I love is how easily they were able to transition Kent from being a villain in the second season to being a beloved member of the crew in the third. And I remember very clearly in the third season when they cracked how to do Kent jokes. It was gobsmacking how funny they were. Once that turned, Kent became one of the funniest characters on the show. He just looks at numbers. I feel like Kent doesn’t have emotions. He doesn’t even have the emotions that would lead someone to be cynical.”
Q: Sam Richardson as Richard Splett.
Timothy Simons: “Once Richard and Jonah were together, it just kind of worked. We’re natural foils, both in physicality and in the characters’ world views. Richard is so buoyantly positive, and Jonah is so furrow-browed negative and frustrated all the time. As for Sam, he is somebody who, as a scene partner or someone to perform comedy with, there is nothing that Sam can’t receive in a scene and then make better. You can throw anything at Sam and he is going to make it better. He’s incredible like that. He’s awesome.”
Q: And finally, the character that you play, Jonah Ryan.
Timothy Simons: “Jonah can be a lot, so I don’t think there are many guys exactly like him in real life. But I do think there are a lot of charmless, ambitious guys, with no skill and no talent, who are just graceless, but fail upward. I think there are a bunch of those. A few years ago, you might have thought, okay, someone like Jonah might try to run for president, but he would kneecap his own campaign very early. But now, saying the worst thing imaginable not only does not hurt you, it could actually help you. It’s like a boon to your campaign.”
Q: So real-life politics have made Jonah’s candidacy seem more viable? That’s fascinating.
Timothy Simons: “Real-life politics have made our show look aspirational, and made Jonah’s campaign look rational, like something that could actually happen. I think it’s more terrifying than fascinating, but sure, I’ll go with fascinating for now.”