Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky talks about the thrill of playing Amy Brookheimer, acting on the show during the Trump administration, and Amy’s Season 6 future.
Maybe it’s just me. Whenever I think of Veep‘s Emmy-nominated Anna Chlumsky, Amy Brookheimer doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Instead, I recall bees, glasses, and a little kid in a casket seen through my own watery eyes. Her 1991 film My Girl, in which she co-starred with Macaulay Culkin, quietly devastated a generation, but Anna Chlumsky doesn’t share that same experience.
“I feel like as we get older and we go through a couple of decades, I feel like youth becomes so much more elusive. It’s that thing where you can’t even tell if certain memories are your own or if they’re because you’ve told the stories long enough,” Chlumsky laughs. “I don’t think too often on when I was 10 years old, but I’ve noticed… we’ve actually gotten to that part in history where it’s not even as much of a given that people have seen it. That was kind of sobering… and welcome.”
So, even if the world doesn’t remember My Girl as well as I do, literally everyone talks about Anna Chlumsky and her infamous – and infamously filthy – turn as Veep‘s Amy Brookheimer. Chlumsky received four consecutive Emmy nominations for her role as the former Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) Vice Presidential Chief of Staff and later campaign manager for the Meyer presidential run. Now, in Season 6, with the Meyer era over, political winds scattered the cast in their own hilarious directions. Chlumsky’s Brookheimer materialized in the Nevada gubernatorial campaign for fiancee Buddy Calhoun (Matt Oberg). Their relationship, now likely defunct after the events of last night’s Episode 3, doesn’t seem like one entirely based on love.
“That’s the fun part of having a year’s lapse. You don’t necessarily know how it evolved or how it got to that place. I don’t think she’s been in love that many times in her life if at all. When we closed out last season, it was really a fun episode to play. What is Amy in love? What does that look like?,” Chlumsky explains. “I think she genuinely thought she was, but as things went along in Nevada, the bloom went off the rose. I think that her campaigning for him is her last-ditch effort at making something grand out of this waning relationship. She likes the idea of marriage, but somehow it was against her true compass.”
The Evolution of Amy Brookheimer
Naturally, there were roles in between, but to the casual eye, the evolution of Anna Chlumsky from My Girl’s Vada to Veep‘s Amy Brookheimer feels dramatic. Sure, Vada was a 10-year-old child, but who would have ever expected that child to grow up spouting such vitriolic lines like this from Season 4’s “Convention” episode:
I have bitten my tongue so long, it looks like a dog’s cushion. But no more! You have made it impossible to do this job. You have two settings-no decision and bad decision. I wouldn’t let you run a bath without having the Coast Guard and the fire department standing by, but yet here you are running America. You are the worst thing that has happened to this country since food in buckets and maybe slavery!
You have achieved nothing apart from one thing. The fact that you are a woman means we will have no more women presidents because we tried one and she fucking sucked. Goodbye, ma’am.
Chlumsky took a hiatus from acting to attend the University of Chicago where she earned a BA in International Studies. That background coupled with additional television and theatrical performances led to In the Loop‘s Liza Weld, a State Department assistant often considered a rough prototype for Brookheimer. When Armando Iannucci translated his In the Loop to HBO’s Veep, Chlumsky won the role of a lifetime, one in which she rocked that legendary meltdown against Selina Meyer.
“It was really cathartic, and I felt really jazzed to do it. I hadn’t gotten many opportunities in that role yet to really let it go… and have the character let the lid off,” Chlumsky beams. “Everybody was super supportive and fun to play off and play with. It just cooked. That’s the feeling that I’m always in this business for. It’s a really unique experience when you feel like everybody’s really firing on all cylinders and there for one another. It’s a really great feeling.”
Veep and the Trump Administration
Upon the completion of the 2016 election cycle, everyone wondered how politically savvy shows like HBO’s Veep would react. Admittedly, it’s not the most important side effect of the election, but it’s one to which Veep‘s cast and crew reacted strongly.
“I think that there were parts of us that were so afraid of that happening. Every step along that election cycle, people kept saying, ‘He can’t possibly win this primary, and he can’t possibly win the election.’ It’s like the more he kept defying people’s predictions, the more we started to feel like… could he???” Chlumsky recalls. “I don’t think any of us really thought of it as a possibility. I was always an enormous fan of the Obama Administration, and even though they were baby steps, there still felt like cultural progress during his administration. We took it for granted that love beats out all. It was extremely sobering.”
While Veep comically depicts a fictitious first female President of the United States, America did come achingly close to the real thing. On the close of Trump’s first 100 days, Chlumsky posits what an Amy Brookheimer-run Hillary Clinton campaign would have looked like. Would that have changed the outcome?
“Sadly, I don’t know if there would have been an alternate or better outcome just because I’ve learned now, as a viewer, that Amy isn’t as effective as she would like to think,” Chlumsky laughs. “She puts a really good face on her foibles, but she certainly has many. I feel like the problem that happened with that campaign was that they were all Amy Brookheimers. They all knew the game inside and out, and they felt like they knew how to win it and game it but playing by the rules. They didn’t realize they were playing the wrong game.”
Season 6 and Beyond with Amy Brookheimer
With Veep Season 6, Selina Meyer and her former team scattered and went their separate ways. Some remained in politics. Some desperately want to return to politics. And some found careers in the private sector. But not Amy Brookheimer. She latched onto Buddy Calhoun and tried to run his campaign in the staid Brookheimer fashion.
“I think she’s so entrenched in her previous experience and in what she knows. I’ve been psychoanalyzing Amy lately, actually. I almost wonder if the poor gal peaked when we met her. She really loves winning and work because that’s where she wins,” Chlumsky explained. “She was still making history as first female Chief of Staff for the first female Vice President, and she was young for that job. That was her wheelhouse! When the campaign and administration went as it did, I think she’s just been floundering. Now, she’s trying to find a way back to where she was when we first met her and to get back on that path. That’s a path she likes.”
Moving forward, how will Amy Brookheimer return to that path? The Calhoun campaign floundered, and that engagement appears null and void. So, what’s next for her? Chlumsky describes Amy’s experience as very much an extension of Selina Meyer’s Season 6 identity crisis.
“I think that Amy also is completely lost and has no idea where she belongs,” Chlumsky offers. “She aligns herself with Selina again, but she naively thinks that Selina will somehow point her back in that direction. As we all know, things don’t turn out that well in Veep. It’s a lot of flailing, poor thing.”
Flailing, however, does not describe the career of Anna Chlumsky. After receiving four consecutive Emmy nominations for the role, a fifth nomination based on the success of Season 6 feels certain. Particularly since Chlumsky pops more in the first Season 6 episodes thanks to Amy’s reluctance to evolve beyond campaign mode. When the Television Academy announces Emmy nominations in mid-July, Chlumsky’s name should be on that list.
“The first [Emmy nomination] was like Christmas. It was something else. It was really like grown-up Christmas,” Chlumsky beamed.
Here’s hoping we’re wishing you Happy Christmas in July, Anna Chlumsky.