Questions for Anna Chlumsky
The My Girl star talks about the upcoming HBO series VEEP, her turn as Liz Lemon's nemesis, and her life-changing encounter with a psychic.
Chlumsky: I don't have any Malcolm-style tirades. I have no idea what made it into the pilot, but as we were filming there were some zingers that I liked.
Slate: Iannucci has a fundamentally cynical view of politics—do you share that view?
Chlumsky: I suppose it could be seen as cynical, but to me it just seems fair and rational. This is something that I loved about In the Loop. To me [Iannucci] is so refreshing because he confirms that politics is not a religion. A lot of people turn it into some kind of comic book, fantasy type thing where it's about good and evil, bad guys and good guys. It's not supernatural—it's just people with jobs. They go to work and drink coffee. Some people are good at it and some people are bad at it. This is life, and they carry on and make decisions, and there can be a lot of absurdity involved in that. It can shed light on something that you already see is true.
Slate: But wasn't there something futile about the way politics are conducted in In the Loop?
Chlumsky: I agree that there's a sense of "nobody's a hero," so there's a futility in that sense. Does it mean that it's a bad thing? I don't know. Is just is. VEEP is going to be like that. Nobody's safe.
I get so bored when this person's bad and this person's good. My first litmus test when I see a piece or read a piece is: Is someone feeding me answers or did I leave with questions? That's for me the only way to make an excellent piece.
Slate: Speaking of excellence, you were on an episode of 30 Rock as Liz Lemon's nemesis, Liz Lemler. How was that experience?
Chlumsky: It was great! That role changed as we did it. We went in wondering, is she going to be a bitch? Or a snide person? Or this way or that way? It came out very differently than we thought it would. It makes for great comedy, we had a blast.
Slate: Finally, what's the best thing you saw on the Internet this week?
Chlumsky: I had some good experiences this week. I enjoyed a New York Times article about Petraeus and Panetta ["Panetta and Petraeus in Line for Top Security Posts"]. Wait, I want to find something more fun … This is the most fun thing! There's this thing that I do every once in a while, The Color Quiz—I swear to god it works. It's kind of like reading a horoscope. It's a psychological test. It does your psychology, based on how you felt that day.
Slate: Much like the mood ring at the center of My Girl!
Chlumsky: Except this works—mood rings don't work. I've had more experiences with this quiz where I'm going, yeah, right on! This is exactly how I'm feeling! It's an emotional pulse.
Interview has been condensed and edited.