Veep’s Matt Walsh on Real-Life Politics and Maintaining a ‘Pristine Fiction’ on the Show

And what he's been binge watching


Specs
Age 51
Claim to fame Stars as press secretary Mike McLintock on HBO's Veep (Sundays, 10:30 p.m.)
Base Los Angeles
Twitter @mrmattwalsh

Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning?
Matt Walsh: First thing would probably be skimming emails and checking Twitter.

Your Twitter bio says you were an early adopter. How'd you get started on there?
My friend [comedian] Paul Scheer was a big Twitter guy back then, and he said, "You should do it." At the time, I was promoting a TV show called Players, which was short-lived, and he told me it was a smart move to communicate to your fans what you're up to.

Do you use Twitter differently now versus when you joined in 2009?
I do think I track news off of it more than I used to. I remember when Michael Jackson died, I pulled that off of Twitter before I saw it anywhere else. That's when I realized, "Oh wow, this is a real news ticker." I think I [tweet] less now. I just try to write something once in a while, almost like homework.

Do you listen to any podcasts?
You Must Remember This. That's a good one. I listen to Krista Tippett's On Being. It's sort of like a Charlie Rose interview, but it tends to be about spiritual or psychological topics, whether it's mindfulness or the human brain. It's an excellent podcast.

What are your favorite TV shows?
You know, I'm sort of a binge-watching type. I just consumed six Mr. Robots the other night. I watched every single episode of Vinyl, even though there were things I didn't like about it. I dipped into the new season of House of Cards even though I didn't finish it. Obviously Game of Thrones is one of my favorite shows. And a lot of documentaries, whether it's 30 for 30 or Making a Murderer or the Robert Durst one. There was a good one about National Lampoon, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead.

You're going to be in a new movie about National Lampoon, right?
Yeah, David Wain is directing it. It's called A Futile and Stupid Gesture. I'm very excited about that. A lot of '70s clothing and textured sport coats. I was never an avid reader of [National Lampoon] magazine, but all the people who came out of there did a ton of great things.

When you're getting ready to shoot a new season of Veep, do you find yourself watching more political coverage on TV?
Of course, it's unavoidable. It definitely permeates my life. But I like to interview real people who work in politics, whether they're press secretaries or assistants to senators. It's more man-on-the-street research.

Considering the craziness of the current election cycle, some of the storylines on Veep are actually beginning to seem less far-fetched. Does that mean you have to up the ante on the show?
We don't rip things from the headlines—there's a conscious attempt to maintain a pristine fiction on the show—but I think that, unconsciously, there might be some momentum from this year that bleeds into the show next season. But it's absolutely true that there are moments in the writers' room when someone pitches an idea and it gets shot down because it's too crazy or too absurd, and then six months later, it actually happens.

This story first appeared in the May 9, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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