Anna Chlumsky has been stealing our hearts on HBO’s Veep for some time now. As Vice President Meyer’s (played by Julia Louis Dreyfus) loyal right hand ‘man ‘ Amy, Chlumsky is no doubt a favorite of ours (and she happens to be just as adorable in real life). We got her take on everything from DC style to the funniest thing Julia Louis Dreyfus has ever said to her…
What would be your ideal food day?
A Japanese breakfast: Rice, fish, nori, and some pickles. Love it! Lunch is tomato soup and pâté at some bistro. Then, I skip to Italy for a proper Aperitivo hour of Campari, cheese, olives, etc. Then for dinner, I’m somehow in China – in Chengdu, because Sichuan cuisine is my favorite! Lots of sharing, and lots of flavors. Honestly, any dinner where the food is good and I’m passing it around with good friends, good wine, and good conversation is my ideal anything.
Could you tell us about your first experience here [at Lucien]?
I was hungry at an odd hour – 3ish – with lots of time to kill in the East Village. I needed to sit and hang out somewhere, and I noticed this little bistro I thought would do the trick. I wanted lunch, but they had no lunch menu – just a dinner menu that was a bit dear in price for a young actress. But I was by myself, in the city, Moliére in hand, and it was snowing. So I said, “F*ck it. I’m going to treat myself for no particular reason.” So I ordered the Lapin à la Moutarde [Rabbit with Dijon Mustard], and it was to die for – one of the best dishes I’d ever eaten. I took my time at the restaurant, and while I nursed an after-meal cappuccino, the proprietor came in with the “new Alsace Riesling” for the staff to try. With my nose in my book, my server came by with a glass of that very Riesling and gave it to me on the house. Sharing wine out of the goodness of their hearts? This place was my heaven, and I vowed to come back again and again. That rabbit is as good today as it was that afternoon.
How did you prepare for your role as Amy on Veep?
Lots of elements go into preparing for a character. Especially over time, as I have season after season to learn more and more about her. In the beginning however, the main things I needed to jump in were her job description and day-to-day, provided to me in large part by Laura Schiller, Senator Barbara Boxer’s Chief of Staff. Then I looked at lots of female CEO’s, because in essence a Chief of Staff is the boss of their office. So I figured ‘Amy’ was the CEO of the “Selina Meyer Company.” After making those character choices, the rest is learning my lines, doing my vocal warm-ups, and analyzing the episode scene by scene. I’m a craft-nerd, so those tasks keep me plenty busy and motivated.
What are some pre and post shoot routines?
Pre-shoot is spent securing a sublet in Baltimore and packing up the family for our time down Chesapeake way. Usually, we’ll get a good crab boil in there at the beginning, because they’re out of season soon after we start filming. (Nothing like Old Bay and Natty Boh on top of a newspaper!).
What’s a beauty mainstay/routine you haven’t changed since My Girl?
Brushing my teeth.
A few surprising things we don’t know about your cast members…
Reid Scott is an accomplished director, Matt Walsh was a psychology major, and Tony Hale loves malls.
Funniest thing Julia Louis-Dreyfus has said to you off-screen…
Julia once staged an entire “business phone call” using a banana as her phone. I loved that day.
How do you keep it together on screen? If you do laugh during a scene, what usually sets you off?
If I laugh in a scene, it’s usually Matt Walsh or Tony Hale who is at fault. Then I have to remind myself that my character would not find that particular thing funny.
Characteristics you and Amy share…
We don’t suffer fools easily. We need order. And we look an awful lot alike.
What’s everyone snacking on, on set?
Those nori/seaweed snacks are a pretty big hit. Almonds, apples, and string cheese. And it’s Baltimore, so crab balls are inevitably going to make an appearance on set once or twice.
Are there things you like about “DC style?” What are they?
Not particularly. I mean, it’s nice that pearls are a die-hard. Pearls are nice. Though, I have to say, since Mrs. Obama hit the scene, girls seem to have more licenses to look good and even get creative with their style. I notice a lot more Anthropologie now than I ever did pre-2008.
Words to act by…
Love. Love. Love.
What’s always with you on set?
My scene notebook, a book of crosswords and a pencil, water and coffee.
What are you favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
New York (Duh!). Lucien, Buttermilk Channel, Spicy & Tasty, and Keen’s Steakhouse – just to name a few. In Boston, Flour Bakery, Neptune Oyster, and Sportello. In Kyoto, Nishiki Market, truck stop ramen shops and Ryokan. In Brussels, anywhere. Seriously. Anywhere in that freakin’ city.
If you could host a dinner party with any five people living or dead, who would be there? What would be your quote of the evening?
Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Winston Churchill, Lady Bunny, and my husband. My quote would involve the tale of a hellish cat I had growing up. It’s a hit at parties after too much beer.