Tuesday, July 15, 2014

emmys prep: julia louis-dreyfus

image via

When I meet new people and they ask what I do, they inevitably make either a Mad Men comment or say, "Oh, so you're Elaine!?", neither of which association I mind. But, especially after having read this article, I delight in being (however loosely associated) a twenty-first century Elaine Benes. I've always liked Julia Louis-Dreyfus—chiefly because of her role on the hilarious sitcom, which I came to know through the robust laughter emanating from my dad as he watched in our family's darkened living room late at night. I most admire that she's smart (and don't know why it's surprising whenever I discover someone who stands in front of a camera for a living is so sharp). The actress has maintained—in fact, escalated—her career since Seinfeld fame, an impressive feat after playing such a recognizable, defining role. She's the only actress to win three Emmys for three different comedy series and holds the record for nominations as Best Actress in a Comedy. It's a long article, so if you don't have the time (or stamina) to read it all, here's what stuck with me: JLD's persistent ambition despite already having "made it." An excerpt:

Louis-Dreyfus does not have to work this hard. Thanks to years of very public squabbling among the principals over Seinfeld money, most people have an exalted view of how much she earned from the show, but it did, in fact, make her independently wealthy. And then there's her family's money. The Internet has decided that her father, William Louis-Dreyfus, who works in commodities, is a billionaire. When I bring this up, she says, "He's a very wealthy man, but he's not a billionaire. There are no billions. And I'm not crying poverty or anything—and that's the other problem, because this is a very unsavory subject—but there is a perception out there that I'm, like, a Rothschild or something." She rolls her eyes. "If only." A mordant laugh. "I guess." 

When I met Louis-Dreyfus at The Four Seasons, I explained to her that we were here to look back on the great year she has had. "Oh, I see," she said with a gimlet-eyed smirk. "So we're just resting on our laurels, in other words." Another Louis-Dreyfus gem—the subtle, ironic comeback in the midst of a throwaway moment of small talk—but also perhaps a window into the very particular plight of the wildly successful sitcom star: The money rolls in, while the episodes play over and over. (Including almost every weeknight, at midnight at Channel 11.)

You and I and most people reading this aren't sitting on millions that auto-replenish with every re-run. But we've all achieved varying levels of success that make it easy to slow our speed and stop trying as hard. The conversation between the actress and her interviewer is a gentle nudge to keep on pedaling, and to find something internal that motivates and fulfills (and you can tell by JLD's probing questions about Chelsea Clinton that she is invested in her latest project, the character and the whole Washington machine)—because if the only goal is money, what keeps you going once you've got it?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus knows what's up (and I'm thrilled that there seem to be parts of Elaine alive and well in the talented star). I'm officially carving out time to watch VEEP before next month's Emmy Awards (see the full list of nominees here); in the meantime, tell me: Do you have a TV career twin? What's your favorite Julia Louis-Dreyfus role? Favorite Seinfeld episode? (I thought so.) To wrap up, one of Elaine's finest moments. Have a laugh-your-head-off day.

No comments:

Post a Comment