My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (2018) s04e06 Episode Script

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

[birds chirping]
[jazz music playing]
-Oh my God. This is weird, man.
-It's very strange. Very strange.
Whose idea was this?
[jazz music continues]
-How many fucking cameras are going?
-Exactly. I was about to say that.
[audience cheering]
[theme music playing]
[birds chirping]
I don't know where to begin exactly.
We don't have to do this,
if you want to cancel.
Now I'm thinking, "Do I get paid?"
-Am I getting paid for this?
-[Letterman laughing]
Top dollar!
[both laughing]
First of all, are you tired
of talking about the wonder
that is Julia Louis-Dreyfus?
Yes, because there's an element of that
that's utter bullshit.
-So the answer is yes.
It's funny you say this
'cause I was just thinking,
-"What the hell am I gonna talk about?"
-What do you want talk about?
-Pick something.
Pick the part that's utter bullshit.
[stammering] What part is utter bullshit?
It would help if you start to sob now.
[both laughing]
-Like an Oprah interview?
[gentle atmospheric music playing]
[Letterman] I'm fascinated
by aspects of your life
I didn't know anything about.
When you were a child,
you had two two separate families.
-Two two separate sets of parents.
Yes, I did.
I really was raised
by my mom and my stepfather,
and then I would visit my dad,
and my stepmom,
and my sisters on that side of the family,
you know, like, once a month.
When you say, "back and forth,"
you'd spend time in Washington.
And then time elsewhere
with your birth father.
Yeah. What I did was, I would take
the Eastern Shuttle and fly.
-How old were you then?
You know, eight, nine.
-Fly on your own?
-I did.
-Wow, that's cool.
The flight was $18.
-[Julia] I remember that.
Anyway, I was definitely
a member of both families,
and thereby, you know
It's a strange thing. You feel like
you're a member of both or none.
I was Anyway, in my own head
Is there any unspoken level of competition
or envy or any of that?
Does that evaporate?
Uh, I don't know if I would say that,
but there was a feeling
that I had, for sure,
to keep everybody, uh
Yeah. You were the liaison
between the two existences.
Yes, exactly.
-And that worked okay?
-[Julia] Uh, you know.
I mean, we could get a therapist to come
and talk to us further about it, but
I go to, uh, a therapist
when, uh, hell is about to explode.
When hell doesn't explode,
I get tired of going to the therapist.
Correct, that's exactly my experience.
And I will tell you this.
I had a therapist not once,
but twice, fall asleep on me.
-And that's humiliating.
I did feel that pressure
to keep them entertained.
-Because once you spill your guts,
you've spilled your guts.
So then I would have to make stuff up.
-Did you?
-"You won't believe what happened now."
-No, you didn't really, did you?
-[Letterman] Why not?
Um, so, I've never met anybody
who's lived in Sri Lanka.
-When I was there, it was Ceylon.
-How long were you there?
-[Julia] About a year.
[Letterman] Why were you in Sri Lanka?
My stepfather worked
for an organization called Project Hope.
Hope, uh, yes.
And it was a medical teaching-ship
that went to third world countries
to help, uh, doctors and nurses and so on
with, uh, medical care,
-and teaching medical care.
And so, we lived there,
we lived in Colombia,
we lived in Tunisia.
So, as a family,
you were able to travel, uh,
with, uh, your other father?
With my stepdad Tom and my mom Judy.
What a rich way to begin life.
Well, it definitely was a rich way
to begin life.
We were living with people
who certainly didn't have
the opportunities that we had,
-and you were keenly aware of that fact.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
-I was, as a child, for sure.
-Oh, yeah.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
What was your mother like? Was she funny?
Yeah. There was a dark,
very black sense of humor
on her side of the family,
and it's, I'm happy to say, uh, sort of
Alive and well.
-Alive and well.
-[laughs] That's delightful.
-Yeah. It's gotten us through a lot.
-That's a lovely thing.
Yeah. Completely.
Here's what I'm just chomping at the bit,
eating my own tongue,
to talk to you about.
-Tell me.
-[Letterman] Um
Is your father, William.
Tell me a little bit about his father,
your grandfather.
My grandfather, uh,
who lived to the age of 103
-[Julia] Yes.
He was a French businessman.
-And to be honest, he was mean as a snake.
What did he do during the war?
He fought for the resistance,
um, and he was part
of the Free French Air Fleet.
How many missions did he fly?
You're gonna know the answer to this,
but I'm gonna say, was it 67?
-That's what I meant to say, was 81.
Oh, I'm sorry, 105.
Fuck you!
-[Julia] Um
And, uh, yeah,
he was a ball turret gunner.
-[Letterman] And mean as a snake?
-Mean as a snake.
Not a great dad, per se, to my father.
-I'm glad he fought
-You know this through your father?
-Oh, of course I do.
-Yeah, yeah.
So anyway, he had my father, who, um, was
an unusual person.
He passed away, uh, five years ago now.
Was there a time
where you got closer to him,
or do you always maintain
a closeness with the man?
I was always kind of yearning
to be close to him, shall we say.
Um, uh, and, uh,
he was a really complicated guy,
uh, and, um, I really loved him dearly.
As he got towards the end of his life,
I think, I got closer to him.
I helped to take care of him a lot,
and that was helpful.
[Letterman] So you have this,
what I feel like
is an enviable upbringing,
all things considered.
Now, at the time, it may have been
not enviable, traumatic,
but does any of that apply
to the family that you raised with Brad?
Oh, it all applies.
I mean, um, you know,
it was not easy having two families,
even with the best of intentions.
Uh, but it was not an easy thing
to go back and forth.
So it was very important to me
to have a very stable home.
[gentle atmospheric music playing]
[Letterman] Your boys, what are they like?
How are they perceived in the world
for people who know you're their mother?
Um, they're correctly not that impressed
with what it is that I do.
I mean, not that they're ashamed of it,
but they're not, you know,
like, "Oh, my mother!"
-That's not where they live at all.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
Is it surprising to you that they're both
now in the world of show business?
Any indication early on
that it might happen?
With our older son, yes,
because he was a musician,
and he's been playing music
ever since he was teeny tiny.
-[Letterman] This is Henry?
-[Julia] This is our son Henry.
Our younger son was, really,
just absolutely basketball all the time.
-[Letterman] Charlie?
-[Julia] Charlie, yeah.
And so But then,
he's come into the acting thing.
-Now they're both these creative people.
With both kids, now,
I very often will help them
-if they have an audition.
I'll read with them.
Everybody's doing these,
what they call "self-tapes" now.
So you set up the iPhone
and then you do the lines.
So I'm, most of the time,
the person on the other side
reading the other lines.
-This serves as an audition?
-Yeah, that's how they audition now.
-[Letterman] Wow.
-Yeah, I know.
I do this a lot with the kids,
and I love it. It's actually fun.
[jazz piano playing]
-[Julia] My dog, George.
-[Letterman] What a sweetie.
-You're a dog lover?
-I love doggies.
Georgie, I'm gonna throw this for you.
Are you a good thrower?
-I wanna see you throw.
-I'm a bad thrower.
-Then I'll throw.
-Oh, yeah. Throw it in the water.
-What if he doesn't come back?
-He'll come back. Watch.
-Later, will you throw one to me?
-[Julia] Yeah, I will.
-Yes, sir.
-[Julia chuckles]
Somebody call PETA!
He's tormenting the dog.
All right, George. This is it, buddy.
[breezy jazz music playing]
-[Julia] George, come on!
-[Letterman] Buddy! [laughs]
-Oh, no.
-Oh! Georgie, go get it.
[both] Go get the stick.
-[Letterman] Come on, buddy!
-[Julia] You got it!
-[Letterman] Oh! Yes!
-[Julia] Nice!
What a good boy.
Wait a minute. What happened? [laughs]
I know! What happened to him?
He looks like a dachshund.
This dog has lost a huge amount
of weight since he's been out here.
[both laughing]
-Seems like it's time for a check-up.
-Poor darling. Poor darling.
Is that a flame I'm seeing?
-Yeah, it's an oil derrick.
-Are those still active?
All of these are in the process of being
decommissioned, which is a good thing.
And that's due to the efforts
of Heal the Ocean
and the Environmental Defense Center.
You want to know a funny story?
One time, I took my son,
we went fishing out here on a boat.
And we were all
And these are far out, you know?
And, uh, we didn't have any luck
fishing that day, like none.
[laughs] And
Uh, however, the boat went by
one of the oil derricks.
There's a guy up there,
waving his arms like this.
We go up, and all of a sudden,
he lowers a bucket down.
-And there are M&Ms in there.
It was an incredible day!
We didn't catch a single fish,
but we got M&Ms.
I'm starting to look
at offshore oil drilling
in a whole different light,
if there's snacks involved.
-Yeah, I know.
-Tasty candy snacks.
-Wait a minute. Let's reconsider this.
-I know. I know.
[Letterman] You were in school
in the Chicago area.
[Julia] Yes.
You know, I went to Northwestern
to study theater,
and drama and comedy, all of the above.
But the comedy thing, that's, you know
I've gotten more jobs in that department.
In your time there, was, uh
Who were What was the main group
of improvisational
-Was it Second City then?
-Second City was there.
I was in Second City for a period of time
when I was there. Um
Practical Theater Company,
which was my friend's,
and then boyfriend, and now husband's
[chuckles] theater company was there.
-Steppenwolf, Remains.
That was all happening.
It was really exciting.
Yeah. Now, before you get there,
you're watching television,
you go to movies and stuff,
what sticks with you?
Who sticks with you in that era?
-Growing up?
-Yeah, growing up.
You think, "Oh, this person is funny,
that person is funny."
"You know, maybe this is a path
I can follow."
Well, let's see. I was just talking
the other day with somebody about
-Carroll O'Connor and All in the Family.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
[Julia] Wow, you know?
That's a performance.
And, you know, the obvious.
-Like, of course, Mary Tyler Moore.
And then, when I was in high school,
I watched Saturday Night Live.
Um, I was sort of the audience
for the initial cast
of Saturday Night Live.
So, then years later, when I got cast,
it was like, "What the hell?"
[Letterman] Now, when you went
to, uh, Brad's organization,
the Political Happiness Brigade.
What was it called?
-What the hell are you talking about?
-The group in Chicago, what was it called?
-Oh, Practical Theater Company?
-Yeah. Practical Theater Company.
-Happiness Brigade.
"Political Happiness Brigade."
-I will be co-opting that.
[Letterman] Um
Were you one of several women?
I was the only woman at that time.
So now, why did that happen,
and why did it keep happening?
I think that in the last
Hmm, I'm gonna say maybe in the last,
what do you think, 20 years?
I think the roles for women,
specifically, in comedy
and on television,
have have widened.
-[Julia] I don't know.
I'm not enough of a scholar
to to guess as to why,
although I do think that Tina Fey
and Poehler and Maya and Kristen,
I think that had
They were very, very powerful
as people on SNL.
-[Julia] I think that had a
uh, I don't know
if you'd say a trickle effect,
but it's had impact.
So when you're beginning with the, uh
-[Julia] What?
The Political Happiness Brigade?
-[laughing] Yes. Did
Did you have anyone
How do you advocate for yourself?
First of all, was it a problem?
Did you recognize it
as a problem immediately?
-A problem? No, I
-Did you feel overlooked?
I've always felt, and I still feel
to this day to a certain extent,
that I have to push to be heard.
[Letterman] Yeah.
And that may just be
a hangover from those days,
-but I can't shake that completely.
You know, I went
to an all-girls school, high school.
I went there way too long. But, um
Wait a minute. What does that mean?
I was there for ten years.
Third through 12th grade, all girls.
I thought you were too long
in high school.
In high school for ten years.
But I will say that the
there was a benefit
to being at an all-girls school
because there were certain roles
you could take on,
like of leadership and stuff like that,
that were, I think, to me,
kind of, uh, informative.
It provided me with a confidence
that maybe I might not have had otherwise.
All-girls school, now you get
into the the improv company
-that we so dearly love these days.
-[Julia] Yes.
And you're in an all-male organization.
-[Julia] Yes.
Transaction, traumatic, reactionary?
-You just
-Heaven! All these boys everywhere.
-Yeah. Yeah.
I like boys.
-I do.
-All right, fine.
It was really It was not
I wasn't thinking about gender that much,
-to tell you the truth.
When I went to Northwestern,
I got cast for my freshman year,
in a show called The Mee-Ow Show.
And it really kind of changed my life.
[both] My doctor Pinocchio!
[speaking indistinctly]
[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
[Julia] And the experience of being
in a show that was very irreverent,
that we are creating our own material,
that we are all working together,
it had this "inmates running the asylum"
kind of feeling to it.
-It was very freeing and exciting.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
So you get an impression
of the way things can work
-for you.
And then you go to Saturday Night Live,
and maybe not the freedom
you were hoping for.
[Julia] It wasn't the same thing.
But you have to understand,
I was 21 when I went there. So, I was
That was a while ago now,
and I was really naive.
I didn't understand
how the business worked
Oh, it's because
I've got eyebrows on my back.
No, it's not that, I swear.
I've got fingers for toes on my feet.
You hate that, don't you?
-It doesn't bother me
-It's my triple nipples?
You don't like my triple nipples?
How did this happen?
Somebody comes to see you in Chicago.
-Yeah, it was bizarre.
-You left Northwestern then?
I was still at Northwestern,
I was in my junior year,
and we were doing a show
with the Practical Theater Company
that was a big hit, uh, in Chicago.
And the producers of SNL,
unbeknownst to us, were in the audience.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
-They came backstage afterwards,
and they said, "You kids want to go
to New York?" I mean, it was
-This is a Mickey Rooney movie, isn't it?
-[Julia] Totally!
Except in the moment, it was like,
"Yeah! I'm dropping out of school,
going to New York, gonna be on SNL."
People say, and books have been written,
that it is a pressure cooker.
What was it for you?
A pressure cooker.
I had no idea how to succeed.
I didn't come there with a bunch
of characters that I could do.
And I figured that, you know,
"They have all these great writers."
"They'll just write sketches,
we'll do the sketches,
it'll be so much fun."
-It wasn't quite like that.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
Um, it was very, very competitive,
very dog-eat-dog.
And, uh
-I had to learn that very quickly.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
-But it was a good learning experience.
-Drugs, were they a factor?
Was it different in Chicago
than it was in New York?
The drugs were so intense.
And And I was so stupid,
I didn't realize how
When the sketches came in,
and, you know,
a typical sketch, you know, page count
is maybe four, five pages.
And a sketch would come in
and it would be like 18, 19, 20 pages.
And the writers who write it
are laughing like
[laughing aggressively]
[Letterman laughs]
'Cause they're still wasted
from the night before.
-It was one of those kind of things.
-Oh my God. And this was
All of this was new to you?
You had not experienced this
to that level, if it all?
-Not to that level.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
Who else was with you
at Saturday Night Live then?
Um, Eddie Murphy.
[sighs] Oh, man.
-Now, what does that do? You walk in
Of course, he wasn't
really Eddie Murphy then.
[Julia] He became Eddie Murphy
during that time.
-[Letterman] Oh, yeah.
-[Julia] Yeah.
Tim Kazurinsky, Joe Piscopo,
Mary Gross, Robin Duke,
Gary Kroeger, Brad Hall,
that was initially.
And then, uh, it was Chris Guest
and Billy Crystal and those guys,
and Marty Short came on board.
Larry David was there my third year.
And he was miserable, and I was miserable.
-You guys had never met before?
-Nuh-uh. No, we had never met.
But we glommed on to one another
because we kept getting shafted.
-And, uh
-"Shafted" meaning
they're not taking your material,
not casting you?
Material, not putting you in anything,
blah, blah, blah.
Was he well-liked? Was Did people
Or was he irritable and unhappy and
Well, he was definitely unhappy,
but in a in a funny kind of way.
When you think about the people
that came through that show,
and were successful via that show,
and went on to be great successes
away from that show,
there's an equal number of people
who weren't successful on that show
and grew to be even bigger successes.
Yeah, yeah.
What kind of stuff did you end up doing
the first year or two?
"More tea, Gumby?"
-That kind of thing.
That was what I did.
"More tea, Gumby?"
[both laughing]
Well, now we're talking.
I did not ask to participate
in this baroque American festival
of overconsumption. I mean
I went back to host the show
many years later,
and it was a pretty remarkable experience
because I came away from the show
having certain information
about maybe how to do it
if I were to do it again,
so I was able to go back in
and and apply that.
-Exert that.
And that was kind of, like
sort of dreamy.
-You were there three seasons?
-I was indeed, yeah.
Did you feel like your departure
made this a failure for you?
Was it a setback emotionally?
I mean, I would say the experience
-was not an uplifting one.
But, uh, no I
-I just moved on.
I didn't get fired. I was sort of, uh
Ebersol and company left.
Lorne came in and they cleaned house.
There was administrative upheaval
in that period of time.
There sure was, yeah.
Because when Lorne left initially,
uh, I was lucky enough
to inherit many of their writers.
Oh, I see.
So you're the reason the show struggled.
-Pretty much, yeah. That's me.
-Got it.
-That's the power I'm sitting on.
-[Julia] Got it.
[Letterman] You came to California.
After a year of living in New York,
not getting cast in anything.
So you were trying to work in New York?
-Trying to.
-What kind of stuff?
I was out there auditioning
for everything, for real.
And then I came out to LA.
Back then, you'd come out
for what's called "pilot season."
Did you get on anything
when you were out here?
-Yeah, I did.
-In the pilots?
I got a pilot
called The Art of Being Nick.
-The Art of Being Nick.
-Yes, it was a spin-off of Family Ties.
-It did not get picked up.
-Was Brad out here then also?
-He came out?
We were living together,
and then we got married in, uh, 1987.
We got married here in Santa Barbara.
He was born and raised here.
Things started to happen.
I did a series for a couple of years.
What was the series?
It's called Day By Day.
-I don't know this.
-[Julia] It's fine.
I was the snarky neighbor.
and I got to come in and be snarky
and then leave, that kind of a thing.
When did Seinfeld begin?
When did that all happen?
That happened in 1989.
They did the pilot, I wasn't in the pilot,
and then, uh
-and then they ordered four shows.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
One of the notes was,
"You should have a woman in this cast"?
-Yeah, "you need a woman in the show."
-[Letterman] Yeah.
And, uh, the show was,
"We don't know, we don't know." And
They got a note it was too Jewish,
if you don't mind my saying.
-Too Jewish?
-[Julia] Too Jewish.
-[Julia stammering]
-I mean, too many scenes in the synagogue?
What does that mean?
-A good question, isn't it?
-[Letterman] Yeah.
-You could unpack that for quite a while.
-[Letterman chuckles]
-You go in, and, uh, there's your buddy
-[Letterman] Yeah.
-[Julia] Yeah, Lar and Jer.
[Letterman] Did you know anything
about Jerry?
Not really. I don't really follow
the stand-up world.
So I kind of recognized him maybe
from seeing him I don't know. But I
-That's great, I love that.
-No, no, no. I mean, it's true.
You'd recognize him today, right?
I think I might.
Again, I have a bad memory.
Has he ever been out here?
Uh, no, not here here.
Oh, how about that?
-I'm starting to feel better about myself.
-I wouldn't live there for too long.
-No, I I can't possibly.
-You faked with me?
-You faked it?
-I faked it.
That whole thing,
the whole production was all an act?
[clicks tongue] Not bad, huh?
[audience laughter]
[Letterman] So what is
that workplace experience like now?
You know, it was so fantastic.
From the beginning?
Yes. And I remember thinking,
when we made those first four episodes,
"This show is so different and so weird,"
'cause it was.
It did not resemble tonally,
even story-wise,
anything that was
on network television at the time.
And I remember thinking,
"They're too stupid to pick this up."
-Mm. Mm-hmm.
-"They won't understand how good this is."
-Uh, and then they did.
Tell me about your relationship
with Jerry.
I know this sounds corny,
but doing theater, kind of,
when I was back at Northwestern,
or working in Chicago theater,
and you had this feeling like
the kids were in charge.
-That's what it felt like on set
with these guys and with Jer.
And it was
it was a lot of goofing around.
-It was also a lot of hard work.
But there was an element
of goofiness, of play,
that I think really helped, uh
helped to infuse
the culture of the show itself.
So it infused the culture of the show,
but the culture more broadly.
-It became a fabric of the culture.
-Yeah. Yeah.
But so, did you and Jerry
get to be friends?
-Totally. Absolutely. Yeah.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
I mean, we were really good friends,
and and still are.
-I mean, I love those guys. Yeah.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
Do you, uh, watch the show now?
-I don't.
-Why don't you watch it now?
Just because you've seen it?
You've lived it?
It's sort of like looking
at your high school yearbook.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
-It's like
I I respond immediately
to what I should have done better.
-[Letterman] Oh, yeah.
I can't look at anything
because it's just like,
first of all, "Where's the guy
that's supposed to be on the show?"
That's That's number one.
-And then, "Oh, Christ!"
And then I I leave.
But can you
Can you, uh, look
at what you do at all? Briefly?
-No. No.
-Oh, see, I can. That I can do.
But I don't go back
and watch these things over and
-I don't.
-That would be a little crazy.
-I just wonder because it's omnipresent.
-I know.
-And continues to be omnipresent.
-I know.
What about the kids, the boys?
They watched it
when it was originally on, right?
-No, they were too young.
-[Letterman] Ah.
So But they've watched it after the fact.
I remember once,
Henry, our older son, was watching it,
and I came in and
First of all, I got sucked into it
'cause he was howling laughing.
-Then I started laughing, which is fun.
But what was amazing, I couldn't remember
what happened in the story.
So I sat there,
and then I think it turned out to be the
It might have even been
"The Contest" episode.
Anyway, I left because it was
inappropriate for me to be watching that
-with my then-16-year-old boy.
Now, the last time
you and I saw one another
was on I think it was my last show.
-Yes, I was so happy to be there!
-Yeah, you were delightful.
And your line had something to do
with, uh, the last episode of Seinfeld.
And, uh, then there was a shot
of Jerry pretending to be perturbed.
-Offended, yeah.
The category, "Top Ten Things
I've Always Wanted to Say to Dave."
Thanks for letting me take part
in another hugely disappointing
series finale.
-[surprised reactions]
[laughter and applause]
What about the the last episode
of Seinfeld was it that
Were people
I mean, was it a What was it?
I think there was a lot of pressure
and expectation for that last episode.
The problem with things like this,
uh, it just
there's no winning, you know?
It's It's been such an enormous,
overwhelming event.
-Do what you can, people are still
-Yeah, you do what you can.
I mean, not every single episode
of Seinfeld was stellar, necessarily.
And maybe this one was a little less.
I think they wanted us to do more.
Yeah, but I
Yeah, perhaps that's the expectation,
but unrealistic.
Because, you know, like I've said before,
the show speaks for itself.
"Here we go, this is our last one,
goodnight, and leave us alone now."
-You know? We all had a good time of it.
-Yeah. Totally.
Yeah, right.
Anyway, I I
I loved making it. [chuckles]
Aren't you sick of people like me
talking to you about this?
-I'm a little sick of it.
-Let's talk about something else.
I'm not really sick of it, of course.
But I think that the show has become
so much more popular now that it's
once it stopped.
Not that it was unpopular prior to that,
but it's taken on a kind
-There's a kind of a romance and a
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
a lore to it now.
That speaks to the quality of the effort,
because if it was only tied
to a certain generation
or a certain time in the world,
-it would be gone.
-[Letterman] But it lives on. Yeah, so
-It was a very well-written show.
Is anything comparable to it
on television?
You mean, in terms of success?
Longevity and quality
and loyalty and dedication.
I mean, you know,
you got your Lucy and Dick Van Dyke.
The Lucy thing was so early in television
that it was kind of a
like a stand-alone, one-off almost.
How many seasons did they do of that?
A hundred and six.
Come on, man.
-How many seasons?
-I don't know.
Don't you have this at your fingertips?
-Do I look like the kind of guy
-You certainly do not.
-[Letterman laughs]
[Julia laughs]
[jazz music playing]
[Julia] Do you scuba dive ever?
Well, I have once
in a hotel in New Jersey.
It's a true story.
-No, you didn't!
-Not suitable for this, but yes.
But do you do that?
No, I'm terrified of scuba diving.
I went once.
All I saw was the ass of my instructor
because I wouldn't take my eyes
off of him, I was so terrified.
Anyway, let's fish.
[jazz music continues]
-Hi, Joseph. Nice to see you, Joseph.
-Dave. Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
What are we doing here, surfcasting?
-Surfcasting, surfperch.
-[Julia] I'm not gonna be good at this.
-[Joseph] You'll be fine.
-[Julia] I don't think so.
So we have a couple of rods set up.
-[Joseph] Let's do some
-Somebody better catch something.
-[Julia] It's not gonna be me.
-[Joseph] Come on here.
-[Julia] Now, what do I do?
Action is just very short, like this.
-[Julia] I hold it like that?
-[Joseph] Yes.
[Julia] So you're saying, bum, bum
-[Joseph] Yes.
-Bum, bum.
Oh, my lip!
-Shut up.
-[Letterman laughing]
What are you laughing about?
[laughing] Nothing. I'm not I'm sorry.
No! You're laughing
at how bad I'm doing it?
No, no, I'm just laughing at the event.
That's all.
-It is crazy.
-I mean, here we are
-[Joseph chuckles]
-but should we have come?
-[Julia] I'm not doing it right.
-Just a shorter little window up here.
-[Julia] Oh, okay.
-Stop. Stop. That's it.
Stop. Look at that. Perfect.
[Julia] It's perfect, Dave!
-Dave, it's perfect!
-All right, let's go home.
Is the show done?
[Letterman and Joseph laugh]
-I don't really see how fish would
-We'll take this footage.
-be interested in what I'm doing.
-Put some music under it.
[jazz music continues]
Do you mind if I do a selfie with you?
Could you get off my line?
What a game show that was.
[jazz outro plays]
-[Letterman laughs]
-I don't know what I'm doing.
Where's my teacher?
[whimsical jazz playing]
Does this look
even remotely correct to you?
-Yeah, that's it. Now you're fishing.
-[Julia] Is that it?
-[Joseph laughs] "Fishing-ish."
-[Julia] Did you catch anything?
-[Letterman] No.
Look at what he does.
This is unbelievable.
[Julia] We should just watch him do it.
-[Joseph laughs]
-No, for real, Joe.
-Could you catch something right now?
-I could, yeah.
-He's gonna catch something for us.
-That's all we can hope for, honestly.
I mean, you are our only hope, Joe.
We didn't catch anything.
We're gonna go hungry at dinner.
I know.
-Thanks, Joe.
-[Joseph] Yes, sir.
[Julia] I caught seaweed, you guys!
[Letterman] Some time goes by,
you do a few other things,
and then onward to Veep.
Now, that was a treasure, that show.
Honest to God,
if I had been a part of Veep,
if I had done anything with that show
-[Julia] Yeah.
I would leave the paperwork
to have that on my grave marker,
and I'd go away.
[speaking gibberish]
-I don't even know what you just said.
What are you laughing about,
jolly green jizz-face?
Because it was "pre-scient."
Is that the word?
Uh, and it coincided,
it started to overlap
I know. And then they overtook us.
Did this happen because the people
that created it and produced it
could see something happening?
Or was it just dumb luck?
-No, that was that was dumb luck.
-[Letterman] Dumb luck.
-So in the world of Veep
-[Julia] Yeah.
how did that come to you?
It came to me, believe it or not,
through my agent,
who heard that they were developing
this show at HBO
-about an unhappy female vice president.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
And I heard that, and I was like,
"I have got to find out more
-about this project."
Because it really did feel,
just the notion of it
felt like low-hanging fruit
-that no one had ever thought to pick.
-[Letterman] That's right.
That's right. And at a certain time
in the US political spectrum,
seemed to be so far-fetched.
-Totally. Totally.
-Yeah. Yeah.
Do they say, "Look, we're doing this show,
and you're going to be"
What happened was, it hadn't been written,
and I met with Armando Iannucci,
-who was the creator.
And we were meant to meet
for, like, 45 minutes,
and it turned into a three-hour meeting,
talking about politics, and culture,
and the human beings
within the political world,
and how they behav
behavior and stuff like that.
Anyways, fantastic.
-The cast is just delightful.
-[Julia] I know.
-There's not a weak link in it.
-Not a single
Somebody walks into a scene,
"Oh, thank God."
Somebody else walks into a scene,
-"Oh, thank God."
And the relationship with Gary.
Uh, what is that?
Tony Hale is the most wonderful
human being you'll ever want to meet.
And he and I were in lockstep
from the get-go.
Hello? Yes. Hi, Mr. President.
-FYI, ma'am, the President's not calling.
-FYI, Gary, no shit.
You know, it was a dance that we did. And
I think of him
as one of my best friends to this day.
The swearing
and the colorful language, again,
uh, not fabricated.
It just seemed of the person.
Right, but it was
it was also very written,
and, uh, written well, and, uh
[deep breath]
And it was, you know
it was like curlicues of swear words,
you know?
-It was like doilies of curses everywhere.
But written so well
that there was no contrivance.
-[Julia] Mm. Mm.
-[Letterman] Know what I mean?
-Yeah, it had an authenticity, I think.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
Just delightful.
Yeah, it was tapping
into the just normal human behaviors
of people seeking power,
or having power, or losing power.
And, you know, to a certain extent,
I guess it was a workplace comedy.
Yeah. Exactly.
And just at the bottom of it,
just a furnace of ego, for God's sake.
-Totally, 100%.
-[Letterman laughs]
And I will say that one thing
that I'm very proud of
-about the show is
-[bird calls]
-Oh, did you hear that?
That was a hawk.
-Oh, God.
-Yeah, it's coming for you.
Gotta look out for my toupee.
And [laughs]
-I love a toupee joke.
You do your best,
you try to serve the people,
-then they just fuck you over.
And you know why?
Because they're ignorant,
and they're dumb as shit.
And that, ladies and gentlemen,
is democracy.
-God damn it!
The script, and the writing,
and the contents, the context
was like a well-fitting suit,
for God's sake.
I know. I'm not gonna lie,
I really miss it.
I really miss it.
There was a circumstance,
um, that changed the, uh
the way the last part of the show,
the last season of the show, was,
uh, produced.
It was sort of ready to go
in one direction,
and then you got a diagnosis.
Oh, yeah, and then I got cancer.
Yeah. That sucked.
So, um, that was shocking.
So we stopped and we took a break.
You know, I get upset
if the dentist calls and says
"You gotta have a tooth filled."
-How was this presented to you?
Well, it was out of the blue, man.
It was completely out of the blue
that I got this diagnosis.
And it happened, believe it or not,
it happened
on the heels of winning an an Emmy.
-I mean
-Within a day or so.
Within ten hours.
-Ten hours?
-Yeah. So I very happily won that night.
And then the next morning,
the phone rang saying, you know,
"You've got"
"I've got bad news. You have cancer."
Not that it's funny,
but it is funny, juxtaposition-wise.
I mean, it's kind of unbelievable.
And, um [clears throat]
I did start sort of laughing hysterically
like a crazy person.
But, um And then it morphed
into something else, of course.
But yeah, it was, um It was
You just simply don't expect
that kind of thing to happen to you.
I know you've had a health scare,
and when that happens, you don't, um
You're like, "Wait a minute. Me?
No, no, that happens to other people."
It seems to me like this diagnosis, sadly,
is so commonplace.
Yes. Uh, breast cancer is very common.
Something that one in eight women
can expect to
Yeah, how bizarre. I mean, what?
So how do you deal with
See, if it were me,
I'd be thinking, "Holy fuck."
"Am I gonna be here Labor Day?"
That's what I'd think.
Well, I didn't go there very much,
to that place.
What I did was I liken it to this.
A long time ago,
my husband and I were, um, in the ocean.
And I was swimming.
We were doing this thing
that had to do with studying dolphins.
It was really cool.
All of a sudden,
Brad came to the bow of the boat.
And he said, "Jules." I was far away.
He goes, "I don't want you to panic."
"But there's a shark in the water.
Come back to the boat."
And I remember very vividly
[clears throat]
there was a ladder,
and I was just hell-bent on that ladder,
and getting to the ladder,
and I was focused on the ladder.
And I didn't look around me or anything.
I was just, "I'm getting to the ladder."
That's what this experience
-was exactly like for me.
-[Letterman] Mm-hmm.
Maybe almost to a fault,
because there's a level of denial
that's going on in that circumstance,
but it was the only way
I knew how to get through.
And it was just, "Get to the
Get to the fucking ladder
-and get out of this water."
And that's what I did.
Uh, that's how I did it. And it
And it was weird
because, you know, I was public about it,
but not by choice.
Well, yes, by choice,
but kind of also not,
because I would never
have gone public with this.
I would have kept it entirely private,
but because we were in production,
I had no choice
but to go out there with it.
And then it turned out to be kind of
a good thing
that I had done that, ultimately.
But I did have this feeling
in the beginning, like,
"Oh, okay, so I'm gonna have chemotherapy,
and then the week after,
we'll shoot an episode."
-That's what I was thinking, initially.
-But it was not possible.
-[Letterman] Didn't work that way.
How long was it before you could
go back to participate in the production?
Was a year. Yeah.
The people must have been so happy
to have you back in the production.
-Your cast and crew.
That must have been heartwarming
and uplifting.
Oh, it was so incredible to go back.
Oh my God,
I was thinking about it all the time.
I couldn't wait to get back
to this normalcy.
-Yeah, yeah.
-And this
this pursuit
of making something good as a group
is just the most elevated
of experiences, you know?
Was anything anybody could say to you,
other than medical people,
of use, of meaning to you?
Is it annoying
to have people on you on this topic?
[inhales deeply]
Well, when I was ill,
it was just very nice to have people,
um, in my experience,
everybody has different experiences,
but just to have people around
who were just just around.
[Letterman] Right, around.
Because I like to make everything about me
whenever anybody's in trouble,
I always put it, "I can do anything
big or small. Let me do anything."
'Cause I know if I can help,
I'll feel better about me.
-[Julia] Yes, of course.
-But that
-That's not always well-received, is it?
-I think
I think, well, when people say,
"How can I help? What can I do?"
-There's a burdensomeness to that.
Yeah. Yeah.
I don't know what to tell you
to help me with.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
-I'm sick.
-That's right.
-Um, "Make me lasagna."
-You know, I don't know.
Wow. Yeah.
Uh, I could go for lasagna right now.
I know, I'm kind of
a little peckish myself.
Have you won Emmys
for every show you've been on?
Uh [stammers]
For the three big shows I've been on.
-Seinfeld, the amazing
-Old Christine and Veep.
-[Letterman] Then Veep.
What's the total number there?
[Julia] Eleven, I think.
-Pretty good.
-Yeah, it's not bad.
-How many have you won?
-[inhales deeply]
-Oh, geez, about 105.
-[Julia laughing]
[Letterman laughs]
I don't know.
Same number of seasons as Lucy.
-[laughs] Yeah.
-Got it, yeah.
-That's why it's easy to remember.
-Yeah, of course.
I want to get to this in a meaningful way.
-All right.
-[Letterman] Uh
What's a perfect day for you?
Now, this is a real interview,
talk show, dumb-bell question.
What's a perfect day?
A perfect day, let's just say, starts
with a very good night's sleep before.
I mean, I don't know.
What's your perfect day?
You mention a good night's sleep,
and thanks to the friendly folks
at Pfizer, I get a good night's sleep.
[both laughing]
So that's not an issue. [chuckles]
So, uh, getting back to your father,
William, he collected art.
To tell you the truth,
I didn't really have any idea
of the level of his involvement
in the world of art as it was happening.
It was only
towards the end of his life, um,
that I began to understand the
first of all, the voluminous collection.
Essentially, three thousand pieces of art,
-I was under the impression.
-Was a number, could be off by a thousand.
-Even more than that.
And, um And he did something
really remarkable,
which is, and he's put the bulk
of those pieces in a foundation.
The Harlem Children's Zone.
-And he's, uh, unpresupposing.
-Yes, he wasn't fancy.
No, yet he has something
It's not an eye for art
so much as it is a heart for art.
-I was so touched by this.
And And your relationship with him.
Uh, and and
This must, now, speaking of DNA,
be a part of you.
You You are in this direction.
You want You want to help politically,
you want to help, uh, in every means.
[Julia] If I can, yeah.
This is something
that my father left behind
-that I'm very proud of.
Maybe sometime you could come and see the
you could come to that space and see
that work if you ever wanted to. For real.
I'd love to.
I assume it's all inventoried, right?
Well, we have somebody
walk through with you.
Oh. Yeah.
And yes, it's inventoried, and you'll have
to leave your bag at the door.
-[Julia] If that's your question.
Okay, no, we'll work something out.
You got anything else?
For you to steal?
No, no.
[laughing] Well, yes,
if we're getting down to it.
Guess the movie and the actor.
-All right?
-[Julia] Sure.
-[Letterman] Ready?
-You can work together as a team.
-Okay. Are you watching, Joe?
Movie and the actor,
goes something like this.
Get in here, Joe.
Was that the impression?
This is the hat and me.
The movie and the actor?
Who does it remind you of?
Are you Tom Hanks?
-Are you
-I'm no longer living.
Are you John Wayne?
Is it Are you Is the impression
-It's entirely visual.
-It's a visual. Oh, I see!
Thanks to the hat and the beard.
-I don't know who you are, man.
-I don't know who you are, man.
Old Man and The Sea.
-[Joseph] Oh, uh
You're, um, what's-his-face.
-[Letterman laughs]
-Yeah, that guy.
-[Letterman laughs]
-[chuckles] I remember.
Who is Old Man and the Sea?
-It wasn't Spencer Tracy?
-[both] Yes!
-[Joseph] That's who it was.
-[Letterman] Oh!
-Oh, I won! Joe, I won!
-[Joseph laughing]
-It's exciting, isn't it?
-Nice going, bud.
-Spencer Tracy.
-That's the most fun I've had in years.
[jazz music playing]
[Letterman] I'll tell you, Julia,
once I start fishing,
I'm done talking to you.
I have no problem with that
'cause I'm already done talking to you.
[Letterman laughing]
[jazz music playing]
Oh, look at David go.
I thought he's supposed to be
interviewing me.
-What bullshit is this?
I'm gonna go fish
on the other beach by myself.
How about that idea? Look at him.
[Julia] Whose fucking idea was this?
The only reason he wanted
to interview me for this fucking show
was so he could go fishing.
That's hilarious.
When I do these things, I fall in love
with the person I'm talking to.
-And And I was talking to Kevin Durant.
And I said to him, "I really love you,
and I want to be friends with you now."
Then later, I thought,
"Holy shit, what has happened?"
I'm a Scientologist or something.
I don't know what's going on here.
So I thought, I said, "We'll be friends,
right, after this is over?"
[mumbles] "Yeah, yeah."
-So now, I think, "Holy crap."
"I gotta be Kevin Durant's friend."
So, uh, I see the Brooklyn Nets
are playing the Milwaukee Bucks.
So I text him. "Good luck,
have fun, your friend Dave."
And, uh, after the game, I get back,
"Thanks, brother."
So, we're best friends.
That's hilarious. You're a real schmoozer.
[laughing] Yeah. It just
I turn into a complete dope.
Not "turn into," I just
-No, you are a dope.
-I am a dope, yes.
-I get that. But you're a lovable dope.
Now let's don't even start that.
-Well, Julia.
-Thank you, goodbye!
-It's that It's that time, again.
-Thank you, and goodbye.
Thank you, Dave Letterman, goodbye to you.
-Thank you.
-Get the hell off my property.
-[Julia laughs]
[jazz music playing]
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