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June 17, 2013 11:30AM EST

Q&A with Armando Iannucci

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  • Q

    Thank you for joining us, Armando Iannucci. Any opening words for your fans?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    Hello, all. Hope you weren't too shocked by the amount of blood in last night's episode.

  • Q

    do you have a writing process? does it differ largely when writing alone or collaboratively? do you prefer working alone or collaboratively?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    I prefer working collaboratively because I hate working alone. When I'm alone, I tend to tidy the room, watch YouTube and I mean all of it, and to do just about anything to avoid writing. But collaboration also helps in the process of writing naturalistic dialogue.

  • Q

    How do you feel about the humor in Veep? Is Veep's humor limited to the USA or will it make people across the globe laugh as well?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    I never really think of it in terms of country. All of the writers are actually based with me in the UK. Obviously, we work very closely with the cast and a team of accuracy in Washington. I think the experiences in Veep would be familiar to everyone. Even though she's the vice president, I think other people can relate in their own jobs.

  • Q

    Will we ever find out what was in Selina's garbage bag in episode 7, or is it better left to the audience's imagination?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    I would prefer everyone to have their own theory of what's in the bag. Maybe we should collect some of those theories and post the ten best ones.

  • Q

    If you were given the chance to swap bodies with someone, but it had to be someone shorter than you, would you do it, and who would it be?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    There aren't many people shorter than me. My great comedy here is Woody Allen, and he's shorter than me. I recently had a chance to meet with him when he was filming Midnight in Paris and we got to talking film. If I could be Woody Allen for a day, I would happily do that.

  • Q

    Will we get to see any of the Veep regular cast guest star on an Alan Partridge program? When is the Alan Partridge movie coming to the US?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    There are no plans at the moment, but you never know. Sally Phillips from I'm Alan Partridge made an appearance in Veep as the prime minister of Finland, so the bridge is always there to be crossed.

  • Q

    How did you and the other writers came up with the parody song arc? It was one of the funniest things the show has ever done.

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    Well, I suppose we saw footage of the likes of Obama and other politicians trying to be funny, and we always felt politicians trying to be funny was amusing to watch. We pictured Julia doing it the way it would go down well in Washington, but wouldn't be the most professional thing you've ever seen. Later, we noticed the song could be offensive to half of Europe, which gave us the idea for the next episode.

  • Q

    Do you have any favorite Veep episodes or scenes?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    I was particularly fond of the hotel scene from last night's episode, where Selina is slightly confused because of her medication. There was a hysterical mood in the room. It was late in the evening, and everyone found it hard to keep a straight face during that scene.

  • Q

    what's it like growing up italian in scotland?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    Well, you feel like kind of an outsider on two levels, because when you're at very Italian things, like an Italian wedding, you feel a little peculiar, or at a very Irish event, like a Gaelic dance, you also feel a little peculiar, slightly outside.

  • Q

    You have some elite comedy actors involved in your show. How do you feel about improvisation during your shoots?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    Well, I encourage it. We spend a lot of time on the script and nailing the lines down, but don't want it to feel scripted. So I encourage them to loosen up a bit.

  • Q

    Did anyone audition and you just had to have them in the show so you created a character specifically for them? Or was it all premeditated?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    While we were casting for the main characters, I would come across people I absolutely loved who weren't in the pilot script, so we came up with characters later in the script. For example, for Dan Bakkedahl we created Roger Furlong, the absolutely horrendous congressman. And I think we saw Kevin Dunn for another character, but loved him so much we offered him the part of Ben, which we wrote for him.

  • Q

    is there a particular show/movie/person that inspired VEEP? #FSU #HBOCollege

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    I've always been a huge fan of The Larry Sanders Show. When you watch it now, you realize it was very pro revolutionary really. It's a sitcom, but it feels so natural and believable that you forget it's a sitcom. I also wasn't afraid to have unlikable characters in it. You think they're unlikable characters, but you actually turn out to care for them a lot.

  • Q

    How did you go about choosing the Veep cast?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    First of all, Julia as the vice president was easy because once we'd written the script, we realized we had to find the best actress in America so she was the first person we went to and we instantly connected. With the others, it was a long process of looking for people who could not only deliver the script, but were comfortable improvising and staying in character even when I interviewed them as those characters. After a long process of testing in America, in L.A. and in New York, it was clear who got the message. They were all so very comfortable with the technique I use when shooting.

  • Q

    what type of research did you have to do when writing and developing VEEP? #FSU #HBOCollege

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    Many visits to Washington. People were very welcoming, and showed me around The West Wing and the Pentagon. I took really copious notes, observing the people talking to me more than what they said, trying to get a sense of their mannerisms and how The West Wing worked. I was really watching them very closely.

  • Q

    what is one character trait that you possess that has helped to make you successful in this industry? #FSU #HBOCollege

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    I suppose it's blind optimism, because I have never really sat down with a game plan. All I've done is really want to write things I thought were funny. There was never a plan to get into TV, or film, or be big in the US or the UK. I started in radio and it snowballed from there, so blind optimism or lack of poisonous ambition.

  • Q

    Thanks again for joining us, Armando Iannucci. Any insight into what fans can expect from the Season 2 finale?

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    A
    Armando Iannucci says:

    The season finale is a bit of a roller coaster. There was a lot packed into last night's episode, and it was left with a question mark. The finale will leave you, hopefully, yearning and pleading for Season 3, because a lot of questions will raise.

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