Interviewing Julia Louis-Dreyfus at NJPAC in Newark, Dec. 7, Stephen Colbert admitted to a “love of her work [that] borders on chemical dependency.”
The event, which featured an introduction from Gov. Phil Murphy, was a fundraiser for Montclair Film, which presents the annual Montclair Film Festival (May 1-10 are the dates for 2020) as well as other screenings and programs, year-round. Colbert, a Montclair resident, has presented similar Montclair Film benefits in the past with partners such as Meryl Streep, Jon Stewart, John Oliver and Steve Carell. He is on the advisory board of Montclair Film, and his wife Evelyn is the president of its board of trustees.
At the start of the interview, Colbert said the event kicks off the holiday season for him, and serves as a reminder of New Jerseyans’ support for the arts.
“It’s also important, he said, “because it’s a way for me to remind you that I know famous, cool people … and there has never been a cooler guest than the one we have tonight, Julia-Louis Dreyfus. She is an actress, she is a producer, she is an activist, and the fact that she is here tonight proves that she is a saint walking among us. I believe sincerely that she is the greatest comedic actor of our generation. My love of her work borders on chemical dependency. It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, how ill I am, how low I’ve sunken, I can put on Julia and I instantly feel better.”
They talked about Louis-Dreyfus’ life, as well as the television series she’s been in.
Regarding “Saturday Night Live,” on which she was a cast member from 1982 to 1985, she said “there were plenty of people on the show who were incredibly funny” but added that “I was unbelievably naive and I didn’t really understand how the dynamics of the place worked. It was very sexist, very sexist. People were doing crazy drugs at the time. I was oblivious. I just thought, ‘Oh wow, he’s got a lot of energy.’ ”
She learned from her experience with “SNL,” she said, that “I wasn’t going to do any more of this show business crap unless it was fun. … I sort of applied the fun-meter to every job I’ve had since and that has been very helpful.
About “Seinfeld,” she said that one of the first things that struck her, when she started doing it, was that “it did not resemble anything on television at that time.”
She also said the thing she liked most about the show was “that people who were watching it loved that show. We got a huge kick out of it … Jerry’s laughing the whole time. I mean, he can’t act at all. He’ll tell ya. And so he’s got a huge smile on his face when anyone is saying anything.”
Colbert said about Selina Meyer, the politician she plays on “Veep,” the he loves “the honesty of her mendacity and her selfishness. I just like it all laid out there, in a very human way. She’s understandable.”
Louis-Dreyfus responded: “She’s an understandable, highly unlikeable person.”
They also fielded audience members questions. In response to one, about what lessons or thoughts they hoped politicians would take from their work in political entertainment, Colbert said: “It’s sort of simple: Don’t lie. Because we can tell … and if we’re on your side, we’ll forgive you for the lie.”
Louis-Dreyfus said: “I would love for people to start to embrace, or for there to be a trend … I think it’s okay to say you made a mistake. That is gone from our discourse. How could you not make a mistake? And people seem to be running in fear from that idea and I think there’s common ground there because we all do, of course.”
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