Sufe Bradshaw Talks Life on HBO’s ‘Veep’ Set
In an age of TV obsessed with fictionalizing the world of D.C. politics, there’s nothing quite like Veep. HBO’s Emmy-winning political satire, created by Armando Iannucci, focuses on the hilarious political ups and downs of the fictional Vice President of the United States Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).
While the show’s storylines provide many laughs, the funniest and freshest aspect of the show is Selina’s relationships and interactions with the frequently incompetent members of her staff.
There’s chief of staff Amy (Anna Chlumsky), who constantly sacrifices her personal life to clean up Selina’s messes; personal aide Gary (Tony Hale), who is fiercely loyal and may know a little too much about Selina’s personal life; Dan (Reid Scott), who prides himself on his good looks and networking skills; Mike (Matt Walsh), who is more dedicated to his boat than his career; and last, but certainly not least, there’s Sue.
Portrayed by Sufe Bradshaw, the vice president’s personal assistant is in charge of taking phone calls, scheduling and canceling meetings, dealing with annoying politicians, and, maybe most importantly, sending White House liaison and everyone’s favorite punching bag Jonah (Timothy Simons) back to wherever he came from.
Sue is blunt, straightforward and has no problem telling everyone exactly what she thinks. And although Sue prides herself on having no sense of humor, her qualities make her stand out as a fan favorite on a show full of Capitol Hill crazies. With season three premiering April 6, Bradshaw couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s been such a great ride from season one into season three. It’s been amazing,” she tells GALO via phone from Los Angeles, “just to see the characters and my cast growing. All of the success and acclaim that the show has, it’s very exciting to watch the whole thing unfold.”
While she first began her acting career at the Los Angeles Theatre Academy, the Chicago-native quickly began getting television and film roles. With guest spots on ER, Flash Forward and Prison Break to roles on Star Trek (2009), playing Sue on Veep is her first series-regular television role.
Bradshaw, who is also a filmmaker, spoken word poet and community activist, recently talked to GALO about her lack of similarities to Sue, filming in Baltimore, Md., and what it’s like to work with her comedic cast.
GALO: Let’s talk about Sue as a character. She is the definition of no-nonsense and to-the-point, and she gets things done. Do you share any similarities with Sue, or do you find yourself acquiring her traits the longer you play her?
Sufe Bradshaw: I think we’ve all met people like Sue, which is pretty funny. Not that they’re similar in that they’re mean, but they just don’t have a lot of time, you know? I’m actually not like her at all. She’s very dry and to-the-point. I would say she’s curt and acerbic. Those would be the words. And I’m not like that at all [laughs].
It’s such a fun character to play. It’s hilarious that she’s, like, judging everybody, you know? So it’s really funny to be able to play her, and to be so different from the character is also pretty great. There’s the hair, the makeup and the clothes, and, before you know it, I transform into the character. She’s been a blast to play. I’ve been living with her for three years now. We know [the characters] like the back of our hands.
GALO: Sue has had her fair share of zingers and memorable moments throughout these past two seasons. What has been your personal favorite “Sue moment?”
SB: There’s been so many. I really liked it when she went in front of a Congressional hearing. I thought that was pretty funny. Episode three [of season two] was fun because you got to see her not be so strong, which was fun to play.
That was fun for me because when we were shooting we got to see [Baltimore] City Hall. We were actually in City Hall and it was still functioning. There’s this camera crew and show that’s shooting and then there’s people actually walking in and out, so it was just so funny to see Baltimore during a weekday, crowded and insane.
It was very adventurous to do that. I also liked when [the characters] got furloughed. That was so much fun because the characters got to play each other. Tony Hill, who plays Gary, was doing his Sue impression. Anytime there’s an episode where Sue goes on an adventure, I love it.
GALO: The City Hall episode showed that while Sue is usually on top of things, she’s human and is just as prone to making mistakes as everyone else on Selina’s staff. This showed when she blanked at a Congressional hearing, pulling a Selina-Dan-Jonah type of no-no. Did you enjoy portraying her in this different light, which strayed from her usual “third most important person in the world” demeanor?
SB: I think any actor loves to play their characters a little different. I thought that was great. I loved it. Anytime you can mix it up and show different layers and different sides to characters that are already written is great for an actor. It’s a great exercise.