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Julia Louis-Dreyfus on returning to film and James Gandolfini

"Enough Said" star Julia-Louis Dreyfus talks about taking a 16 year break from movies and working with James Gandolfini in one of his last performances.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus co-stars with James Gandolfini in "Enough Said." Credit: Getty Images Julia Louis-Dreyfus co-stars with James Gandolfini in "Enough Said."
Credit: Getty Images

It may seem hard to believe, but "Enough Said" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus hasn't been on movie screens in 16 years. The "Veep" star's last film role was in 1997's "Deconstructing Harry" for Woody Allen, with a pair of voice parts in between in 1998's "A Bug's Life" and this year's "Planes." But she swears she has nothing against movies. It's just that TV was providing plenty of work for her.

"Having these various series is a time-consuming thing," she explains. "I've managed my whole career — until actually at this moment — to work at home in Los Angeles. And I have two kids, both of whom were born during 'Seinfeld.' So when I was doing these series and working eight or nine months a year, those off times were just like, I had to be home. It was untenable for me to think of going away to work on another project — for me personally, in my life. So I just didn't."

But thanks to cable — Louis-Dreyfus' Emmy-winning turn on HBO's "Veep" is returning for a third season — she's found a much more manageable schedule.

"With 'Veep,' I'm doing 10 episodes a year and it has opened things up for me," she says. "And also this film was shot in Los Angeles, which was fabulous."

The film also gives her a chance to collaborate with writer-director Nicole Holofcener, a filmmaker known for complex and engaging female characters. Eva, Louis-Dreyfus' single mom massage therapist who starts dating a client's ex-husband, is no different. "This is a woman who's been hijacked emotionally without almost even knowing it — by herself," Louis-Dreyfus explains. "It really just spoke to me — not that I have ever done anything that deceitful in my life, but I understand why she did it. It does intrigue me, someone who means so well doing something so terrible."

That setup paves the way for a brand of cringe humor in which Louis-Dreyfus insists she revels. "It was actually excruciating to do. I love scenes like that," she says. "I love awkward, wince-y, shame-filled moments of entertainment. I love to live there for as long as possible."

"Enough Said" marks the last film appearance of James Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack during a trip to Italy in June. Louis-Dreyfus insists the romantic comedy is a perfect tribute to the both the actor and the man. "First of all, he's an outstanding actor," she says. "Secondly, James is a gentle giant. This part that he plays of Albert, as this kind and thoughtful and earnest and self-effacing fellow, is very, very close to who James Gandolfini was — much more so than Tony Soprano. He was no mafia boss, James Gandolfini. He was a dear, dear man."

 
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