Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Interview with Anna Chlumsky ('Halt & Catch Fire,' 'Veep')

I'm off today but here's something I was able to write in advance

This was posted on Sunday, August 27, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

I caught up with actress Anna Chlumsky this past spring at a Midtown Starbucks to discuss her new recurring role on the fourth and finale season of AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire," plus her time on the Emmy-winning HBO comedy "Veep," which is set for a seventh season in 2018.

On "Halt and Catch Fire," which returned August 19, she will play Dr. Katie Herman, a woman who will play a crucial role as the primary players on the show pursue the Holy Grail of search engines in the mid-1990s before Google swallowed us whole.

Chlumsky herself is a huge fan of the highly regarded but low-rated drama, which opened in the earlier days of the burgeoning PC  business in the 1980s in Texas, then moved over time to the West Coast and now the early days of the Internet. "I love this show so freaking much," she said. "It's upsetting I couldn't get on a soap box in time to save it. It's still so worth it. It's worth everybody's time. It's so beautifully written."

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She said her character is not a traditional Silicon Valley techie. Rather, Katie is an ontologist who studies information science. "They hired her to categorize things they're collecting," she said. "It's an information company... Everyone is trying to figure out the best approach to search."

Her character, she said, will appear in five of the final 10 episodes. Her first appearance will happen during the fourth episode on September 9. (The show airs at 9 p.m. Saturdays.)

Chlumsky said her character is a far cry from her angry, bitter Amy Brookheimer on "Veep."

"It's really refreshing," she said. "Katie is really California. She takes life by the horn. It's very Janeane Garofalo, flowers, chunky boots and eyeliner."

She considers Katie "charming" but nothing about her or any of the characters is straightforward. "They have such a deep respect for the human condition... I applaud them so much. I don't know many other shows doing such a deep dives into the complexities of being a human being."


At the end of season six of "Veep," Amy announced she was pregnant though when I talked to her in March, that hadn't actually happened. Why the heck is she back working for ex-president Meyer anyway as deputy chief of staff? "No doubt she wants another job but everyone is super toxic after a losing election," she said. "No one wants to hire you until the memory fades."

Chlumsky's read on Amy: "Her self esteem is so low. I've been saying she's been in a free fall since the beginning of the series. Audience members have followed her trajectory downward and just waiting and rooting for when she'll get her mojo back."

A resident of New York City, she had shot the first four seasons of "Veep" in Baltimore but moved to Los Angeles for season five. When they shot Selina Meyer's trip to the Middle East, they used a "film ranch."

"It's fascinating," Chlumsky said. "It's an open ranch representing different hot spots in the world. There's a Mexican drug cartel area. There's bombed out Iraq, Somalia. We did Sudan. I sent my husband shots of hollowed out tanks and said, 'Look where I am!' "

Just for fun, here's a summary of some of Amy's nastier insults (warning: some curse words are thrown in)

I told her that I remember seeing her in Los Angeles in 1993. I happened to be at the La Brea Tar Pits when I saw then 12-year-old Chlumsky shooting a scene of "My Girl 2." She remembered that day running uncomfortable in clogs and having to climb a fence. And though the film was not nearly the success of the original also starring Macauley Culkin, she got to work with the likes of Richard Masur and Christine Ebersole. "Wonder pedigree," she said.

She actually stepped away from acting in her early 20s, working at Zagat and Harper Collins, where her work was "a step above telemarketing," she said.

Chlumsky returned to Hollywood in 2007 including a horror flick shot in Atlanta "Blood Car." But nothing big struck for her career wise until "Veep" in 2012. Executive producer Armando Ianucci worked with her in the 2009 film "In the Loop" and thought she'd be perfect to play Amy. She loves the show's quick pacing, the documentary feel and sharp writing.

"Just turned out to be the most joyous job in the world," she said. "It also paid the most. I had to do some other gigs to pay the rent."

And Chlumsky said "Veep" truly reflects Beltway culture. "They are speeding through life so fast," she said. "They're trying to be on top of everything. They're addicted to the adrenaline of it all. But before you know it, life is over. It's gone."

She also isn't perturbed that the real White House nowadays often seems nuttier than what goes on in "Veep."

"We're lucky that we banked on finding the absurdity in the political realm," she said. "There will never be a shortage of absurdities."


"Halt and Catch Fire," 9 p.m. Saturdays, AMC

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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