Reid Scott’s decision to take improvisation classes at the city’s Upright Citizens Brigade in 2001 has proved quite fortuitous. The Albany-born, Syracuse-educated aspiring actor and writer had some friends in the program and thought it sounded fun. Little did he know how those days spent trading lines at the UCB and other improvisation theaters would prepare him for his current role opposite Matt Walsh, one of the founders of UCB, on Veep, which premieres April 22 on HBO.
“It’s so freeing to not have to worry about censoring yourself in terms of language or material,” Scott says of working with Walsh under a cable network’s umbrella. “You can just let the dogs bark. Everybody in the show has an improv background or can naturally roll with it. I don’t know how anybody could step in, even as a guest star, if they couldn’t roll with the punches. It moves fast, it’s smart, and it feels real.”
Although Scott previously starred opposite comedic talents like Jim Gaffigan and Jordana Spiro in his former role as “dreamboat” Brendan Dorff on TBS’ My Boys, the character had little depth. Veep offered a complete turnaround in which Scott channels his less likable side as Dan Egan, a heartless DC political legend whom Julia Louis-Dreyfus hires to be the thorn in Anna Chlumsky’s side. “Dan is not necessarily a bad person, but of this group, he’s definitely the worst one with the least scruples,” he says. “He is a self-serving, driven, Machiavellian, maniacal kind of guy.”
Off the set, Scott is decidedly not the same ruthless cutthroat, nor is the rest of Veep’s cast and crew. In fact, everyone on the show is from the Midwest or East Coast, which the 34-year-old thinks is no coincidence. “East Coast people have the edge, the drive, the style, everything that appeals to me,” he says. “It’s always going to feel like home to me. When I’m away, I even miss the gray skies and bad weather. I think that’s when people get creative. I used to live for the rain and snow—any excuse to lock inside with a guitar, pen and a pad, or my laptop.”
But could the Veep star see life imitating art? Scott doesn’t dismiss the idea of running for office—but don’t expect to see his name on the ballot just yet. “My parents and my family are mildly involved in politics, so it is something I could see myself moving towards,” he says. “Honestly, though, right now, I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”