Born in Chicago and raised in Los Angeles, Bradshaw is the sixth of nine children, which makes her intimately aware of how to size up and control a crowded room. Before scoring her role on Veep, Bradshaw appeared in films such as Star Trek and on numerous TV series, including Bones, Prison Break, Southland, ER, Flash Forward and Cold Case. In the season premiere, Sue Wilson finally delivered the news Vice President Meyer has been waiting for—the President called—setting off another hilarious season.
DivineCaroline: You can so imagine most of the characters in Veep actually existing within the workings of Washington, D.C.
Sufe Bradshaw: We were able to do some research before season one. We went to the Pentagon and to the West Wing and met people like the ones we are portraying. I have to tell you, it’s spot on.
DC: What was it like when you heard you got the part?
SB: I had an audition with Allison Jones (casting director). The creator, Armando Iannucci, and a couple of the producers were in Baltimore because they were scouting locations already. Sue was the last character to get cast. So I went in to do my audition and it was on Skype, which was pretty fun. I got a callback and then I flew into Baltimore to do a chemistry read with Anna Chlumsky. As soon as my plane landed in LA I got the call that I got the job. I was screaming like a little girl. It was so great.
DC: What is it like to be on a smart and irreverent comedy show?
SB: It’s an actor’s dream because it allows the actors to play and not feel like they are restricted or limited with material. It’s such a fun and open set that we have on Veep. We are allowed to throw in ideas about what could possibly be happening in the scene or the episode.
DC: In season one, Sue was such a presence in every scene. Your eyes and body language often dictated the mood of a scene. As an actress what was it like to play this character who speaks softly, but carries such a powerful punch?
SB: I think the writers wrote all of our characters so specifically. Sue jumped off the page. You see her and you say, “This is a woman I’ve met.” I patterned her after those workers who are day in, day out—no nonsense. It was fun for me to be able to be silent in some ways, but also really powerful. I got a chance to play with my castmates. So often in television things are kind of canned. You know where the joke’s going to come. You know where the laugh track is going to be. But on Veep we have the great pleasure of kind of making jokes up on the spot.
We have a stellar team with Julia, Anna, Matt [Walsh], Reid [Scott], Tim [Simons], and Tony [Hale]. We’re all peas in a pod on that set. We work together so well. It’s actually kind of easy for it all to come together. We’re so invested in our characters. We get along really well in real life. It feels like the natural thing to do.
DC: How much say did you have in how this character was presented?
SB: The dress part, the team came up with that. We have an amazing wardrobe team that’s led by Ernesto Martinez. I’m an actor who goes from the outside in, so putting on her clothes every day and putting on the makeup, putting the hair in a bun, throwing on the jewelry, helps create the character for me.
The creators and directors, of course, have the last word, which they should because they’re amazing writers. Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche, those guys are amazing. We trust them to do the work, but we’re allowed to play around with scenes. If it doesn’t work, you throw it out, and if it works you keep it.
DC: We don’t know what political party the President or Selena Meyer are from. The scripts take jabs at the overall scope of politics rather than a party.
SB: There’s no need to be taking sides because it’s a comedic show, so we’ve got the pleasure of being able to laugh at politics, open it up and take some of the pressure off of it.
DC: When you were filming season one, did you and your fellow castmates have individual or shared ideas of what this never-seen President is like?
SB: I personally didn’t because there was so much going on in that office with the people we actually have on screen and the people we’re playing with—we have enough to be focused on.
DC: You are one of nine children, so you’re used to working in an ensemble. What is the dynamic in this cast where chemistry plays such an important part of connecting to the audience?
SB: Coming from a family of nine there never is a dull moment. My brothers primarily are in music. I’m the only actor, but you could never tell at a Thanksgiving. Everybody was an actor in my house—storytellers, flamboyant. I have a natural comfort with a group of people.
DC: Do you always know how to mediate?
SB: It’s true to my character. Sue solves things. When they go into a flurry of what’s going on, she says, “Do this, do that. Gotta go.” That’s very true to how I grew up.
DC: With Veep filming wrapped for the season, what else are you working on?
SB: I’m working on a documentary about inner-city youth, which I think is going to be a really powerful piece. It begs the question, what’s the difference between a kid who goes down the right road and gets a great education and is successful in life, or what makes them completely check out and they become juvenile delinquents? In asking what the difference is maybe figure out how to limit some of the juvenile delinquency. It’s called New Leaves.
DC: Will we see POTUS in season two?
SB: You have to wait and see.