Matt Walsh on sad, lovable 'Veep' role

Matt Walsh, as Veep's Mike McLintock (Handout)

Matt Walsh, as Veep's Mike McLintock (Handout)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

In the most recent episode of Veep, communications director Mike McLintock was complaining to a colleague about the new short haircut adopted by their boss, vice-president Selina Meyer.

“It's the worst use of scissors since my failed vasectomy,” Mike said.

That's Mike in a nutshell (pun intended). Even when he's reacting to something bad that had nothing to do with him, he manages to insert a little too much of his own life.

Matt Walsh, who plays Mike, understands there's a fine line with the character. For the humour to work on Veep – which wraps up its third season with back-to-back episodes Sunday, June 8 on HBO Canada – we have to believe people such as Mike and Selina (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) are at least kind of competent at some level.

“If it's too tragic then it's all sympathy and no comedy,” Walsh said. “Mike is just an old-school guy. He's a former campaign manager for Selina back in Maryland when she was running for office there.

“I think in the day, Mike was good at his job, because media is about relationships. He had all the important friends, he's a good guy to hang out with, he's nice and lovely. He knew people at the big news outlets, from the New York Times to the Baltimore papers. But the tragedy is, that media doesn't exist any more. It's so fast-paced now and it's these young kids with blogs.

“So Mike is a bit of a dinosaur in that way. But he has an inherent charm with the media. For whatever reason, Selina can push him out there to take the fall for whatever, and somehow it puts out the flame.”

With Selina running for president and the stakes understandably raised, it has been an up-and-down year for Mike. The low point was having to drop to his knees and sing the Civil War song Goober Peas to Jonah (Timothy Simons) in the hope of suppressing a potential scandal.

It's true that Mike is happily married now, to a style-section reporter named Wendy (Kathy Najimy). But even that was a source of stress in last weekend's episode, when Wendy was summoned to do a puff piece on Selina's new haircut and wound up hearing things that tweaked her wider political reporting instincts.

When Mike tried to quash Wendy's curiosity, she complained, “This is what our marriage is going to be? There's always going to be a conflict of interest.” To which Mike replied, “But that's what marriage is, a conflict of interests.”

Again, that's Mike. In equal parts desperate, sad, lovable and confused, with an incredibly thankless job.

“If I'm in an airport, I'll get a pat on the back from people saying, 'You're awesome, I do what you do on the show,' ” Walsh said. “It's almost as if they're happy I'm showing what a difficult position that job is.”

And those well-wishers didn't even know about the failed vasectomy. But give Mike two minutes and he'll tell you about it.

Twitter: @billharris_tv

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

 

 


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