Remember the cute kid who starred opposite Macaulay Culkin in My Girl (1991) and its 1994 sequel, My Girl 2?
The cherubic-looking girl is now a foul-mouthed chief of staff to the vice-president.
On TV, that is.
Anna Chlumsky stars opposite Seinfeld’s Julia Louis- Dreyfus in new comedy Veep, which starts on HBO (StarHubTVCh601) tonight at 10pm.
The show follows fictitious US Vice-President Selina Meyer, played by Louis-Dreyfus, and her staff as they stumble their way through the workings of the White House.
The role is Chlumsky’s biggest to date since My Girl – she took a break from acting in her teenage years to go off to college, before making a comeback in 2005 after some soul-searching.
After graduating with a degree in international studies from the University of Chicago, Chlumsky, 31, took on jobs as a researcher for restaurant reviewer Zagat and proofreading science fiction novels for publisher Harper Collins.
“I was living in New York and doing other jobs in other industries, and I got so inspired by watching plays and movies,” she told reporters in a conference call from her home in Brooklyn, New York, last week.
“I felt that if I became an actress as an adult, I could really become a part of telling stories.
“As a kid, it feels more like a personality contest. But I think being a child and a teenager in a professional capacity has taught me a lot about being professional now.”
For a while, there wasa story circulating that Chlumsky had gone back into acting because a psychic had told her to.
In previous interviews, she had told a story of going to meet a psychic who had told her that she had to return to acting.
Laughing at the suggestion, she said: “I do have to be clear about this. I went to this psychic when I’d already decided to go back (to acting).
“It made me realise how much I already wanted to go back.”
Political black comedy
She landed her role in Veep after working with show creator Armando Iannucci on political black comedy, In The Loop.
It is a film about the war in Iraq that was nominated foran Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 2010.
Louis-Dreyfus’s character, she noted, is not modelled on a “particular public official”, unlike the recent HBO TV movie Game Change, which was based on Sarah Palin, former Republican Party nominee for the vice-president.
“The writers (on the show) are very inspired by some things they notice in the real world. Everyone is fair game, but it’s not necessarily about anybody in particular,” she said.
But to prepare for the role, Chlumsky and the rest of the cast did tail some real life politicians in Washington as they went about their daily lives.
And to add a little realism into the mix, the show’s characters swear quite a bit, VP Meyer included.
“Our characters have very bad language. Maybe people aren’t used to hearing politicians swear that much,” she said, laughing.
“It does kind of help remind the audience that these people are behind the cameras and are not on their best behaviour.”
Asked about her own political leanings, Chlumsky would only say she is “an active member of my democracy”.
“I pay attention, but I don’t necessarily look at it as a soap opera that some people do,” she said.
Chlumsky feels the show offers viewers a different perspective on how to view government and politicians.
“I think the message that anyone can take away from the show is that it’s okay to satirise major things.
People shouldn’t be too serious about our society. That can be bad,” she said.
“I think humour and satire can give us a perspective on government. It’s an opportunity to not think that politicians are superheroes or supervillains.”
This article was first published in The New Paper.