As regular readers of this site know, we’re huge fans of Veep around here. And of the show’s legion of memorable characters, there’s probably not one we enjoy more than Jonah Ryan, the dickish White House aide turned bomb-throwing blogger as editor-in-chief of Ryantology portrayed masterfully by Timothy Simons. We were lucky enough to get to spend some time chatting with Simons recently. He talked about his life before and after Veep, his favorite break-up song and his favorite Jonah insult, among other things.
TIM: Hey man. How’s it going?
UPROXX: Excellent. How are you?
TIM: Doing really good.
UPROXX: Sounds like it.
TIM: I get so many comments from people about things that have come up about the show on your site. I have a lot of friends that are on your site a lot. That feels good.
UPROXX: That’s great. I like to think that we were on the Tim Simons/Veep train a long time before anyone else was. And it’s been fun to watch your character develop and I really am enjoying the hell out of Jonah becoming a blogger after getting fired from his White House staff gig. How do you feel about the turn of events in his storyline there?
TIM: You know, I love it. For a lot of different reasons and I think it’s really funny. Also because as a performer it’s just like you, you don’t want to ever get caught in doing the same thing over and over again. You want things to develop. You want things to change and I feel like it’s allowed me to show different things. So it’s been really fun. But you’re nervous. You want to be able to do different things but I remember being really nervous when it first happened. Because it was like, well this is something that really is different than what I’ve been doing for the last two years, which I think we all thought had been working.
UPROXX: So you were worried you might be getting written off the show, I’m guessing? That’s what I, as a viewer, had become mildly concerned with.
TIM: Yeah, sure. But at this point I feel like they would have told me if I was getting written off the show. So when I first read it, I was like, “Well this definitely gonna be different.” But I was confident in that I wasn’t going to be completely replaced. However, it was strange because you kind of get that comfort of, “Well this is definitely working” and so it’s sort of scary to go into unknown territory. But that sort of (lone renegade blogger) reporting is kind of part and parcel with politics these days, so it just makes sense to introduce a character like that.
UPROXX: I thought it was a really, really brilliant plot twist, for lack of a better term. especially from the standpoint of a viewer who really enjoys Jonah’s unrepentant dickishness. You take him out of the White House and you take the behavioral restraints of having a White House job off of him and he’s even more out of control and out there and an even bigger thorn in the side of Selina and all of her staff.
TIM: He’d been rejected but now he’s in charge at Ryantology. Jonah doesn’t have the perceived power that he thought he had at the White House when he really didn’t, but now he has some actual power.
UPROXX: I’ve been a political junkie for a long time and I think one of the reasons that Veep really struck a cord with me was because I had some awareness of how utterly loathsome some of the people in the D.C. power circle are. Did you have any exposure to that before? Were you a political junkie at all or was this a big learning curve for you to try to catch up on who Jonah was, who the people in his world were and so on and so forth?
TIM: You know I was a little bit of a political junkie and I not only tried to keep up on it. The biggest thing that I learned from this was that a lot of politicians will talk but never tell you the truth. And the things that I was trying to keep up on and informed about were the very things that the politicians were putting on about. Like, I wasn’t actually learning what was happening. I was learning what the spin was on what was happening. So in that way I have become a less political person, but someone that is sort of less interested in listening to the spin on events.
UPROXX: So has your part on Veep made you more cynical to politics?
TIM: Absolutely. I still have a reverence for it and I still think that it can be a force for good. But I am definitely a lot more cynical than I was when I first started the show.
UPROXX: I don’t know if you’ll remember this or not, but last year you and I got into a discussion about break-ups and breakup songs via e-mail after you did an UPROXX 20 for us. Somehow it came up that I was going through a breakup at the time and you told me about how you had gone through a really nasty breakup a few years back and how you listened to “Title and Registration” by Death Cab for Cutie on repeat for months after that particular breakup. So I was wondering if you have any other breakup song suggestions that you’d like to share with the UPROXX audience?
TIM: Oh my God. Okay well that’s a really good one. Oh sh*t. Oh that’s just a good question. I want to really think it over – – cause that one was the one for me.
UPROXX: Why don’t you repeat the story of that song to me. Tell me about how you came to discover that song and how it kind of came to be your breakup song, if you, of course, feel comfortable talking about it?
TIM: Oh no it’s fine. I think it was just very much of that time. It was very much — that song was very much about that time in my life for me. You know, I feel like I was such a fan of that Postal Service sound, that aesthetic. I had just moved to Chicago and so I was going through this breakup and I was unemployed. I had just been cast in a big commercial, which had run, and I had gotten some money from that and I was really young and really stupid so I just decided to quit all my other jobs because I figured that I’d get a bunch more commercials and the checks would come rolling in. But then all of a sudden I was broke and unemployed and it was terrible. I remember going to the movies to see Harry Potter — I think it was the third one, which is still my favorite — and I bought a ticket to the early show and I just stayed all day sneaking into other movies because there was a heat wave and I didn’t have air conditioning. The movie theater was the only place I could stay cool. It was terrible.
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