Emmys 2019: Has Julia Louis-Dreyfus Really Made a Career Out of Playing Jerks?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus returned to the Emmys after a year of ineligibility, and she has been the talk of the town since nominations were announced early in the summer. With the day now upon us, chatter has kicked up about Louis-Dreyfus’ chances of taking home another trophy for her inspired portrayal of Selina Meyer on Veep.  She didn’t take home the prize in the end, but even before the winner was announced, Louis-Dreyfus seems unfazed about making Emmy history, but she did offer some thoughts on her career thus far recently. In a moment of unfettered honesty, she noted that she’d made her entire career out of being a “lovable as****e.”  Louis-Dreyfus’ acting prowess should never be diminished, but she’s right. Her most iconic characters have been pretty big jerks.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ famed character on Seinfeld was kind of a jerk

When you think about Seinfeld, you probably think about Kramer’s hijinx, or George’s self-esteem issue, or Jerry’s “golden boy” persona. What people often forget is that every character was inherently flawed, and pretty mean most of the time.

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The insulated group made up of three men and one woman, spent their time hanging out and dating around New York City, and failing, at every turn, to meet someone they deemed “dateable”. Louis-Dreyfus’ character of Elaine was absolutely lovable. She was funny, snarky and a little bit quirky. In every way, though, Elaine wasn’t exactly the most helpful person in the world.

From her poor treatment of on-again, off-again boyfriend David Puddy, to her seething resentment over Goerge’s impending marriage, to her disdain for certain coworkers, Elaine was not an inherently good person, but she was likable all the same.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ current character role is snarky, too

Louis-Dreyfus’ portrayal of a relatable jerk wasn’t a one-off scenario. The part that has garnered her the most Emmy trophies falls into the same category. The character of Selina Meyer on Veep is likable on many levels, but a kind person she is not most of the time. Variety described the role as “foul-mouthed.” Several other reviewers and fans seem to agree that much of the levity in Veep is attributed to Selina Meyer’s propensity towards fits.  

Louis-Dreyfus’ portrayal of Selina works, but it only works because of Louis-Dreyfus’ comedic timing. She has a particular knack for delivering scathing one-liners without seeming too offensive. Buzzfeed notes that the character often says all of the things ordinary people think but are too terrified to say out loud. I mean, haven’t you ever wanted to tell someone to put on their running shoes and get to the point?  

How many Emmys has Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for her two most famous roles?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus may not have won an Emmy in the lead actress category this year, but she’s still a prolific trophy winner. She’s taken home six trophies in the Oustanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category for her work on Veep.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus | Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Before she took on the role of Selina Meyer, She won an Emmy Award for her work on The New Adventures of Old Christine. She was nominated four additional times for her work on the show. Before all of that, she won her very first Emmy for her portrayal of Elaine on Seinfeld. She took home the trophy for Oustanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1996. She was nominated an additional six times in the category for the same role.