I’ve been wanting to tell you guys about stuff that happened on the set of my “VEEP” episode, but didn’t know what constituted NDA violation, and frankly, didn’t want to spoil anything for actual fans of the show. So, I dutifully waited until the show aired on April 13th (yeah, that’s right – shot on Friday September 13th, aired on April 13th!), and then waited two weeks in case anyone was behind on their “VEEP.” So here goes…
I’d been going in to read for day-player roles on this show since mid-season 1. Finally they thought I was the best fit for this one, and of course they refer to the role as “Weird Guy.” Talk about typecasting! I’ll take it!
For these two Coast Guard scenes they shot on-location at an airbase in Middle River, MD, which is east of Baltimore. This is a bit more of a drive than their set location, but as you know I like driving, so set the GPS and off I went. On the way there I got a message from one of the production assistants that the writers would like us to rehearse the scenes beforehand, so they were moving the call times up by an hour. Fortunately I still had about an hour of buffer left, so only had to hit the gas a little more to make it just in time.
When I got there one of the PA’s led my car through the gate and to the piece of airstrip we were using for home base. I parked and they took me to my trailer. Well, more accurately, my section of the trailer they were using for co-stars, but I had my own door that said “Weird Guy” on it, so I was happy. We went to rehearsal and all the cast introduced themselves, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who shook my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Julia.” And I thought, well, yeah, I knew that – you’re the famous one,” but fortunately I merely said, “Hi, I’m Greg.” So we then ran through the scene and went back to our trailers to wait for the sun to set.
The first scene they shot was the first one where they were still at the dock, so rather than sit in my trailer all alone, I hung out on the set watching the proceedings, and talking with cast and crew between takes. Here’s a photo Reid Scott took and posted on Twitter that night. He was ridiculously fun to talk to! I didn’t take any photos on set because I didn’t want to get in trouble, and besides, it was almost out of juice from the GPSing and such.
Then they set up my scene. They put my boat out and anchored it like 40 feet from the dock, Then I got in a smaller patrol boat (like the one parked next to my boat in the scene), they took me out, and I made the transition to my boat without incident, which is good, because I was the only cast that wasn’t wearing a life vest. But I figured I was pretty safe given my swimming ability, our proximity to shore and the number of actual Coast Guard personnel surrounding me. Yes, those are actual CG in the small boat and standing in my boat. Cool, huh?
We did several takes running the entire scene with the cameras behind me, and then the crew went over to the big patrol boat to shoot the entire scene from my side another several times. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I hadn’t decided it was a funny idea to have my arms up for the entire scene. This of course meant that I had to have them up for every single shot, and as I said, they filmed the entire scene in one go, which meant I had my arms up and motionless for like ten minutes at a stretch. Between takes I had to rub my shoulders while the director of photography sent me encouragement.
The next day my shoulders were so sore I could barely move them. But I’d had so much fun the night before that it was well worth it!