Julia Louis-Dreyfus Talks 'Seinfeld' Reunion Fundraiser, Flipping the Senate and Turning Texas Blue

Friday's reunion event with Jason Alexander and Larry David came together in a matter of days to benefit the Democratic Party of Texas: "Our democracy is on the line," she tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Almost two weeks out from the 2020 presidential election, Julia Louis-Dreyfus started making some phone calls.

"Given how successful the Veep reunion event was for the Wisconsin Dems, I thought to myself, 'Jeez, we could do this again with my Seinfeld buddies and raise a shit ton of money. How could we laser focus that?'" the actress tells The Hollywood Reporter of her idea.

The result is "A Fundraiser About Something," a mini-Seinfeld reunion to benefit and raise awareness for the Democratic Party of Texas. The Veep reunion raised more than $500,000 and courted volunteers for the Democratic party in the key state of Wisconsin. Now, Louis-Dreyfus and her famous friends are turning their eyes toward the possible swing state of Texas. "I think we have a shot here," she says of turning the state blue, highlighting the record early voter turnout.

The virtual Seinfeld event will see Louis-Dreyfus and her former co-star Jason Alexander reuniting with show creator Larry David to go behind the scenes of their all-time favorite episodes. The reunion came together in a matter of days and speaks to the urgency that has been motivating Louis-Dreyfus to lend her star power to social impact initiatives dedicated to turning out the vote, raising awareness for down-ballot races and promoting voter education. "I do believe our democracy is on the line," she says of 2020. "I believe we’re going to win the Senate. I believe we’re going to win the White House. And then, we’ve got a ton of work to do!" (A donation of any amount at txdem.co/Something gives fans access to the event, which will be moderated by Late Night host Seth Meyers and livestreamed once at 7 p.m. CT. By Thursday, the event had already raised $100,000.)

It's been 22 years since Seinfeld went off the air, and another 11 years since the original cast of the iconic and beloved NBC comedy reunited on David's other acclaimed comedy, HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Putting herself back in the head space of Elaine Benes for Friday required the actress to commit herself to a Seinfeld binge and do the "impossible" task of picking her favorite episode. Below, in a chat with THR ahead of the reunion fundraiser, Louis-Dreyfus talks of her hopes for Election Day and beyond, shares a behind-the-scenes story about Elaine's famous dancing ("I was completely flabbergasted at what a fool he looked like," she says of the Trump comparison), and explains why her Seinfeld alter ego would vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris today.

You have been working not just to turn out the vote for Joe Biden but also to flip the Senate. Can you talk about why it’s so important to raise awareness for the down-ballot races?

Well, sure — because there are three branches of government. Not only do we want to win the executive branch — that’s critical, needless to say — but there’s an urgency to getting majority in the Senate as well, and having Mitch McConnell sit down. It’s enough. He’s caused a lot of destruction, and I think everything he stands for is an outrage. So I’m eager for a new Senate majority leader. And then these state down-ballot races are just as critical and it’s something that the Democrats are getting really good at. The Republicans have been really good at it, and I think they realized it earlier than the Dems did — that these state races and state legislatures have enormous impact in terms of redistricting and so on in individual states. And that’s, again, a very critical piece of the puzzle; including fighting voter suppression, which the Republicans seem hell-bent on pushing forward and I’ve often thought, "Jeez, that’s really all you need to know."

There’s more of a focus on this from the industry, with many casts across entertainment holding reunions to raise awareness for key states and races. How does the political push from Hollywood feel different to you for 2020, compared to 2016?

This race feels different, but not just from a Hollywood point of view. I think it feels different from an American point of view. Citizens are being called to action in a way that they haven’t in the past. Just look at the voter turnout thus far. The numbers are astounding and we’re two weeks away from Nov. 3. I would say that, yes, our business is stepping up, but I think that all factions of the country are stepping up. Actually, I don’t think, I know.

The Veep reunion fundraiser focused on the key state of Wisconsin. With the Seinfeld reunion, you are zeroing in on the potential swing state of Texas. What are your expectations for this event and how hopeful are you about Texas turning blue?

I’m very hopeful. First of all, voter turnout in Texas as we speak is the highest voter turnout of any state in the U.S. Since 2016, they’ve added 2.6 million new voters to the voting roll and 1.6 million of those people are of color and/or under the age of 35. That number, 2.6 million, is the population of New Mexico — it’s as if New Mexico was plopped down in the middle of Texas and started voting. I think that’s a very good sign. There are 10 Congressional seats, as I understand it, that are gettable for the Democrats, and they’re nine seats away right now from flipping the state house. There’s urgency to that because if we are able to flip the state house, then the Democrats have a seat at the table when it comes to redistricting. So, there’s a lot going on in Texas that is terribly, terribly important.

I understand you were the mastermind behind the Seinfeld event. Larry David is also involved in social awareness initiatives for 2020, but how much convincing did he need when it came to revisiting Seinfeld?

After the Veep reunion event, I went to my Seinfeld buds. And it was all terribly last minute, needless to say, so these guys were available and fortunately Seth [Meyers] was available, and they said yes. [Veep showrunner] Dave Mandel is helping us too, because he was also a writer on Seinfeld. He’s helping to structure this and put it together.

What should Seinfeld fans be excited about?

Each of us has chosen an episode that we’re going to talk about. Our so-called favorite episode. And that will be fun because it gives us an opportunity to watch the episodes again and then talk about little behind-the-scenes stuff that maybe you’ve never heard before. That’s what we’re going to do, in addition to having a raffle of some fun Seinfeld-y items. I think it will be a gas. It will certainly be fun to do because I love hanging out and reminiscing with my buddies and that’s what this is going to be.

How hard was it to pick your favorite episode?

It was impossible for me to pick mine. I spent all day yesterday just sitting in front of my television watching back-to-back Seinfeld episodes, which I don’t think I’ve done since it went off the air. You know how sometimes you get lost in a photo album from days gone by? It was kind of like that.

Do you think anyone will pick the series finale as their episode to talk about?

I suspect not. (Laughs.)

This event was already in the works when Trump’s dancing went viral, and that was basically an ad for this reunion. Your tweet about it went viral. When you first saw it, how did you react — were you horrified, or laughing?

Nothing he does makes me laugh anymore. I was completely flabbergasted at what a fool he looked like. I don’t know how else to say it. It was like, how could he allow himself, or how could anyone allow him, to move like that? And that’s the least of our problems. I suppose I would feel differently if he was a great leader and was incredibly on top of our democracy, and was respectful of the rule of law and was a good man — then perhaps I would find the dance much more charming than I did when I watched it!

Since that’s one of my favorite episodes, can you share how you perfected Elaine’s dance moves back then?

I remember getting the script the day before the table read and I thought, "Oh, God. Now what am I going to do?" And I stood in front of the mirror and tried to find really unattractive body movements. As I recall, I came up with two ideas and I remember going to my mom, who was visiting at the time, and my husband and asking, “Which one of these looks worse?” And they voted for the one that ultimately made it into the show. There’s music, of course, playing when I was dancing [in the episode, "The Little Kicks"], but when we actually shot it we couldn’t play any music. It was impossible to do those movements if music was playing because you would ultimately move to the beat, so putting the music in afterwards would really help enhance the horribleness of it all.

Can you break the dance out on command?

I can definitely break it out. But I definitely won’t break it out.

If Elaine was sitting around the table with Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), George (Alexander) and Kramer (Michael Richards) today, what do you think they would have to say about the election?

Well, you know they were very self-obsessed people. This is a good question. I’d like to think that Elaine would be pretty left-wing [today]. She was left-wing, I’m certain of it. But I’m sure she would be anti-Trump. I don’t know about the other characters. One thing’s for sure, they’d still be miserable, no matter who was in office. It was a miserable group of people and under all circumstances, they’re miserable. They’re destined for misery.

But you do see Elaine as being a vote for Democratic nominee Joe Biden?

Yeah. That’s what I’m going to say.

What are the chances of everyone on the cast getting back together for another reunion or revival?

Well, we did that already on Curb Your Enthusiasm (pictured below). We did what I thought was a pretty clever reunion of sorts, like an anti-reunion reunion on Curb. And I think that’s sort of been done.

David Mandel recently said that he feels like, two years off the air, Veep seems to be more relevant and popular than ever.

I do, too.

Does that make you miss Veep, or does it make you even happier that you ended it when you did?

I miss Veep tremendously. I don’t even know if we were making Veep right now how we could compete. And as I’ve said before, right now with all of his, just everything about him, it’s a better episode of our show except to say that it’s not even remotely funny because lives are being lost. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Point being: We can’t compete with that. If we were lucky enough to get a Biden win, maybe all of a sudden Veep becomes a tenable situation because it’s a more extreme situation. But, we’ll see. We’ll see.

What is your optimistic scenario for what happens on Election Day?

I am optimistic that voter turnout, as it has been thus far, is going to be record-breaking and that people have come to their senses and are going to kick that guy out of office and get a true leader in office and right this ship. I do believe our democracy is on the line. I believe we’re going to win the Senate. I believe we’re going to win the White House. And then, we’ve got a ton of work to do! It’s not like it’s all of a sudden going to be perfect. That's when the real work begins. But I trust Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to get the real work done. Believe me, they’re going to need help. But these are intelligent, thoughtful, kind adults who have respect for the rule of law, and I yearn for that day, and I think it’s around the corner.

Do you have any other special events or initiatives tied to Nov. 3?

I’m doing a lot of work for down-ballot candidates across the country, and I’ll be doing that between now and Election Day and also getting the messaging out about voting in particular. Each state has various rules that one must abide by, and we need to make sure that everybody is doing exactly that and that nobody feels disenfranchised; that their vote counts. I’m trying to get that message out, too. Because if you feel like your vote doesn’t count, then you are obviously less likely to vote. The more that it’s understood that your vote actually makes a difference, I think the better it is for democracy.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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