WASHINGTON — Tune into this weekend’s episode of “Veep” and a local face will be featured alongside the show’s stars.
Bob Cusack, managing editor of the newspaper The Hill, is making a cameo Sunday night. He can’t give away any spoilers, but did hint at what viewers can expect from his character.
“I can say I don’t play myself and I don’t play a journalist,” he says sheepishly.
“The rest of it I have to keep secret.”
The New York native got his start in acting as a child in a Pampers commercial. His parents owned an “off-off-off-Broadway theater company” and worked with then-upcoming actors such as Larry David and James Cromwell.
As an adult, Cusack took part-time acting work in political thrillers like “Clear and Present Danger,” “The Pelican Brief” and “In the Line of Fire,” in which he can be seen jogging in the background. His experience as an actor prepared him to cover Capitol Hill, Cusack says.
“In politics, everyone is playing a different role, whether you go on TV as the political analyst … or if you’re a party leader,” he says.
During the shooting, Cusack’s daily role as a journalist and his on-screen role intersected. Not only were copies of “The Hill” on set, but the episode was being filmed during last year’s government shutdown. Cusack calls the experience “surreal.”
“The fictional characters were asking about real-life politics, and I was coming from work [where] there were some major votes going on in Washington,” he says.
The cast of “Veep” was already familiar with the concept of a shutdown. The threat of a federal collapse was featured prominently in Season 2, which had fans wondering whether the show’s producers knew something the rest of the country didn’t:
This kind of mimicry is what makes “Veep,” “House of Cards” and other political shows so popular these days, Cusack says. Characters such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer and Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood are not necessarily based on one specific political figure, but they are composite characters that mirror the reality of backroom politics in D.C.
“There are so many people in the power game that are trying to collect,” Cusack says.
“In ‘Veep’ they use comedy, but the behind-the-scenes talking and strategizing over ‘How are we going to play this?’ or ‘How are we going to deal with this political problem?’ — those discussions do happen behind closed doors.”
As for his acting career, Cusack isn’t ready to quit his day job just yet.
But “if ‘House of Cards’ called, certainly I would take the job,” he says.
Catch Cusack on “Veep” at 10:30 p.m. this Sunday on HBO.