The New Adventures of Julia Louis-Dreyfus

'Veep' star stakes her claim on the silver screen

Nicole Holofcener, left, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Nicole Holofcener, left, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Since her Seinfeld days, the actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 52, has maintained a healthy career in television, thanks to shows like Arrested Development, The New Adventures of Old Christine and now the HBO series Veep, currently shooting its third season. As the leading lady in Nicole Holofcener’s new romantic comedy, Enough Said, which releases this week, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus—who stars alongside the late James Gandolfini, the film’s unexpected love interest—stakes her claim on the silver screen. In a recent conversation with the Transom, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus discussed her new role, the idea of being typecast and the experience of acting with Mr. Gandolfini in his penultimate film.

You’re in every scene of the film. Was that intense?

Yeah, it really was. It was thrilling, of course, and also exhausting, because it was a lot of work. You work your whole life to get these kinds of jobs, so it was sort of dreamy. I thought about [my character] Eva and breathed Eva and was Eva morning, noon and night.

How did the role come about? Did Nicole Holofcener approach you?

She wrote the script, it was sent to me, and I fell in love with it. Then we met, and we immediately hit it off—and she cast me. It was really a casting decision. She didn’t write the film with me in mind.

Were you a fan of Ms. Holofcener’s?

Massive fan. And I said to her, “I just can’t believe this is the first time we’ve worked together,” because we live in the same city, we have kids roughly the same age, we’re roughly the same age, we’ve traveled in the same circles. I’m surprised our paths have never crossed, but they didn’t until this film. But I’m a massive fan of her work.

Could this be the start of something between you and Ms. Holofcener? Catherine Keener, for instance, is basically a lifer.

I’d like to be in the lifers’ club. I think I might have an opportunity to work with her again. I hope to, anyway.

It’s a bittersweet movie, because James Gandolfini is gone. Can you describe what it was like working with him?

The character that he played, Albert, who is a very thoughtful, generous, earnest, self-effacing guy, is very, very close to who Jim was as a person. He was lovely to work with. I think he’s one of the greatest American actors—he was no Tony Soprano, but he really made you believe it. I just treasured my time working with him.

Both you and Mr. Gandolfini were two actors who very easily could have been typecast—you’re Elaine Benes to a lot of people, and Mr. Gandolfini was Tony Soprano to so many—but the two of you managed to overcome that in this movie. Was that difficult?

No, I don’t think it was difficult. It was just a different part, and we just worked really hard at creating these characters with Nicole. I mean, that work was difficult, but not in comparison to anything else. It was just something new. But it was a very fun challenge.

What are the differences you’ve found between acting for TV and for the movies?

First of all, it depends on what kind of television you’re doing. Obviously, the performing that I did on Seinfeld is drastically different than the kind of performing that I do today on Veep—it’s a different voice, different tone, different style. And the same is true for a film like this. I was very aware of the camera, and, when it’s that close to you, being truthful as an actor really does have meaning. I mean, it always does, but I think an audience can tell if you’re faking it. So you really have to go to a truthful place when the camera is up in your face like that.

Mr. Gandolfini studied the Meisner technique. Did you learn that?

I don’t remember what I studied. I studied all sorts of techniques at Northwestern. I do my intuitive technique, I guess is what you call it.