TORONTO—The television series Seinfeld ended with its four main characters locked up in jail, and for a while it felt as if the careers of the actors were also trapped in a cage. People spoke about a “Seinfeld curse”, implying that after the enormous success of the 1990s show, its stars would never again have a hit series (or even one that could go a season without being axed).
And the curse lasted some time: eight years, exactly. Try as they might, none of the stars of one of the most-loved comedies of all time could make any of their numerous attempts at TV pilots last—until Julia Louis-Dreyfus broke out in 2006 with 88 episodes of The New Adventures of Old Christine. Since then, she has gone on to star in a new series, as U.S. vice president Selina Meyer in the critically acclaimed Veep, shattering the notion that the entire cast of Seinfeld is cursed.
So audiences have gotten used to seeing Louis-Dreyfus on the small screen. Apart from some bit roles, though, the recently released Enough Said—showcasing the actor as Eva, a single empty nester who gets into a complicated romantic situation—is her first feature-film role in 13 years. “To be honest, I really haven’t been seeking to work in film that much prior to this time,” Louis-Dreyfus said in a hotel room, while in town for a recent Toronto International Film Festival screening of Enough Said (which opens Friday, September 27). “I’ve been doing so much work in television that was demanding in my schedule nine months a year. But when I had my downtime, I’d really like to be with my family at home, because I had both my boys during the Seinfeld run and then I was raising those boys, so my time was precious to me at home and my family time. So the idea of racing off to do this movie or that movie, while appealing on one level, was unattainable on another. Now I’m doing Veep—it’s 10 episodes a year—and this script came along, so the timing was perfect. And it really spoke to me; it’s a part that I felt like I could really sink my teeth into.”
The struggle that Eva goes through in Enough Said—having to cope with children leaving home for the first time—is one that the veteran actor can relate to. “When we made this film, I had gone through the landmark moment of taking our oldest son to college, and that was something that sort of drew me to the script and talking about it and dealing with that part of a parent’s experience,” she said. “I cried a lot. I cried in anticipation. There’s a kind of denial that sort of sets in. Both my sons went to the same school, and when they send you the bill for the tuition for the following year, I always sent in my money, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, I haven’t got the bill for my other son; I’m not going to write two cheques.’ And I waited and I waited, and it was only until I picked up the phone to say, ‘Hey, I never got it,’ that I realized, ‘Oh, I’m not gonna get it.’ It’s bizarre.”
Although Louis-Dreyfus has proved that the Seinfeld curse is a thing of the past, her character of Elaine Benes will continue to follow her around; the show’s popularity has made sure of that. Could Veep end up having a longer run than the fabled show about nothing? “Well, Seinfeld went on for nine years,” Dreyfus said. “I don’t think you can be vice president for nine years.”