If you ever watched Seinfeld or Veep and wondered whether Julia Louis-Dreyfus was having fun, the answer is yes. The actor spoke to Stephen Colbert this weekend about her career and her personal life and revealed that her time on Saturday Night Live taught her one very important lesson. “I learned I wasn’t going to do anymore of this show-business crap unless it was fun.”
Louis-Dreyfus appeared on stage in New Jersey on Saturday night next to Colbert, with the pair helping to raise money for Montclair Film, an arts and film organization run by Colbert’s wife. The fundraiser included 3,000 attendees who heard firsthand about Louis-Dreyfus’ time on SNL, a period that the actor doesn’t remember fondly.
“There were plenty of people on the show who were incredibly funny,” said Louis-Dreyfus according to a recap in a release about the event. “I was unbelievably naive and I didn’t really understand how the dynamics of the place worked. It was very sexist, very sexist. People were doing crazy drugs at the time. I was oblivious. I just thought, Oh wow, he’s got a lot of energy.”
Louis-Dreyfus was only 21 when she first appeared on the show in 1982 and remained in the cast for three years, starring alongside Eddie Murphy, Martin Short, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest and Jim Belushi. The actor remembers rampant drug use, something she didn’t participate in. “I don’t know how anybody could work stoned … It was a pretty brutal time, but it was a very informative time for me.”
Although her time on SNL wasn’t as fulfilling as later roles, Louis-Dreyfus said that she took an important lesson away from the experience that helped to shape the rest of her career. “I learned I wasn’t going to do anymore of this show-business crap unless it was fun,” said Louis-Dreyfus, who has since returned to host three times and noted that the environment has changed for the better. “It is important, it’s so basic, but I just thought, I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to walk and crawl through this kind of nasty glass if it’s not ultimately going to be fulfilling, and so that’s how I sort of moved forward from that moment. I sort of applied the fun-meter to every job I’ve had since and that has been very helpful.”
Louis-Dreyfus, who recently ended her hugely successful six-time-Emmy winning run as Selina Meyers on seven seasons of Veep, also told the crowd that she’s thankfully cancer free. The final season of Veep was delayed after the actor revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The comedian told Colbert and the crowd at this weekend’s event that she’s been through chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, but managed to even find the fun in cancer, noting that she was delighted to see her breasts following reconstruction surgery. “Of course, I’m joking, but I nursed two boys for a really long time. Say no more.”