There’s a reason Veep didn’t put Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) back in the White House this season, and it has everything to do with the show wanting to distance itself from Donald Trump. But when it comes to Canadian politics, it seems like series star Timothy Simons, who plays the newly elected Jonah Ryan, is just as adamant about staying away.
“Jonah would never stand next to Justin Trudeau; he’s too good-looking,” Simons tells us. “It would make Jonah feel bad. He’d be like, ‘I’m not standing there because everybody knows he’s a nine and it would make me look like a three. I’m unattractive next to him so I’m not going to meet with him.'”
Simons, who was recently promoting Veep‘s fifth-season release on DVD and Blu-ray, says Jonah has bigger fish to fry this season anyhow. Such as continuing the crusade against healthy school lunches, and growing his hair back, now that he’s given up pretending to still be in remission from cancer. Personally, we’re still getting over the shock of seeing a bald Jonah in the season premiere — especially since Simons secretly shaved his head in real-life to bolster the joke.
“I thought it would be funny and unexpected; it was kind of fun to hide it and I think we did a good job of keeping the surprise,” he says, noting that his hair grew back like “a werewolf,” and production had to keep shaving it back down to keep up with the show’s timeline. “So I didn’t really have a lot of qualms about it. It was a fun thing to do, and a fun thing to try, and I knew the reveal would be really funny.”
Looks aside, as Jonah settles into his new political gig and tries to figure out what that means for him personally, Simons reveals that he’s continuing to base his character on real-life personality Ted Cruz, a.k.a. the most “universally disliked” politician around.
“He’s just charmless and universally disliked, but he has somehow failed upward into this odd position of power that nobody wants him to have,” Simons explains. “He has a voter pool that for some reason finds him to be interesting, and they can’t ignore him. If Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz, who are just two personality devoid, universally loathed individuals, managed to win elections then it’s completely realistic that Jonah would. Ted Cruz’s very existence means I didn’t need to be convinced that Jonah could win.”
Perhaps Jonah is slightly more liked than Cruz and Ryan, but at the end of the day even Simons admits there’s not a lot to actually root for when it comes to his character, despite Veep being full of oddball, not-exactly-likeable characters. In fact, the best he can come up with in terms of why we maybe should give Jonah a chance, is the mere fact that he can get out of bed each morning and think that he’s killing it.
“He has a sort of boundless positivity,” he says. “That would be the only thing, because no matter what Jonah might do to make you feel some sort of sympathy or human empathy towards him, he’ll always make you pay for that. You will immediately pay for having a sympathetic reaction to him.”
Okay so maybe we won’t love Jonah as a character in the near future, but we do love how he makes us laugh. Especially when it comes to his showdowns with Dan (Reid Scott), his deluded self-confidence with the ladies, and the way he actually managed to find something of a friendship with Richard (Sam Richardson), even though he’s never treated Richard like anything other than garbage. Plus, who could forget Jonah’s infamous axe skills during his fifth-season, fictional election campaign?
Speaking of, we couldn’t help but wonder who Simons thought would win in a chop-off: Jonah, or Ted Cruz?
“A hundred per cent Jonah. A hundred per cent. And he is an abject failure at chopping wood, so that should tell you about how good I think Ted Cruz would be at it.”
Well, say what you want about Simon, but one thing’s for sure — he certainly doesn’t hold back. And that makes us think that maybe, just maybe, a teensy bit of Jonah has rubbed off on him after all.
Then again, maybe not.
“It’s fun to play somebody who is not bound by any common rules of decorum or human decency,” Simons admits. “But I don’t think people should act like him. There is something really fun in being able to ignore, even momentarily, any sense of reasonable human behaviours. That’s fun. That’s a fun thing that we absolutely should not do in regular everyday lives, but to pretend to do it is a good time.”