Some people don’t know how to say “Thank you.” But Julia Louis-Dreyfus does.
The actress has won so many Emmys — eight for acting, to tie with Cloris Leachman for most ever by a performer, a tie she may break at Sunday night’s ceremony — she could be excused if she sleep-talked her way through her acceptance speeches. Instead, Louis-Dreyfus has made the televised thank-you an art in itself. Here are all her Emmy victory speeches (so far).
After four previous nominations, Louis-Dreyfus finally won in the supporting category for “Seinfeld.” A bit flustered, she said, “A lot of people say that our show is about nothing. But of course it’s been about plenty of something for me.”
Since the 1998 end of “Seinfeld,” media wags had enjoyed writing about a “Seinfeld curse,” wondering if the show’s stars would ever again achieve major success. Then, on the occasion of her eighth nomination — 10 years after her maiden victory — Louis-Dreyfus won her second Emmy, this time in lead actress, for “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” “I’m not somebody who really believes in curses,” she said, hoisting the trophy: “But curse this!”
Six years later, Louis-Dreyfus won her third Emmy, her first for “Veep.” On her way up to the podium, she hugged Amy Poehler (nominated for NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”), then read from a crumpled piece of paper, in a heartfelt fluster, “I’m a bit overwhelmed, oh my God. First of all, I’d like to thank NBC, ‘Parks and Rec,’ my beautiful boys, Archie and Abel … um …”
The feed cut to a “confused” Poehler in the audience, holding another crumpled piece of paper. Poehler ran to the stage and they exchanged speeches. Louis-Dreyfus went on to deliver her actual speech (without reading). She closed by saying, “There’s a last thing written here: ‘Lastly, isn’t it a shame that Amy Poehler didn’t win?’ What?”
The feed cut back to Poehler, with a pencil, nodding.
The next year, Louis-Dreyfus executed another gag — this time with Tony Hale, who rushed onstage to hold her purse and stand behind her during her speech, an echo of the toady character he played on their show, “Veep.” She then delivered an obviously scripted, Selina Meyer-inspired speech, with moments of faux breathlessness, to which Hale nodded and smiled in support.
She thanked HBO, creator Armando Iannucci, and the show’s producers — then seemed to forget who else to mention, until Hale leaned in to whisper in her ear and she named her husband and children. Hale then audibly nudged her, “You love them so much,” to which Louis-Dreyfus added, “And I love them so much.”
Louis-Dreyfus’ most elaborate acceptance-speech gag was set up by her appearance earlier in the show to present the award for lead comedy actor with Bryan Cranston. Before announcing the nominees, she praised his work on “Breaking Bad,” saying that while watching it, she thought he looked just like another actor who played a dentist on “Seinfeld” — her love interest in the episode.
“That was me,” he said.
She then laughed at his “joke” and started reading the nominees. Before she announced the winner, an indignant Cranston insisted, “We had a kissing scene,” to which she gave a hilariously dismissive shrug.
Later in the show, as she was announced the winner in her category and began her walk to the stage, she was intercepted by Cranston, who planted a passionate kiss on her, requiring host Jimmy Fallon to remove him. A slightly dazed Louis-Dreyfus said at the podium, “Yeah … he was on ‘Seinfeld.’ ”
The feed then cut to Cranston in the audience, giving his lips an “I told you so” wipe with his fingers.
Louis-Dreyfus began the following year’s speech by proclaiming, “I think it would be appropriate at this moment to quote our political satire, ‘Veep’: ‘What a great honor it must be for you to honor me tonight.’” Her face fell as she read on: “Oh wait, oh God. Oh no no, I’m so sorry. Donald Trump said that, I’m sorry.”
After thanking the usual suspects, she praised the women in her category: “I love powerful, funny women,” she said, as the feed cut to Poehler in hoodie and sunglasses, apparently sleeping. “Amy, wake up!”
Fewer than two months before the election of President Donald Trump, Louis-Dreyfus read a speech full of apologies (starting with one to the show’s crew, for working “unforgivable” hours).
“While I’m apologizing, I’d also like to take this opportunity to personally apologize for the current political climate,” she joked. “I think that ‘Veep’ has torn down the wall between comedy and politics. Our show started out as a political satire, but it now feels more like a sobering documentary. So I certainly do promise to rebuild that wall, and make Mexico pay for it.”
After the crowd laughed, she dedicated the award to her father, who had died just days before. Choking up, her hands shaking, she said, “I’m so glad that he liked ‘Veep,’ because his opinion was the one that really mattered.”
Louis-Dreyfus’ sixth consecutive win for “Veep” set the record for most by a performer in the same role, in the same series. She started with the usual list of thanks, including one to her “boyfriend,” Brad Hall. She then teased the series’ upcoming final season — later delayed so she could receive treatment for breast cancer, which she learned of the day after the ceremony. “We did have a whole story line about an impeachment, but we abandoned that because we were worried that someone else might get to it first,” she said, to cheers. “This is, and it continues to be, the role of a lifetime and an adventure of utter joy.”