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Interview with Timothy Simons

Jonah in doorway

HBO

Is Jonah based on a DC stereotype?

Timothy Simons

I know that Armando and Simon based him on a guy they had met in their travels, but I don't know if he was as terrible as Jonah is. Talking to people in D.C., there's an attitude that whether it's government or it's private sector jobs, every office has a Jonah. I was talking with a congressman's Chief of Staff who said there's a specific Jonah character in D.C. - usually a son of privilege who's been given a job on a campaign and stays on if the person wins. They don't have any skills; they're not good at anything. It just means they have rich parents with a little bit of clout. Of course, then they feel like they got in on their own merit and that they've been doing an amazing job, but the reality is they can't be fired.

HBO

In this episode, Jonah spends the whole day walking around, trying to look busy and important, but he's really getting frozen out by Kent.

Timothy Simons

One of our consultants explained that early in his career he'd get all of his work done in two hours so he could spend the rest of the day wandering around hoping to make contact higher up in the government. That's actually a thing. What's happening here is kind of left up in the air - Jonah's likely getting frozen out but he's probably got a little bit of work to do. If people knew, they'd give him more work and he wouldn't have time to suck up to people like Kent.

HBO

Speaking of sucking up, does Jonah have a thing for the Veep or is he just a kiss-ass?

Timothy Simons

I think in Jonah's f****** warped mind, he thinks that Selina has an unspoken respect for him and he probably has a chance with her because he's a young up and comer, like Dan Egan. [Laughs] I love that Jonah thinks he's cut from the same cloth as Dan - that he's smooth and good-looking, and that is NOT the case. So I don't think it he's kissing ass, he actually believes he has a chance.

HBO

Jonah's had a few humiliating experiences thus far this season. Is getting thrown off Air Force Two more humiliating than having to block a pig ass at a North Carolina pig pickin'?

Timothy Simons

Yeah, absolutely. A vice presidential visit to a small rural town will get a little bit of coverage, but that's something he can spin, like "I helped save the Florida vote." But there's no way he can spin getting kicked off Air Force Two. In the few hours he had to pack before he left, he was bragging about it to everybody - how he was going to Helsinki, that he's an integral part of the West Wing and the communication between nations. If he has to admit to the rest of the office that he got kicked off, he'll be a laughing stock.

HBO

How do you get into character? Is there a prop that helps get you into Jonah's frame of mind?

Timothy Simons

I would say his White House badge. Even though you're not supposed to wear it outside of the White House, I've chosen to wear it in all but one scene in two seasons. For him, if he's out and someone spots it and says, "Oh my god, you work at the White House?" he gets to say, "Oh yeah, I shouldn't be wearing this, I totally forgot I had it on...but yes, I do work for the White House and I'm very close to the president." It opens up that conversation.

HBO

There was a deleted scene that revealed Jonah's entry in Sue's Veeplopedia - "Jonah Ryan: There's something wrong with him." How do you think he felt about that?

Timothy Simons

I think he was probably surprised at the entry, but I don't think he would ever take it to heart. He would say, "Well there's nothing wrong with me. What's wrong here is that there isn't a much longer file about my contributions to this office." He would expect it to list his professionalism and work contributions first, and then there'd be a short paragraph at the end about his attractiveness and his magnetic sexuality.

Think Fast

 

If I were President, my pet cause would be: Getting Congress to do any goddamn thing ever. I don't give a shit what it is.

What's in my Leviathan: I don't go anywhere without my laptop, a little notebook, and because I'm slightly hearing impaired, I always have hearing aid batteries on me.

_________ was the worst job I ever had: Bouncer at the bro-iest, douche-iest, frat-iest, sports/country music bar in Chicago. I got paid seven dollars an hour. And this was recent enough that if I went in there, I might still know somebody. The reason I could bounce there - despite being a guy that weighs ten pounds - was because they wouldn't pay for real bouncers. They just paid 40 guys seven dollars an hour and if there was a fight, you'd get 'em in numbers.

My first car was: A 1984 Volvo 240 DL. I think I bought it for $700 and it had 225,000 miles on it and I put on another 50,000. I still miss it. In fact, I'm getting a little bit sad thinking about it.

My most embarrassing moment was: With Michael Phelps at a coffee shop in Baltimore. I acted like a school child around him - my voice went high pitched and I said, "Oh my god, are you Michael Phelps?!" And then I said, "Congratulations" - for what? For being in a coffee shop? For being an Olympic medalist? It was just terrible.

I'd want my real-life Veeplopedia entry to say: "Good cast mate, really talented, great to have a beer with."

 

12: The Vic Allen Dinner

Season 2