Sam Richardson on Playing Washington's Kindest Insider
By Allie Waxman
Unassuming political mastermind and blogger extraordinaire Richard Splett is a breath of fresh air on a team of crass political sharks in Selina Meyer’s entourage. Sam Richardson, who plays the beloved Chief of Staff, shares his take on playing this boundlessly optimistic character.
HBO: How has Richard changed since we first met him?
Sam Richardson: I think he’s grown in capacity, but I don’t think he’s gotten any guile or anything. I think your average person would have grown some guile, learned to put his defenses up around the worst people in the world, but he’s still happily sweet. He hasn’t lost that. He is the most optimistic person in the Veep universe, and all the negativity just flips right off of him.
HBO: Have you learned anything about Richard since you first started playing him?
Sam Richardson: I learn more about him every season. I didn’t know he had a doctorate in veterinary medicine. That was news to me. It’s so fitting. It’s perfect. Every episode there’s a new little facet to Richard. If you took a macro view of it, you’d say “Wow, this guy is kinda like Forest Gump.” He’s been everywhere and been through everything and seen a lot of stuff.
HBO: What was your reaction to Richard becoming Catherine and Marjorie’s sperm donor?
Sam Richardson: I came to visit the writers’ room and they told me that was going to be a storyline. I was like, “Wow! How perfect is that?” I kept thinking, who wouldn’t want him to be the father of their kid? Maybe not for guile and street smarts, but Richard is a really smart dude, he’s very kind. So there’s probably some good stock in there.
HBO: Does Richard get he’s not going to be a father?
Sam Richardson: No, he full-on thinks he is going to be a father. He doesn’t quite get the concept that he’s just a sperm donor and signed away his rights as a parent. He is like, “Oh! I’m a dad now!” You would probably want to keep someone like Richard around at least a little bit.
HBO: Let’s talk about Richard’s relationship with Jonah. Why do they get along and why does Richard put up with him?
Sam Richardson: I think they truly are just best friends. Richard admires Jonah because Jonah is very confident and Richard believes in that confidence. He knows the weaknesses and strengths of Jonah and admires him for them. I think he’s the only character who likes Jonah.
HBO: Do you think Jonah’s insults just go over his head? Or does he not care?
Sam Richardson: I think he has a really thick skin. Because he’s smart, and he realizes somebody’s saying something mean. I think there’s some nursery rhyme he heard as a kid that’s like, “Insults, insults...they don’t mean anything!” Richard also takes things very literally, so if you say something to Richard that’s an insult but clearly not the truth, he’s like “Oh, that’s not the facts.”