Funny Business: Zach Woods Talks VEEP, SILICON VALLEY and PLAYING HOUSE


Zach Woods look familiar? That’s probably because you’ve seen him on one of your favorite comedies all throughout this year. Whether it’s on VEEP, SILICON VALLEY, THE OFFICE, or PLAYING HOUSE, Zach is everywhere and he’s always making us laugh. I spoke with Zach about his latest role on PLAYING HOUSE, last weeks SILICON VALLEY episode, and which character his personality is most like.

You’re on so many great shows right now, VEEP, SILICON VALLEY, and PLAYING HOUSE. How is it acting on such incredible and hilarious shows?
Zach Woods: It’s peculiar, I feel slightly incredulous about it that I get to work on all these cool shows. I feel super lucky and a lot of them are with people that are my friends too like Lennon (Parham) and Jess (St.Clair) from PLAYING HOUSE. Lennon and I were in our first improv team together so I’ve known her for like twelve years. A lot of the guys on SILICON VALLEY I’ve known in one way or another for a few years. So it’s with people I really like too! I’m waiting for the inevitable… I feel like something horrendous is going to happen to me like someone is going to inject a syringe of mrsa into my neck or something to just balance the scales of fortune.

You said you worked with Lennon before, how was shooting the poetry slam scene in PLAYING HOUSE?
There would be episodes where we would improvise a lot. I’ll tell you a dirty little secret, which is that I’m very, very anxious and I don’t love watching myself. It takes me a long time to or if I ever do watch the episode, the few that I’m in. So I don’t know what they used because I haven’t watched that yet cause it makes me nervous. We improvised a lot, they also wrote a bunch of hilarious stuff and I’m sure it’s a combination of the two.

What’s to come in the rest of the season? What will we see in tonight’s episode?
I’m not sure, I didn’t do every episode I just did four. The show itself is a really great show. I thought the stories were really great so I don’t know what’s coming but I’m sure it will be scrumptious.

On VEEP we’ve seen Amy (Anna Chlumsky) and Ed sort of together. Will we see them together some more this season?
No that’s it for this season I think. I love doing VEEP though! My first job I ever had was with Armando Iannucci the guy who created VEEP and Anna Chlumsky in a movie called “In The Loop.” All of those writers and a lot of the same people involved in VEEP worked on that film. Whenever I get to work with those guys it kind of feels like a nice reunion.

VEEP was renewed for another season. What would you like to see Ed do on the show next season?
Oh man, I know. If they have anything in mind for Ed I would be excited to do it. The thing I like about playing Ed is he’s a bit of a pressure cooker with the heat. I mean I’ve only done a couple of episodes but I feel like if he gets filled up with a certain amount of humiliation or abuse then eventually he’s going to sort of explode towards Jonah (Timothy Simons).

Do you guy’s improv on the show?
Yes, definitely a lot of improv. When I shot “In The Loop” we improvised for like twenty minute takes and then they would cut it up and use what they liked in addition to the scripted stuff. VEEP has the most incredible writing; it’s a really well written show. It’s great and has such great jokes. It’s interesting; VEEP is like a show where the writing is better than many other shows but also the least precious about it. So it’s a really nice combination, on VEEP they have these artfully constructed jokes and they are like “oh you should put in your voice, do what you want.” So they are pretty remarkable, the writer’s n that show are really geniuses. And SILICON VALLEY is the same thing I mean I think the writing on that show is so, so incredible and same thing they let you put it in your voice. It’s a nice thing when you’re improvising, sometimes people will tell you to try and fill a hole like they are missing something, so they need you to improvise in order to correct whatever it is that’s been overlooked. And than there are shows where they’ve got more than what they need and you’re improvising as sort of to add more flavor and to give them more options and sort of embellish what they have and they can use it or not use it, and that’s what you get on SILICON VALLEY and VEEP. Where you’re doing it and it’s like you’re doing something to find what they like but there isn’t the pressure of figuring out how this show is funny in your improv.

For SILICON VALLEY last week we left off where Jared is in a crate. What was your initial reaction when you read that in the script?
Oh I loved it! Initially it was actually a different storyline. Initially it was supposed to be me and Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) but he died while we were shooting and they had to rewrite it because it was supposed to be with the two of us. Obviously not because of the story or anything connected to the show it was just terribly sad in a human being way because he was a phenomenally talented actor and a really kind person by all accounts. To work with someone so talented and also so humble, such a team player, and such a wonderful guy. I was just so excited to hang out with him, I was super excited to get to do scenes with him because he’s such a force of nature. Also I was excited because the way it works is if you have a script that puts your characters together than the actors get to hang out together, so I was really excited to sort of act opposite him and hang out with him and then unfortunately he died. So that was horrible, but the thing with the driverless car, which I thought, was remarkable. They had to really put that together quickly and I thought in terms of the writing, I was very impressed. These guys are so adaptable. Also in terms of when I got the script I was excited and a little intimidated because it was just me and this car, I’ve never done a storyline where it’s basically just me interacting with a robot. It’s a weird thing; you’re acting by yourself. Shooting it was weird, I would just be in like a shipping container in the dark, there would be a camera there but it was a very strange experience. Normally when you’re shooting you’ll know how it’s going from the other actors, you’ll feel connected to the other actors, there’s heat between you and the other actors, you’re having fun, you’re improvising. But when you’re just in a car in the dark by yourself it sort of distorts reality, it creates a weird uncanny effect where you’re like “I have no idea what this is gonna look like.” But I saw some of the graphics too and I was really impressed with that, I think DP on the show is so amazing and the visual effects people are so good, so that was cool.

So I just have one more question for you. Out of the three characters you’re currently playing which one is most like your personality?
That’s very interesting, no ones every asked me that. I don’t know, I would like to think it would be Jared but I don’t know. I think Jared is the one I feel the most affection for. I think Jared is a sweeter person than I am in life. I feel like he’s more self-sacrificing and he’s more oriented towards the good of other people and the group. The one I feel most affectionately towards is maybe Jared. The character Zach on PLAYING HOUSE, Lennon and Jess took quirks and weird things about me and just amplified them. Maybe he’s the one that’s most similar, I actually play the trumpet I’m probably more similar to that character than I like to believe. I guess I have to say Jared, I don’t think it’s Ed because I don’t think I would feel as comfortable being as hostile as he sometimes gets. Probably Jared!

I highly recommend all three of the shows Zach is currently working on. I think VEEP is the smartest comedy currently on television. It’s just plain brilliant. SILICON VALLEY is hilarious and filled with great tech humor and it’s such a different show than anything else on television right now. PLAYING HOUSE is my favorite new comedy. I truly don’t think I can say enough good things about this adorable and wonderful show. Zach is also such a likable character on all of his shows, he comes off very kind and charming. He’s an incredibly talented actor and he brings a tremendous amount of talent to these three hilarious shows.

You can watch PLAYING HOUSE Tuesdays at 10:00 on USA Network, SILICON VALLEY Sundays at 10:00 and VEEP on Sundays at 10:30 on HBO.

Victoria Nelli loves TV so much that she is paying $30,000 a year to learn about it in College. When she’s not learning about TV she enjoys writing about her favorite shows, interviewing anyone in the industry that will let her, and ranting about how underrated Parks and Recreation is. She is very much aware of her Netflix addiction, and no she will not be seeking help anytime soon. You can follow her on Twitter @VictoriaNelli