Warning: This article contains spoilers about season 1 of The Politician.
Ben Platt and Laura Dreyfuss didn’t realize they would be working together again so soon after playing love interests in the Tony Award-winning Dear Evan Hansen. The fact that they ended up cast opposite each other in Netflix’s The Politician is a complete coincidence.
“That was the craziest thing,” says Dreyfuss, who plays McAfee, the friend and campaign manager to Platt’s Payton. “And I remember, obviously, we were texting while I was auditioning because I was like, ‘Could you imagine?’ And he was like, ‘I can’t! That’s too much for my mind to handle.’”
EW talked to Dreyfuss about the reunion, her moment with Bette Midler, and her memory of the final season of Glee.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Are you and Ben going to be the new Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and just keep doing projects together?
LAURA DREYFUSS: We actually joked about that, I think, at Second Stage with Dear Evan Hansen. We were like, “Can we just always play opposite each other?” Which, obviously, wouldn’t be a bad dream.
I heard you all hung out a ton before shooting. Is that true?
Ben is such an incredible leader. Basically, none of us were L.A. locals except for your Zoey Deutch and Ben Barrett, so he basically took the lead and arranged for us all to go hang out at his family’s beach house. And then we ended up going to Disneyland together. It was amazing because we’re not all in the same scenes with each other. So we don’t really get to interact with one another very often on set, and the best days are the days when we’re there together. It was amazing to have that time to be with everyone and just have that bonding experience. But Ben really did an amazing job of making that happen.
McAfee’s suits are so cool. Did you have input on her outfits?
Yeah! Most of it is the amazing genius of Claire and Lily Parkinson. They’re sisters. Yeah, they approached me with these mood boards of what they were thinking, which were these incredible ’70s power suits. And I was like, “This is me. I’m in.” It also completely changed the way I viewed the character because she’s just so dry and so in her brain, but then when you add this really cool suit, all of a sudden she’s laid back about it. Claire described McAfee’s style as Gloria Steinem meets David Bowie.
You have a lot of big speeches that you have to deliver lightning-fast, like the one when you first tell Payton you have doubts about Infinity [Deutch]. Were those hard to do?
Definitely challenging. I’ve always had a knack for memorization, but that’s on another level. I think, obviously, theater helps because I will never walk into a room and be unprepared because that’s just ingrained in me. But it actually really helped because I did that scene for the audition, so I already knew it. And it just really helped to be able to come in and already feel somewhat confident.
McAfee is so loyal to Payton. Why do you think she follows him so blindly?
Well, it’s funny. I think she does see his flaws. I think she does see where he falls short, but she’s also so strategic that she’s able to see around all of that and she’s able to see where he can go and how he can get there. And I think she sees this spark in him, and she sees this thing that lights him up that is very rare. It’s very rare to meet somebody who’s so driven by something. I don’t know what it is, but it’s there. She just believes in that. He’s obviously intelligent and has all the capabilities of being a leader, and he believes in himself, more importantly. So I think that that is probably what makes her, yeah, get behind him.
You’re one of the few cast members who has a scene with Bette Midler in the season finale. What was that like?
Honestly, I had a complete out-of-body experience, and it was amazing to be sitting in the chair opposite her and trying to remind myself my main goal is to tell the story here. That was incredible. Everyone lost their cool that day. I mean, how can you not?
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the premiere of Glee, also created by the Politician team of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan. You were on the final season. Do you have a favorite memory of that experience?
Yeah, honestly, I think it was the last day of filming. It was when Matthew Morrison was singing to everyone in the choir room for the last time. It was a really beautiful day on set, and since I had just joined for the last season, I was just able to be a fly on the wall and witness these people say goodbye to these characters that they’ve been living with for six years and have created. And there was just such an incredible journey for that show and what it did for, I don’t know, pop culture. It’s such a part of this zeitgeist, so there’s just a lot there. And that was really amazing. That was honestly a privilege to be there for because it was such an iconic show, and I remember watching TV and seeing the choir room and then being in the choir. That is really, really special.
The Politician is currently streaming on Netflix.