Julia Louis-Dreyfus on her cancer: It’s so personal I would have preferred it be private

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a good interview in Vanity Fair for their Emmys issue. I love the photo they used, it’s just stunning. All the photos are amazing, you can see them here. The interview talked Julia’s work ethic, the last season of VEEP and Julia’s acting chops, It also addressed her battle with cancer, including her decision to take it public. Julia and husband Brad Hall are mostly private about their personal life, but they aren’t completely closed off. We get small glimpses, but not much. So it was a little surprising that Julia went public with her cancer diagnosis when she did. She chose to go public because US healthcare was being dismantled and she realized she could use her situation to help support healthcare for everyone, while also bringing more awareness to cancer research. What she was not prepared for was the overwhelming response she got for doing so.

While Louis-Dreyfus was relieved that she could somewhat control the messaging and use her bully pulpit to talk about the inequities of our current health care system, she didn’t anticipate just how intense the reaction would be. The Northwestern basketball team dedicated a fund-raiser to her. Veep cast members posted Twitter videos on chemo days. Even Hillary Clinton, whom Louis-Dreyfus has never met, posted well wishes. In total, her message generated 23,000 comments, mostly from strangers.

“In many ways it was very nice to get the support from the outside world,” she says. “Having said that, I didn’t consider that it would’ve taken on a life of its own, which it did. It’s such a personal thing that I never would have put anything like that out there if I hadn’t had to.”

In her own home, she was a woman fighting a terrifying disease. But for the last 30 years, Louis-Dreyfus has been a weekly fixture in our homes via multiple, very watchable and rewatchable television series. She is as close to a constant in TV as there is. And so out in the world, she was being cast as some kind of modern-day folk hero, our stalwart entertainer fashioned into a cancer warrior. The New Yorker profiled her. Time magazine made her a cover story. She was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. “Even perfect people get cancer,” says Nicole Holofcener, the writer-director who directed Louis-Dreyfus in 2013’s Enough Said. “And then we realize they are not perfect, they are human beings. I think she did us all a favor with that.”

[From Vanity Fair]

By way of example of how helpful Julia was for tweeting her diagnosis, the author of the article reveals that she, too, was diagnosed with cancer a few months after Julia and she tells Julia what it meant to her to have her tweets et al to read over while she was dealing with it. We often speak about how much it means to have celebrities bring up important subjects, but I think it’s easy to forget how hard it might be for them to do so. I also love Nicole Holofcener’s quote about Julia doing us a favor by telling us she’s not perfect. I hope hearing how many people she’s helped let Julia know she made the right decision.

The last part of the article discussed Julia’s future plans. She’ll appear in Downhill with fellow SNL alum Will Ferrell. I’d missed they were doing this, but I can’t wait to see them together. As I said, the last season of VEEP was discussed, I cannot emphasize enough how good I thought it was. And that’s not my sycophant nature speaking, it was really that amazing. The final episode was so good, I feel like I should speak about it in hushed tones. Fortunately, as stated in the article, Julia has no designs on retiring, but she is selective about her material. It just has to be *that* good. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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Photo credit: Jason Bell/Vanity Fair, Instagram and WENN Photos

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