Julia Louis-Dreyfus says she told ‘bullying’ Warner Bros. executives to ‘f*** off’ when they threatened to sue her earlier in her career
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has opened up about professional challenges she dealt with as a fledgling actress earlier in her career, at one point facing legal threats from Warner Bros. executives.
The actress, 62, appearing on the Podcrushed podcast Wednesday, said that the studio tried to take a hard tack with her around the late 80s, during a timeframe between her work on the shows Day by Day and Seinfeld.
The Manhattan native said execs threatened to sue her over a development deal she had with Warner Bros. when she was sent the material for Larry David’s The Seinfeld Chronicles, which would later become Seinfeld.
Louis-Dreyfus said that her deal had ‘a creative out based on the material that was being developed,’ which paved her way to play Elaine Benes on the iconic comedy.
Louis-Dreyfus said, ‘I was really scared because it was Warner Bros. and I was just this girl who was an actress. I felt very small – because I was.’
The latest: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 62, has opened up about professional challenges she dealt with as a fledgling actress earlier in her career, at one point facing legal threats from Warner Bros. executives. Pictured last month in NYC
The Emmy-winning star said that she ‘did bow out’ of the development deal – which was allowed under the terms of the contract – but faced legal threats from studio execs trying to recoup the money she’d been paid.
‘I had representatives who were saying to me, “You better just give them their money back – give them their money back.”
‘And I said, “But if I give them the development money back, won’t that imply that I did something dishonest? That I broke the contract?” And they were like, “Just do it, just to get rid of the problem.”‘
Louis-Dreyfus said she felt she was being misled by her reps – ‘It didn’t sit well with me,’ she said of their advice – and contacted Day by Day creator Gary Goldberg for advice on how to proceed.
‘He was a huge force at NBC and in television specifically, and I called him and told him this story,’ she said of the late Goldberg, who had also created the 80s hit Family Ties.
Louis-Dreyfus said Goldberg told her, ‘You know what? I don’t respond well to bullying so just tell them to f*** off and don’t give them their money back.’
The Veep star said she was empowered after following Goldberg’s advice.
Louis-Dreyfus played Elaine Benes on the iconic comedy Seinfeld alongside Jerry Seinfeld from 1990-1998
Louis-Dreyfus said that Warner Bros. had tried to strongarm her into paying back money on a developmental deal that she didn’t owe. Pictured last month in NYC
‘It really emboldened me to stand up for myself, and so, that’s what I did,’ she said. ‘And they just went away, that was the end of it … that was a seminal moment for me when he said that. Because it was bullying by the way.’
Prior to her career breakthrough on Seinfeld, Louis-Dreyfus had appeared on Saturday Night Live and in the films Hannah and Her Sisters, Soul Man and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
She played the role of Eileen Swift on 33 episodes of Day by Day from 1988-1989. The series also starred Courtney Thorne-Smith, Thora Birch, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Linda Kelsey, and Doug Sheehan.
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