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Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Master of 'The Shove'

Actress talks about her life, her career, and her bout with cancer in the 'New Yorker'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2018 9:30 AM CST
Julia Louis-Dreyfus arrives at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 21st Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Oct. 21, 2018, in Washington, DC.   (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

(Newser) Seinfeld fans know it well: "the shove," as practiced by Elaine, when she puts both hands on the chest of a man and yells something like "Shut up!" as she shoves him backward. In a profile of Julius Louis-Dreyfus, the New Yorker notes that Louis-Dreyfus brought the move to her character, but it reveals that she'd already been using it for years, going back to her days as a female member of a male-centric comedy troupe at Northwestern. "The way that she would shove guys—that's the way she had to treat us," says Paul Barrosse, who as a senior cast the freshman Dreyfus in her first show. Barrosse would play another pivotal role in her life, introducing Louis-Dreyfus to his roommate, Brad Hall. They've been married now for 31 years. (Louis-Dreyfus, now 57, says she knew immediately that "this was the guy for me.")

The profile tracks Louis-Dreyfus' career, from her unsatisfying stint on SNL, to bit roles in TV and movies, to a fateful call about some new show called The Seinfeld Chronicles, to her current Veep. She also discusses her businessman father's wealth ("greatly exaggerated in the press"), her younger sister's unexpected death in August, and her own breast cancer. She says she never let herself succumb to an "am I gonna be dead tomorrow" mentality: "Don't misunderstand: I was to-my-bones terrified. But I didn't let myself—except for a couple of moments—go to a really dark place. I didn't allow it." As for the famous shove, it came up when Louis-Dreyfus recently was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for humor. "The shove changed my life!" said Broad City co-star Ilana Glazer. "Without JLD, there'd be no us," added co-star Abbi Jacobson. Click to read the full profile. (Read more Julia Louis-Dreyfus stories.)

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