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Julia Louis-Dreyfus discusses her movie 'Enough Said' and her HBO series 'Veep'

Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in the romantic comedy 'Enough Said' with James Gandolfini. 'It's not like they're easily plucked from trees, these kinds of really interesting, distinct films with roles for people my age,' Julia Louis-Dreyfus said of Hollywood.

By Jake CoyleAssociated Press / September 19, 2013

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (r.) and Catherine Keener (l.) star in 'Enough Said.'

Lacey Terrell/Fox Searchlight/AP

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At the suggestion that she's the finest comedic actress of her generation, Julia Louis-Dreyfus sighs an expletive.

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The grandness of the statement may make Louis-Dreyfus squirm, but it's worth considering. Think about her, as Elaine Benes on "Seinfeld," swooning over John F. Kennedy Jr. Think about her, as Vice President Selina Meyer on "Veep," strategically finishing a 10k race behind a disabled veteran but before a costumed contestant ("I'm not going to get beaten by a banana!").

Few comediennes have both her gift for physical comedy and vocal precision. In boy worlds as varied as the dating banter of "Seinfeld" and the Beltway politics of "Veep," she's suffered countless indignities, yet always remained feistily combative.

"It's a very joyful way to make a living," Louis-Dreyfus remarked in a recent interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. "I kind of crave it, in a way. But it's fun to make them cry, too."

And with that, she lets out a full-throated laugh – a brilliant, bright cackle that's ruined dozens of otherwise good takes. (If you haven't seen it, look up the outtakes from her police station confrontation with Jerry Stiller's Frank Costanza on "Seinfeld.")

In "Enough Said," which came out Sept. 18, Louis-Dreyfus, transfers her comedic gifts to the big screen and, finally, gets to exercise her tear-inducing chops.

"Enough Said," she joked after the Toronto premiere of the film, is her first dramatic work since doing "The Cherry Orchard" in high school. (She fell into sketch comedy as a college student at Northwestern in Chicago, after which she joined "Saturday Night Live.") It's also, somewhat staggeringly, the first lead role in a feature film for the 52-year-old actress.

"I've spent the bulk of my career doing television and raising two children, who I'm still raising. So the idea of working eight, nine months on a series and then on my break going off to do another project is something I just couldn't work into my life," says Louis-Dreyfus. "So I didn't, much to my agent's chagrin."

In "Enough Said," which was written and directed by Nicole Holofcener ("Please Give," ''Lovely and Amazing"), Louis-Dreyfus plays a divorced Los Angeles masseuse and mother who begins dating the ex-husband (James Gandolfini) of a new friend (Catherine Keener). It's a tender, un-formulaic romantic comedy about the distrustful stage of middle age when romantic opportunities seem like inevitable disappointment and children leave for college.

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