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13 Quick Questions for Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Award-winning actress shares the wisdom of unforgettable women

spinner image julia louis-dreyfus in black lace dress against light blue background
Dominik Bindl/WireImage/Getty Images

On her new podcast, Wiser Than Me, Julia Louis-Dreyfus asks influential women over age 70 — including actress Jane Fonda, comedian Carol Burnett, author Fran Lebowitz and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg — to share their life lessons and perspectives on how to live with meaning and purpose. “Older women are less visible in our culture,” says Louis-Dreyfus, 62. “We’re trying to change that narrative.”

Was there a moment that made you want to create this podcast?

Watching that HBO documentary on Jane Fonda [Jane Fonda in Five Acts], I was just so struck by the scope of Jane’s life and everything that she had accomplished. I thought, Wow, we really don’t hear enough from women — older women — and we have so much to learn from them. Then it just dawned on me, Why are we not hearing from them? Culturally, I think people are more inclined to listen to the old wise man as opposed to an older woman.

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How did you decide to focus on women 70 and older?

It’s not a hard and fast rule, but I think because it was just sort of more of an age difference for me [62] to tell you the truth. That was really the driver.

If you were interviewed on the podcast, what wisdom would you offer? 

spinner image julia louis-dreyfus wearing yellow sweater, hands under chin, on cover of her podcast that says wiser than me
On her “Wiser Than Me” podcast, Louis-Dreyfus sits down with influential women over 70 to hear their inspiring insights and advice.
Ryan Pfluger and August Image

My first piece of advice would be to listen to my podcast to get the best advice from the most experienced women around. But just off the top of my head, I would say, wear sunscreen.

Any surprises during the interviews you’ve done so far?

What’s surprised me the most is how tender these conversations have become. How tender they are, and I am really struck by the intimacy of these conversations.

What guest has made you laugh the most?

Well, Fran Lebowitz is incredibly hilarious, of course. But … there was humor in every one of these conversations, for real.

With your prolific career, your two grown sons [now in their 20s and 30s] had a strong female role model. Do you ever feel unheard?

No, I don’t, personally. But I like the idea of raising these women up so that my sons can witness that. I think it’s a powerful message. But I will say, to their credit, they are thoughtful human beings who have older grandparents, which is a blessing. And they have incredible respect for the older women in their lives. That I will say confidently.

When you look back on your many acting roles, is there a favorite that stands out?

It’s been such a journey with all the various jobs that I’ve had. … I have enormous gratitude and love in my heart for all of these gigs. … And so to single one out over another … each gig led to the next, and without one I couldn’t have gotten to the other. For example, I could never have played [Veep character] Selina Meyer when I was younger. So there is great value in having a lot of experience under my belt as a human being that I could bring to bear when working on Veep.

What do you think your Seinfeld character, Elaine Benes, would be up to now?

Well, she might still be in jail. So who knows?

spinner image michael richards as cosmo kramer, jason alexander as george costanza, julia louis-dreyfus as elaine benes, jerry seinfeld as jerry seinfeld
Louis-Dreyfus' breakthrough role came in 1989 when she began a nine-season run playing Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld.”
Andrew Eccles/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Your husband Brad Hall, is also an actor and comedian. Who’s funnier, you or Brad?

I think we both bring our share of humor to any situation.

You two have been married for almost 36 years. What are your secrets to a successful marriage?

I have been married a long time, and I would say — speaking for myself — patience, kindness and generosity are sort of the big headliners in terms of relationships and having a healthy marriage. But that would apply to any kind of close relationship, right?

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When did you start feeling that, as a woman, age was something you needed to think about?

I think it’s something I’ve always been conscious of. I don’t remember not thinking about it to a certain extent. There’s a lot of ageism, obviously, in Hollywood, and particularly geared towards women. But luckily for me, I’ve worked in many decades of my life. But I’m keenly aware of that fact.

As you’ve hit your 60s, is there something that’s changed for you?

Actually, to be honest with you, knock wood, not much has changed. It’s just a number. Not much has changed for me physically or mentally at this stage.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

I would say, trust your instincts, wear sunscreen — like I said — and sit up straight.

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