Come September 27, original Dear Evan Hansen stars Laura Dreyfuss and Ben Platt are back together again—this time on the small screen in Ryan Murphy’s highly anticipated series The Politician. While Platt’s leading man Payton may contain some notes of Evan Hansen, there isn’t a trace of Dreyfuss’ Zoey Murphy in sight.
Dreyfuss' McAfee is a cutthroat political operative. She and Payton are classmates at an L.A. high school that puts the privilege and wealth of Gossip Girl’s Upper East Siders to shame. Payton is in a contentious race for student body president—which is a lot more serious than it sounds. (It’s all part of a master life plan for Payton to become President of the United States.) McAfee is one of Payton’s two campaign managers and a major strategist. But as the campaign turns into a bloody battle, the ethics of everyone involved come into question.
Here, Dreyfuss reveals her favorite day on set, what it was like to work with Bette Midler, and why she loved the chance to reunite with Platt.
I see a lot of parallels between The Politician and Dear Evan Hansen. Were you surprised by that?
Laura Dreyfuss: Yes and no. I think the question of authenticity is always going to be relevant. Ultimately, we are all trying to connect and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to do that. Both shows are examining society during a time when our connectivity is being challenged. I love that both shows ask similar questions.
Your character is so different from Zoey, she’s much more of a player. What do you most relish about playing a character like her?
I love that she takes up space. She never apologizes for who she is and she’s usually the smartest person in the room.
What was it like to navigate the tone of the show that balances this over-the-top satire with heavy realism? Did it come organically?
Everything will always be rooted in truth, but it’s fun to play with the lens. The comedic colors of this show are so unique and fun. It’s really exciting to dip in. Ryan always made the world super specific, so it felt really natural to just live in it.
You get to wear some incredible clothes. What was it like to get to play with wardrobe and work with costume designer Claire Parkinson?
It was so fun. I learned so much about how fashion can influence an mood. It’s so expressive. Discovering McAfee’s style was a pleasure. It brought such a level of cool that was really fun to play with.
What was it like reuniting with Ben but playing such completely different characters from Zoey and Evan?
It felt so safe. We know each other so well and it really helps to have that calming resource on set. It’s nice not to be lied to eight times a week.
What was the most fun you had on set?
One of our assistants, Carlos, used to be a fashion agent and he spent a day on set telling us the most incredible stories and taught us how to runway walk.
You had some incredible guest stars, like Bette Midler and Judith Light and Jessica Lange. Can you share a story from the set that encapsulates what it was like to work with them?
The day I did a scene with Bette Midler was her first day on set. Everyone was a mess. The camera guys, hair and makeup, everyone. We kept looking around at one another and mouthing, “It’s Bette Midler!” These women are legends. I can’t believe we got to work with them.
What are you most excited for people to see and experience with The Politician?
I’m excited for people to be introduced to a really fun type of comedy. I think it will inspire a lot of thought and I’m interested to see that impact. I hope people laugh and simultaneously want to change the world.
What conversation do you hope gets started by this?
I hope people start asking themselves and the people around them what they can do for the world. I hope it inspires positive change and makes people want to be better.