HBO's 'Veep' to end with season 7 (Exclusive)

Veep, HBO's acclaimed comedy, Emmy powerhouse and arguably the funniest comedy on television, will end its run with a final seventh season in 2018.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus just called to tell me the news, and I just told her she's killing me. But it's clear that she and fellow executive producer David Mandel thought long and hard about when it would be right to say goodbye — next season? One after that? — and they've let the story dictate a finale they could feel good about.

"It became clear that this season should be the last season," Louis-Dreyfus says. "We don't want to repeat ourselves or wear out our welcome. The story has a finality to it that feels end-of-series."

It wasn't a decision that came easy. "Let's face it, this has been a role of a lifetime," says Louis-Dreyfus, who knows something about good roles, having played Elaine Benes for nine seasons on Seinfeld. She has won a staggering five consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress for Veep and is up for a sixth this year. The show has been nominated for best series six consecutive seasons, winning the last two in a row, as it heads into the upcoming ceremony.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the Emmys
Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series 'Veep' Julia Louis-Dreyfus arrives for the 68th Emmy Awards on September 18, 2016 at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, winner of the Oustanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series award for 'Veep,' poses in the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Press Room at the Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, winner of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for 'Veep,' poses in the press room at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AXN)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus arrives at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, ring detail, arrives at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus poses in the press room with the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for 'Veep' during the 68th Emmy Awards on September 18, 2016 at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. / AFP / FREDERIC J BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts the Oustanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series award for 'Veep' onstage during the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for 'Veep' onstage during the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, winner of Best Actress in a Comedy Series for 'Veep', poses in the press room during the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, winner of Best Actress in a Comedy Series for 'Veep', poses in the press room during the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for 'Veep' onstage during the 68th Emmy Awards show on September 18, 2016 at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. / AFP / Valerie MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Read more: 'Awards Chatter' Podcast — Julia Louis-Dreyfus ('Veep')

Separately, both Louis-Dreyfus and Mandel say that as they mapped out the arc of the seventh season, not repeating themselves and staying true to the often daring twists of the story were paramount. "It was just a very natural thing," Mandel says. "We don't want to repeat ourselves or be boring. It's bittersweet but it's right."

Mandel says all the major players on the show and HBO have kept in the back of their collective minds the notion of when and how to end it. But the series has continued to surprise. Created by Armando Iannucci, Veep started as a show about a presidential hopeful who takes the Vice President position when offered, then it grew to become about her winning the presidency, losing it, wandering in a post-presidential world (last season) and then deciding whether it's a good idea or not to run for president again (as season six wrapped). The show, Mandel notes, was never held back by its title. It was always driven by the story and a fearless sense of going forward. Mandel took over running the show in season five and has, in the last two years, amplified and expanded its greatness, something Louis-Dreyfus is quick to note: "I'm very proud of that fact. Dave hit it out of the park."

Casey Bloys, programming president for HBO, says the channel is behind whatever Louis-Dreyfus, Mandel and the producers want to do but that, coming from the comedy development side before running all of programming, he is also feeling bittersweet: "I developed the show and I love everybody in the cast." Veep and Game of Thrones ending in the same year will put HBO in a position of having to replace two of its cornerstone series.

For her part, Louis-Dreyfus was very thoughtful and open about the process of ending something that clearly means so much to her. And, of course, it wasn't her first time in this position. "I struggled with it," she says. "And then it just hit me. It's hard to say goodbye to such a good thing. We struggled with this at Seinfeld as well."

All previous roles led up to this, Louis-Dreyfus said — you learn something and evolve with each one — but playing Selina Meyer was (and is) the role of a lifetime. "I'm not kidding — I really feel this is my baby and I don't want to mess it up. I would hate to end on a less-than note. That would make me nuts."

Louis-Dreyfus notes there's another full 10-episode season still to shoot and experience, so looking too far into the future isn't something she's considered much. "I'm not retiring, if that's what you're asking," she says. "I love to work." And her character, Selina Meyer, has been a quintessentially great character to manifest. "My favorite go-to thing about her is I like to fall back into Selina's narcissism. It's delightful and it takes many forms."

For his part, Mandel says he and writers have broken all 10 episodes for the final season. Echoing Louis-Dreyfus, there is a finality to Selina's journey. "If we needed five more [episodes], everybody was open to five more." But it never came to that. They found their landing spot. Shooting for the final season will begin Oct. 16: "I'm so fucking excited for what we've got on the board and for fans to see what we've cooked up."

Read more: Julia Louis-Dreyfus on 'Veep' Staying Away From Trump's "Shit Show"

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