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Julia Louis-Dreyfus: A Guide to the Hilarious Star’s Best Roles + Info on Her Podcast Celebrating the Wisdom of Older Women

From Elaine Benes on 'Seinfeld' to podcast host!

There are few actresses funnier than Julia Louis-Dreyfus. As Elaine on Seinfeld, her sarcastic delivery was always perfectly on-point, and she could even make us laugh without saying a word, thanks to her knack for physical comedy and hilarious facial expressions.

Elaine will always be Louis-Dreyfus’ best-known role (even years after Seinfeld ended, we can still quote many of her best one-liners, and are incapable of flipping past reruns of the show on TV without watching them) but she’s had a variety of other memorable roles as funny and relatable women.

MUST-READ: Cast of ‘Seinfeld’ Then and Now: See What the Hilarious Crew Has Been Up To

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ early roles

Julia Louis-Dreyfus already had comedy credentials before she became Elaine. In college, she began doing improv and at just 21, in 1982, she was chosen for the cast of Saturday Night Live. During this time, SNL was in a turbulent period due to cast turnover and new management following showrunner Lorne Michaels‘ temporary departure.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Eddie Murphy on 'Saturday Night Live,' 1983
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live in 1983Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty

Louis-Dreyfus was in the SNL cast until 1985. While her sketches may not be the best remembered, the show changed the course of her life: Brad Hall, her former classmate at Northwestern University, was also in the cast, and the two comedians got married in 1987 (and remain one of the longest-running celebrity couples!).

Louis-Dreyfus also met future Seinfeld creator Larry David when he was working in the SNL writers’ room. At the end of the decade, he invited her to audition for the role of Elaine, and the rest is history.

Brad Hall and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 1984
Future husband-and-wife Brad Hall and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 1984Robin Platzer/Time & Life Pictures/Getty

After SNL, Louis-Dreyfus began acting in movies, appearing in Troll, Hannah and Her Sisters, Soul Man and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In 1988, Louis-Dreyfus joined the cast of the sitcom Day by Day, playing the stuck-up neighbor of the show’s protagonists. The show was canceled in 1989.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in GQ magazine in 1985
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in GQ magazine in 1985@officialjld/Instagram

Julia Louis-Dreyfus television shows

Seinfeld (1990-1998)

In 1990, Louis-Dreyfus was given the role of a lifetime when she was cast as Elaine on Seinfeld. Elaine added some much-needed feminine energy to Jerry, George and Kramer’s shenanigans, and she was always capable of putting them in their place with a perfectly sarcastic quip or a well-timed shove.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld in a 1993 'Seinfeld' promotional shot
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld in a 1993 Seinfeld promotional shotDavid Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty

In the early days of Seinfeld, Louis-Dreyfus had to push to be featured more and get more lines. “I wanted to just play ball with everybody,” Louis-Dreyfus said, and soon enough she’d break through and become a TV icon. Looking back on Seinfeld, Louis-Dreyfus has said she and her castmates “loved that show more than the people watching it” — which is pretty impressive considering people love the show a lot.

Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander embracing in 1993
Seinfeld stars Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander embrace in a 1993 promo shotDavid Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty

By the time Seinfeld ended in 1998, Elaine was one of the best-loved sitcom characters of all time and her antics — from the “get out!” shove to deeming men “sponge-worthy” to her abysmal dance moves, to name just a few — are unforgettable.

Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a 1997 'Seinfeld' promotional shot
Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a 1997 Seinfeld promo shotHulton Archive/Getty

The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006-2010)

While in Seinfeld, Louis-Dreyfus showed up in a handful of movies, including Jack the Bear, North, Father’s Day and Deconstructing Harry. After the show ended, she starred in a new sitcom created by her husband, Watching Ellie, in 2002. The show was canceled after just 16 episodes. Next, Louis-Dreyfus had a recurring guest role in Arrested Development and played herself in a number of episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus with her Emmy for 'The New Adventures of Old Christine,' 2006
Julia Louis-Dreyfus with her Emmy for The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006)Chris Polk/FilmMagic/Getty

While the failure of Watching Ellie and other shows from former Seinfeld cast members led critics to speculate about a “Seinfeld curse,” Louis-Dreyfus found sitcom success once again in 2006, when she played the title character, a recently divorced mom, in The New Adventures of Old Christine. The show ran until 2010, and Louis-Dreyfus won much praise for her performance.

Veep (2012-2019)

From 2012 to 2019, Louis-Dreyfus starred as vice president-turned-president Selina Meyer in Veep. The popular show expertly captured the absurdity of modern-day politics with its sharp satire, and Louis-Dreyfus won six consecutive Emmy awards for her role.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 'Veep'
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep@veephbo/Instagram

Selina was self-absorbed and opportunistic, which only made her more fun to watch. In a 2021 Variety interview, Louis-Dreyfus said that Selina was the character she missed playing the most, and said the experience of bringing her to life was “just freeing!” since “Everything was about her ego, with not a care in the world for another human being.” Politics have never been funnier, and only Louis-Dreyfus could make such an unlikable character so amusing.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus at a 'Veep' event in 2012
Julia Louis-Dreyfus at a Veep event in 2012D Dipasupil/FilmMagic/Getty

Julia Louis-Dreyfus movies

During Veep‘s run, in 2013, Louis-Dreyfus starred in the rom-com Enough Said, opposite James Gandolfini. The film was praised for its smart dialogue and the chemistry between the two actors, and it took on a new poignancy, as it was released following Gandolfini’s untimely death. Enough Said was written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, who teamed up with Louis-Dreyfus again for the 2023 film You Hurt My Feelings, in which the actress played a writer navigating tensions in her marriage.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in 'You Hurt My Feelings,' 2023
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings (2023)@officialjld/Instagram

In 2017, Louis-Dreyfus revealed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and took a break from work. Thankfully, she was declared cancer-free in 2018, and after Veep, she returned to the screen in Downhill, an American remake of a Swedish dark comedy film.

Louis-Dreyfus doesn’t only act in dialogue-driven indie dramas: In 2021, she joined the Marvel universe, playing the villainous Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier miniseries, Black Widow and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus during the filming of 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' 2022
Julia Louis-Dreyfus during the filming of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)@officialjld/Instagram

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ most recent project

Like many celebrities, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has recently branched out into the world of podcasts. In 2023, she launched Wiser Than Me, a podcast centered on conversations with famous older women. Her guests have included Jane Fonda, Carol Burnett, Fran Lebowitz and more, and a new season will be released later this year.

In a NPR interview, Louis-Dreyfus explained what inspired her to start the podcast, saying, “I thought, we’re not hearing enough from older women. Why are we not documenting these older women who have had so much life experience? And I… thought about that a lot and I thought, I want to talk to older women and get their wisdom, get their… tips from the frontlines of life.” Now that’s a mission worth supporting!

Wiser Than Me is Louis-Dreyfus’ latest outlet for her intelligence and humor, and whether we’re listening to her in conversation with an older icon or binge-watching Seinfeld episodes, we think she’s one of the most talented stars around.

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