Anna Chlumsky previews her 'Halt and Catch Fire' debut

Kelly Woo
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Anna Chlumsky has received five Emmy nominations in a row for playing the uptight and territorial political operative Amy on HBO’s Veep (including one this year). But now, the actress is taking a portal back in time to the mid-1990s and jumping from politics to tech with a guest stint on Halt and Catch Fire.

She makes her debut on the AMC drama this Saturday as Katie Herman, a library scientist hired to help with the growth of Comet, the directory of websites created by Joe (Lee Pace), Gordon (Scoot McNairy), and Gordon’s daughter Haley (Susanna Skaggs).

It’s an exciting, if fraught time for Comet, especially since Donna (Kerry Bishé) has launched the competing algorithm-based search engine Rover. In the exclusive sneak peek below, Joe, Gordon, and Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) check out Rover to see how it stacks up.

In the search wars to come, Chlumsky’s Katie will have a major role to play. The actress chatted with Yahoo TV about entering the tech fray.

Were you a fan of Halt and Catch Fire before joining the show?
I was a fan of the show, definitely, before coming aboard. I had started to watch it when it first came out, and then I had saved it for a binge-able time in my life. I had not gotten around to it until the idea of the role came around, and then I binged it and I mean — I love this show so much! I almost detrimentally was a fan of the show once I came on board. When you’re that into it, part of me was just like a fangirl, like “Aahhhh!”

What can you tell us about Katie?
She is a library scientist by trade and by degree. She has a PhD in library science. She is an archivist. Her job has taken her around the country. She hasn’t found the right fit. She even says in the first interview that she’s a California girl at heart. So, she comes back to California and this whole new Silicon Valley thing is happening.

She’s the character that tells the broader story of when more than engineers and financiers were getting into Silicon Valley, when the industry really branched out. That’s where people in her position — which gets coined as ontologist, which is really like a categorist, but more to it — come in. That is really the beginning of that industry becoming much more necessary and inclusive to the broader public.

Were you looking for something to do during the hiatus from Veep?
Yes. We have nice, long hiatuses for Veep, and so that’s always been a really good opportunity for me to stretch out and do different roles, get away from Amy for a little bit. Most of the years, I’ve gotten to do a lot of stage during the hiatuses, and I’ve done a little bit of film. But yeah, I’m always open to what’s out there, when I’m available, and especially this year, I wasn’t pregnant so [Laughs]. I definitely felt rarin’ to go.

Why choose this role specifically?
I had a phone call with [creators] Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers before committing to her. They’re really good at not showing all of their cards right away; that’s one of their assets. I could tell when I read the script how very good they are at character development and what a good group of writers they were. But I didn’t necessarily see where Katie was going to go from that first episode. I wanted to get on the horn with them and ask what the point was of bringing her in and what she was going to be for the group. I just wanted to make sure she wasn’t going to be divisive in any way. They assured me that they had a plan for her and there was a reason. Once I heard their plan, I was like, “Yeah, let’s go for it!”

Halt and Catch Fire airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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