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Julia Louis-Dreyfus opens up about the past two challenging years

Julia Louis-Dreyfus attends a National Breast Cancer Coalition

Julia Louis-Dreyfus attends a National Breast Cancer Coalition event on Oct. 7 in Los Angeles.   Credit: Getty Images / Emma McIntyre

With the seventh and final season of "Veep" set to return this spring, star Julia Louis-Dreyfus is reflecting on two highly challenging years fighting breast cancer and enduring two deaths in her family.

"You know if you get on a horse and you have really tight reins and the horse is galloping? I felt like I had really tight reins on myself," the former "Seinfeld" star tells The New Yorker in its current issue. "That's what it felt like: I was just holding on tight." Rolling her eyes self-deprecatingly, she added, "I've had a really rough year, blah, blah, blah — you know, we're getting through it." Then after a moment's thought she amended, "I had a rough couple of years, actually."

The day after the 2017 Emmy Awards ceremony on Sept. 17, Louis-Dreyfus, 57, was diagnosed with breast cancer, now in remission after months of chemotherapy. "Monday morning, I found out — it's cancer," the 11-time Emmy Award winner told the magazine. "I mean, is that crazy?"

Almost exactly one year before, her father, Gerard "William" Louis-Dreyfus, head of an international commodities, shipping and energy conglomerate, died at age 84. While he had separated from her mother, Judith, when Julia was a year old and divorced soon afterward, Julia grew up spending weekends with him and her younger half siblings, Phoebe and Emma. Two days after William's death, Julia dedicated that year's outstanding lead actress Emmy win to him. "I'm so glad that he liked 'Veep,' " she told The New Yorker, "because his opinion was the one that really mattered."

Then this past August, her half sister Emma, 44, a social worker, died following a seizure while camping with friends in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range. A coroner gave the cause of death as accidental cocaine and ethanol intoxication. "It was out of the blue," Louis-Dreyfus recalled. Tabloids seized on the star's lack of public comment as evidence the two were estranged. "Given the fact that that heinous ... [expletive] came out, I would simply say I've kept this under wraps out of reverence for my dearest Emma."

Her eyes welling with tears, the magazine said, Louis-Dreyfus concluded, "It's been a very bad period of time."

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