Funny Business: Tony Hale Talks VEEP, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and Winning an Emmy

tony hale veep

Tony Hale stars on the incredibly hilarious HBO hit, VEEP. Hale plays Gary Walsh, Selena’s (Julia Louis- Dreyfus) right hand man on the Emmy winning political comedy. I spoke with Hale about this season of VEEP, going back to do a fourth season of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, and if Gary Walsh will ever grow a backbone?

What was it like playing Buster Bluth? What was the original character description for him, how did you make him your own?
Tony Hale: I remember seeing in the audition for Buster that he was kind of a mama’s boy, vulnerable, and had a lot of panic attacks. Tim Conway was a massive idol for me; he was on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. He’s a guy who while I was growing up I would watch and he would do the smallest thing, but his circumstances were so crazy that if he just played the truth of the scene it was hilarious. He didn’t have to push the comedy. I remember that what Mitch Hurwitz wrote for Buster was so extreme throughout the show I just played the silence, and played the awkwardness. In many times he just kind of stared, the circumstances gave the message enough that he’s a disaster. And it was just funny, I think with Buster it wasn’t necessarily making it my own, I mean we always make it our own but I just kind of played the truth of what would it be like for a guy who is that emotionally stunted and that vulnerable. Who just got his hand bit off by a seal, or who is dating a woman who has the same name as his mother and happened to be played by Liza Minnelli. (Laughs) So you just kind of play the truth of that and hope that’s funny.

How was going back and doing a fourth season?
Crazy, and exciting, we were all incredibly grateful to have been given that opportunity because that never happens. All that stuff about the VERONICA MARS movie, I’m so excited for them because I know what that feels like, being able to return to a character. You’re just so thankful to be given that opportunity, as an actor you never get to go back to that character that you’ve done, rarely. It was a huge rush and we were all very, very grateful.

Aside from Buster, who was your favorite character on the show?
I genuinely loved them all (laughs) because they all brought such crazy and unique stuff to the table. Most of my scenes were with Jessica Walter, who played Lucille. Her comic timing was so gold that just to be able to play with her all day long was so fun. And obviously Will Arnett and David Cross, all those guys made me laugh on a consistent basis.

Now I have some VEEP questions for you! Gary Walsh is such a wonderful and nice guy. Will we see him get a bit tougher this season if Selena runs for President?
Gary is pretty much content just being in the bosom of Selena Meyer; he just absolutely worships the ground she walks on. So, in his eyes the fact that she is on the Presidential campaign is an obvious, he’s surprised people haven’t woken up to this possibility before. Even though he is very content in being in this position and all he ever wants is to impress her, he begins to try and exercise responsibilities this season; he’s very excited about it. However, unfortunately he fails miserably in typical Gary fashion. But he just picks himself right back up and tries it again, that’s just his life he’s just falling down and picking himself back up, that’s pretty much his daily routine.

Will we see Dana (Jessica St. Clair) again this season?
Yes, we hear a little bit about Dana. Unfortunately, Gary really does need a loving, caring, human being in his life and he doesn’t get it with either Selena or Dana. He needs to get on and just find a tender, caring woman. Which would be difficult for Gary because his pattern is he is very used to abusive, dominating woman. He needs someone to step him through the process because he really needs to find a kind soul mate.

What can you tell us about this season of VEEP? What can we look forward to with Gary?
I think everyone is taken out of their comfort zone, for the first two seasons we were mainly in the West Wing and in the Eisenhower building (VP’s office) and now she’s on the campaign trail. So, we are all kind of taken out of that environment and the whole show is about everyone petitioning to get more power and spinning things and that obviously continues. She steps out and the saddest thing is how she describes the outside world as “the normals” she’s trying to get more time with “the normals” and that has to be the most patronizing thing ever. But in her world and in Gary’s world she is the Queen, and when she steps down she is among the commoners now, so she is trying to get in touch with the commoners.

My last question for you, how was it winning an Emmy this year? That bit you did with Julia and Anna Chlumsky was so great, who came up with that?
Mind blowing! The fact that I was even on that list was something that I have never imagined could happen. I’m still overwhelmed by that, just being on that list and included with those other guys. Going into the Emmys I was so thankful to be there, but you have to check your expectations because I never ever imagined I would win. Hearing my name called, my mind just exploded, I’m surprised I could even make a sentence after that. It was so exciting and oh my gosh, it was such overwhelming, and to be able to do that bit with Julia it was just a really fun wave the entire night to ride. It was really just awesome.

You can watch Tony on ARRESTED DEVLOPMENT on Netflix and can catch him tonight on the season premiere of VEEP on HBO at 10:30PM. Follow him on twitter at @MrTonyHale.

A Note from the Author: VEEP is incredible and I don’t say that too often about shows. (that’s an absolute lie, I love way more shows than I should) But in all seriousness, this show has so much heart. Armando Iannucci created such a strong and powerful show, the writing is brilliant and the characters are so intense and cut throat. I HIGHLY recommend you watch VEEP!

Victoria Nelli loves TV so much that she is paying $30,000 a year to learn about it in College. When she’s not learning about TV she enjoys writing about her favorite shows, interviewing anyone in the industry that will let her, and ranting about how underrated Parks and Recreation is. She is very much aware of her Netflix addiction, and no she will not be seeking help anytime soon. You can follow her on Twitter @VictoriaNelli