Fans were elated by news that fresh installments of Arrested Development would finally see the light of day in 2013 -- but before Tony Hale slips back into Buster Bluth's prosthetic "monster" hand, he's trying out something even scarier: politics.
As one of the stars of HBO's sensational new series Veep, Tony gives audiences a behind-the-scenes look at life in the White House as he plays Gary Walsh, personal aide to Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). And given the jangled nerves and unyielding desire to please everyone, you could say that Buster and Gary are sort of like long lost hermanos.
Insider.com: What attracted you to Veep?
Tony Hale: In addition to the fact that I'm always thankful for jobs, a big thing for me was that we were making this show in an election year. There's so much posturing and a lot of great soundbites. I'm very intrigued by the fact that these people are not perfect, but we've put them on a pedestal to make them perfect. I love that this goes behind the scenes and shows that these people have freakouts. They lose their minds, they scream at their staff. That's the humanity of the situation – these people are under a lot of pressure and no human being can be in a pressure cooker like that without losing their mind somewhere else. And I love that we're the ones showing the freak outs.
Insider: And no one does freak outs better than Julia Louis-Dreyfus!
Tony: Oh my gosh! She is pitch perfect. I had a really hard time keeping my stuff together working with her. It's not even the way she would say things, sometimes it was just this look on her face. I broke constantly. I would just turn my back to camera, which is not the most subtle way to break, but I had no choice. She makes me laugh so hard.
Insider: I also think there's this fascination with the underlings who whisper in powerful people's ears. It's the Devil Wears Prada of it all.
Tony: [laughs] I know! And the great thing is Gary is just a walking Wikipedia. He's not great with policy stuff – but when it comes to random factoids, he knows everything.
Insider: Do you have a particularly favorite fact he spouts off in an upcoming episode?
Tony: This is so-and-so, "He's got a brother in Rage Against the Machine."
Insider: Since you spend so much time in the nape of Julia's neck, I have to ask: What does she smell like?
Tony: [laughs] Lovely. I have bad allergies though, so I wasn't the best judge when we were making it. I'll have to do some more scent work if we get picked up for next season. I'll be sure to spend more time there and get back to you.
Insider: What excites you looking ahead about the show?
Tony: Just seeing more of these very misguided characters. I think a huge throughline in this show is crippling fear they're going to lose their jobs. And that goes for Selina as well. Spin it however we must in order to keep our jobs. Everyone's just clinging to the notion of finding work. I do love that it shows the humanity of these people, because I think we want these political Jesus' a little bit. And you're not going to find it because these are human beings, and we have to acknowledge that.
Insider: Seeing the humanity of over-the-top characters is something you're particularity deft at, given Arrested Development. It it nice to finally have a concrete answer to give to fans when they ask about the show coming back?
tony: It really is. In this business, you take everything with a huge grain of salt because you realize there are so many factors involved with putting a TV show together. I kept the hopes at arms length because I would love to say Mitch Hurwitz's dialogue again but it's more of a cautious optimism. I was pretty much saying, "We'll see" about 1,000 times a day.
Insider: Are you planning to rewatch the show to get back into character?
Tony: Yea, I am. I haven't seen in it such a long time, so my wife and I are going to do a marathon in the next couple months to get back into it. Those are some interesting shoes to step back into. Also, Mitch's writing is so fun and so surprising – you never know what you’re going to get. All of a sudden your hand is coming off and your girlfriend is Liza Minnelli. I can't wait to go back. But it's funny, I was talking to somebody recently about it and they were bringing up these moments that I was totally unaware of [laughs]. All these hidden jokes that I had no clue about. There were so many things I didn’t catch, and clearly have yet to catch. So it should be fun to really see the show for the first time.
Insider: Have you been given any hints as to what the future holds for Buster?
Tony: Not yet. But given what happened in two and a half years of Arrested, I can't imagine what's happened to these people in six years. That answer blows my mind.
Insider: What do you think would happen if Buster and Gary were trapped in an elevator together?
Tony: Lord have mercy [laughs]. I think Buster needs a Gary in his life. I think there is definitely a common ground of anxiety, but I think Buster would be committed if he was placed in the world Gary lives in. He's an intelligent guy, but he's so socially dysfunctional that he'd have a massive meltdown on the White House lawn.
Veep airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.
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- Tony Hale