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TV, Comic Books
FX’s animated spy comedy Archer has been a staple for the network since it first premiered in 2010. Now on the cusp of Season 5, the television show enters new territory as the International Secret Intelligence Service is dismantled and the former spies are now outside the law, attempting to unload kilos of drugs. At New York Comic Con, cast members Jessica Walter (Arrested Development), comedian Aisha Tyler, Lucky Yates, Amber Nash (Frisky Dingo), Judy Greer (Arrested Development), Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live) and H. Jon Benjamin (Bob’s Burgers, Home Movies) spoke with Spinoff Online and members of the press about the show and looked back on the past four seasons.
Tyler, who voices one of ISIS’s only competent spies and newly expectant mother Lana Kane, discussed her beginning on the show, recalling that landing the role of the exasperated agent was relatively simple.
“The way I prepared for the audition of Lana is that I picked up the phone and when they asked if I want to play Lana I said ‘Yes,’” Tyler deadpanned. “I practiced a lot of ‘yeses’ and also a couple of ‘I want more moneys.’”
More seriously, Tyler explained that she had been an ardent fan of Archer creator Adam Reed’s two other animated comedies. “I loved Space Ghost [Coast to Coast] when it was on and so I found Sealab  … When they said this was written by the guy who wrote Sealab I said yes,” Tyler recalled.
Currently voice recording for Season 5, which begins in January, Tyler spoke of her character’s impending pregnancy and whether fans learn more about Lana’s family or life before becoming a spy.
“I don’t know if we’re going to see Lana’s family. The thing that’s been funny for me with this show, and I think its going to be really great this season, is seeing Lana in situations of peril while pregnant,” Tyler said. “Obviously that’s harder to get away with in real life but when you have a cartoon its hilarious to put her in machine gun fire while she’s with child; I think that’s mainly what we’re focused on.”
Looking across the press room, Tyler took a moment to yell to Reed, asking for his permission to “spill the Season 5 spoilers.” Reed shrugged.
“I don’t know if we’re going to see her family, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just show up and then I say the words,” Tyler joked as Reed and reporters laughed.
As for whether Tyler believed Season 5 Lana is shaping up to be a good mother, Tyler laughed and emphatically stated, “No!”
“I think she’s going to be terrible at it. Of all the people at ISIS she’s the most likely to be an incompetent parent — she’s a relatively confident human being generally but I think she’s too dedicated to work and emotionally a little bit of a cripple,” Tyler said, adding, “I mean, she’s not going to suck as bad as Mallory, so just by comparison she’ll be mom of the year.”
Mallory is not the only deadbeat parent of the show as Archer actor H. Jon Benjamin stepped in to give his two cents on Archer’s “son,” the Wee Baby Seamus, who got tattooed by Archer in Season 2 and then subsequently ignored.
“I’m actually a good absentee father, right? There’s a lot people don’t know about that I do! I write letters to him — I haven’t sent any,” Benjamin joked. “I’m giving the baby a complex so he grows up to be an artist.”
“And an alcoholic,” Tyler said.
Benjamin shrugged. “That too!”
Voice actress Amber Nash also spoke with reporters about her own negligent and emotionally stunted character, Pam, the sexually voracious and nearly indestructible head of ISIS HR, promising an even brasher woman in Season 2.
“This season is really different than what we’ve done before and Pam gets into an appropriate amount of trouble for Pam, which is a lot of trouble,” Nash teased.
Unlike many of the show’s actors, Nash is one of the few who uses a character voice rather than her normal speaking tone, explaining that her mother was the vocal inspiration for Pam.
“My mom is southern, but whenever I tell stories about my mom its her being kind of shitty, like, [in Pam’s voice] ‘Are you going to wear that?’” Nash laughed. “That’s the voice in my head; Pam is the voice that I use when I’m making fun of the things my mom says to me.”
“My mom doesn’t know this!” Nash added with another chuckle.
Praising her fellow voice actors and the crew of Archer, especially Reed, Nash explained that while fans may not see much of Pam being a field agent in Season 5 — a side effect of the ISIS being kicked out of the spy business — Pam will “keep on the path of badassery, as far as she can go!”
“She’s so perfect at it, it’s like of course she should be a field agent. She’s so terrifyingly strong, and apparently fearless!” Nash laughed.
“Fearless” is also how Nash described her character’s interest in sex, the actress stating that her favorite subplot in Season 4 was the secret Archer/Pam relationship. “When we recorded that episode Adam told me, ‘Look I have this idea, this is what’s going to be happening’, and I was so excited, because it was Archer — it was so exciting!”
Taking a moment to tally the number of Pam’s sexual conquests on her fingers, Nash added, “I think she’s almost gone through everybody at Isis, except for Mallory. Wait, did she?”
“I think the Archer thing will bubble up again,” the actress added, joking, “She’ll have sex with anybody!”
When it comes to cataloging weird sexual fetishes, however, Pam is no match for Cheryl/Carol, the unhinged ISIS secretary played by Judy Greer.
“There’s a whole new Cheryl in Season 5. Her name changes, her career changes, it’s pretty awesome,” Greer said, adding, “Fetish-wise we’re still sniffing some glue, we’re still doing drugs, we’re still drinking a lot, we’re still pretty cranky. She definitely still loves choke-sex.”
While the past four seasons have explored the full extent of Cheryl/Carol’s madness, when she first came on for the pilot Greer never imagined the “weepy secretary” would transform into the show’s most decadent character.
“The pilot episode which was so long ago, I remember reading it and it was like ‘weepy secretary pining for Archer.’ I need to ask Adam where this came from — I mean, it’s not based on me!” Greer laughed. Shortly after the pilot episode, Reed and Greer decided to substantially change the straight-man secretary.
“He was like, I don’t want her to be that, I want her to be crazy! That’s so much more fun. …all of a sudden out of nowhere I got this awesome character, so thanks Adam!” Greer laughed.
Promising “more Tunt” in Season 5 for fans of Cheryl/Carol’s brother Cecil (voiced by Eugene Mirman) Greer also revealed that kidnapping is on Cheryl/Carol’s mind, especially at the beginning of the season.
“She’s going to try really hard to get kidnapped! Cheryl wants to get kidnapped really bad. I think I recorded [lines related to the kidnapping] in episode five or six, that’s all I can say about that,” Greer said.
Besides Archer Greer is also getting ready for shooting “Tomorrowland,” the Brad Bird-directed Disney film based off the theme park attraction, slated for release December 2014.
“My name [in the film] is Jenny and I’m not allowed to even have a script yet, but I was allowed to go to the casting directors office and read it in a cold, dark, empty room,” Greer laughed. “It’s long and I was sobbing at the end of it. It’s so good.”
While Greer had to stay mum on further filming details, she took the opportunity to plug her upcoming book of essays, “I Don’t Know Where You Know Me From: Confessions Of A Co-Star.”
“I’m on my first round of, what I call, the grammar police. Turns out I don’t understand the semicolon. There’s a shocker,” Greer joked, adding, “I also don’t understand [usage of the word] ‘whom.'”
Tyler is also in the midst of a secondary project for the small screen, hosting of the CW revival of improv show Whose Line Is It Anyway?
“I was a big fan of the show before I got offered the job and I had known Wayne [Brady] for a really long time and Drew [Carey] for a really long time, so to be offered to take over for Drew was incredible,” Tyler said. “It’s a really simple job, I sit around and read things off of cards and laugh like an idiot for half and hour.”
As for the future of Archer in 2014, all actors professed their continual amazement for their fans and the support the show has garnered among viewers.
“I thought, ‘This was the funniest pilot script I had ever read — but it won’t get picked up.’” Greer said. “Here we are, five years later. Five years and an ocelot!”