One of the most underrated new shows of last season in my humble opinion was FX’s animated spy comedy Archer. The best way to describe the show (to borrow a phrase from series creator Adam Reed) is “James Bond meets Arrested Development”. Given my adoration for the show, I jumped at the opportunity to meet and talk with Reed and cast members Judy Greer and Chris Parnell earlier today. Hit the jump for the interview highlights.
The first person I got to speak with was Judy Greer (Arrested Development), voice of Cheryl, the spy agency’s ditzy secretary. Imagine an animated version of Greer’s Arrested Development character Kitty and you’ve got Cheryl.
-Greer was approached by Reed to do the show and agreed because she thought the show was “really funny and dark and naughty” but she never realistically expected the show would ever become as popular as it is now.
-Greer said people are starting to recognize her from the show, even though its animated. She said people recognize her voice a lot of times.
-Greer said the first episode of Season 2 is called “Swiss Miss” and it’s “really kind of naughty, they all are”.
-Greer said she’ll next appear on a new CBS sitcom called Mad Love which has been picked up for midseason. Greer will costar with Jason Biggs (American Pie) and Sarah Chalke (Scrubs) in the ensemble comedy about four friends looking for love. The show is described as very similar to How I Met Your Mother and given that it’s pilot was helmed by HIMYM director Pamela Fryman, I’d say that comparison makes sense.
-Greer’s next film Love and Other Drugs will be released November 24. Directed by Ed Zwick (Defiance, Blood Diamond), the film costars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway and follows a Viagra salesman in the early 90s.
-Greer said she knows nothing about an Arrested Development movie. She says the whole cast wants to do it but they are waiting on a perfect script.
Next I got to speak with longtime Saturday Night Live star and Anchorman and Hot Rod scene stealer Chris Parnell. Parnell plays Cyril, the nebbish comptroller of the spy agency.
-Parnell said he originally auditioned for a different character that was only in the pilot and he actually didn’t get the role. One day out of the blue he was offered the role of Cyril and the rest is history.
-Parnell didn’t realize that his character would look like him. In fact he wasn’t told ever that the character would look like him until he first saw the show. (Not all characters look like their voice actor).
-In the upcoming season Cyrill will “undergo some changes” and we’ll see some new sides of the usually timid character.
-Parnell said he is totally open to making guest appearances on SNL and if they ask, he’d probably do it.
-Fans still come up to him to talk about his scene stealing role in Anchorman and Hot Rod. He said that earlier today at the signing he even had radio enthusiasts tell him how much they love his Hot Rod character (a radio show host).
Lastly I got to speak with series creator Adam Reed (Sealab 2021).
-His favorite episode of the series is “Skytanic” which takes place on a blimp. He likes it because it’s basically a Scooby Doo episode.
-Reed said he didn’t write with any actors in mind except for Jessica Walter (Arrested Development) as Archer’s mother and boss. He sent out a casting call that said “think Jessica Walter” and Walter’s agent contacted him. Reed was elated and used Walter as a selling point to other actors.
-Reed said the character of Cheryl was going to die in the pilot until Judy Greer became attached to the project.
-Reed originally wanted to voice the main character himself but he realized quickly that his voice would stand out amongst professional actors. His replacement, H. Jon Benjamin, was just nominated for an Emmy for his voice work.
-In regards to Season 2 of Archer, Reed said “there have been some breakups, some people have spent the offseason in mental hospitals…there is an unexpected pregnancy and birth and one of the characters is an unexpected parent”.
-Reed said that all actors record separately and often on the phone with headphones. He said the editing is what makes the show so quick and snappy.
-Reed said he read a lot of James Bond novels before writing the show and was inspired by the fact that in the novels “Bond is really sort of a bastard…that was sort of the inspiration. To make the worst human being possible that you would still root for.”
-Reed says one of the few times FX told him the show was crossing the line was when Archer was going to throw a baby and use it as a weapon.
-Reed’s pitch to FX was “James Bond meets Arrested Development” and he only had one page of black and white artwork to show the film. Luckily FX was onboard almost immediately.
One of the biggest highlights of my Collider experience has been telling Reed what a huge fan of the show I am. If you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out.
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