CS Interview: Tony Hale on To The Stars, Archibald’s Next Move & More!
Emmy winner Tony Hale (Veep) is one of the hardest-working and prevalent actors in Hollywood, but ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to chat with the star to discuss his role in the upcoming drama To The Stars, as well as his Netflix series Archibald’s Next Move, DC Universe’s Harley Quinn and more!
Written by Shannon Bradley-Colleary and directed by Martha Stephens (Land Ho!), To The Stars is set in 1960s Oklahoma and sees withdrawn farmer’s daughter, Iris Deerborne (Hayward) forging an intimate friendship with worldly but reckless new girl, Maggie Richmond, despite scrutiny from their small town.
In addition to Kara Hayward (Moonrise Kingdom) and Liana Liberato (Light as a Feather), the cast features Malin Åkerman (Billions), Shea Whigham (The Quarry), Hale, Lucas Jade Zumann (Sinister 2), Adelaide Clemens (Tommy), Madisen Beaty (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Jordana Spiro (Ozark).
In the coming-of-age drama, Hale stars as Maggie’s father Gerald, still trapped in conservative ways of thinking that continues to drive a bigger wedge between him and his daughter. Despite generally being known for his comedic roles, the 49-year-old star found stepping into the character “fun,” even amidst some of the darker nature of his role.
“It was hard because it’s a character that kind of makes me sad, but he in the end learns a lot I think,” Hale described. “But it’s very different, I was doing Veep in the middle of it, so it was like going from one extreme to the next. But I think with drama or comedy, you’ve gotta find truthful places and also places in the character within yourself and I do that with both drama and comedy. So at the base of it, it’s not that different in terms of trying to do an honest performance, because even in comedy if you’re winking at the camera, it’s not as good as if you tried to play it honestly.”
Despite its ’60s Oklahoma setting, Hale found that there’s a real timely nature to the film and while trying to avoid certain spoilers for the story, he believes there’s a hopeful element to it that he hopes audiences can truly connect to.
“There’s a lot of repression and all that stuff, but in the end I feel like there’s an awakening in the father,” Hale explained. “Not to give too much away, but it’s hopeful in a way the awakening for the love of his daughter. He made a lot of mistakes, but I think he hopefully learned himself that love always wins beyond all that other judgement crap.”
Hale’s joining of the project came from his friend and producer Laura Smith, who sent him the script and after finding interest in the story itself, he learned of the cast and crew attached to the project, who he “really loved” and knew he had to be a part of it.
“When you’re doing these gigs, of course you want to be doing good work, but you also want to be doing them with good people and I really really liked them a lot, so we just had a really nice time and it just came out so beautifully, it’s such a beautiful film,” Hale warmly recalled. “The story and it’s shot so beautifully, I’m really proud to be a part of it. Because I wasn’t one of the main leads, we kind of mainly really connected during press for Sundance and I got to know them a little better. But Liana and Kara and all those guys and Shea Whigham, I already knew Malin Akerman from doing Happythankyoumoreplease years ago and so it was really fun to work with her again. Sundance was really, really fun, that was the time we got to get to hang a lot outside of work.”
Hale laughs when explaining his love for hanging out with his cast, calling himself “boring” while describing he is “always a fan of going out and having dinner” and he just likes “having a couple glasses of wine and telling stories” with his fellow stars and that his fondest memory from his time on the set came from he and the cast going out and “having dinner one night and just catching up.”
In addition to working on To The Stars, Hale recently saw the debut of the second season of Archibald’s Next Big Thing, a Netflix animated adaptation of the children’s book he co-wrote with Tony Biaggne and Victor Huckabee and is the creator and star for the series. He finds making the series and its book as “one of the biggest joys of my life,” with the titular chicken “pretty much becoming my role model.”
“The way he walks in life, he just tries to see the best in everyone and the best in every situation, he always kind of has a plan in the beginning of each episode but life goes many different directions and he goes with it,” Hale said. “Like, look what we’re in the middle of right now, I want more of Archibald’s attitude, but it’s just funny and it’s very simple truth which are things that I forget about. It’s very easy to get clouded in life and this business, but it’s all about how we treat others. That’s it and how we treat ourselves and so I love this chicken and I love working on it.”
The animated cast for the series features a star-studded ensemble including Hale, Matty Cardarople (A Series of Unfortunate Events), Jordan Fisher (To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You), Chelsea Kane (Baby Daddy), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Adam Pally (Sonic the Hedgehog), Rosamund Pike (Radioactive), RuPaul and Casey Wilson (Black Monday). Hale recalls the assembling of the cast as “just kind of working out,” with Kane, Pally and Fisher joining the cast first, for which he “was so grateful because they worked so perfectly.”
“Then down the road, Julia could do a voice, RuPaul came and did a voice and it was just a delight to see how many people wanted to join, Joel McHale came on and wanted to do one,” Hale said. “It’s been an absolute blast, and also all of these voice over artists, Roger Craig Smith, Kevin Michael Richardson, all these incredible artists that do hundreds of voices. Do all this animation we don’t even know about, all these incredible people.”
Hale himself as become something of a notable voice actor in Hollywood alongside Smith and Richardson in this decade, including his various roles on DC Universe’s Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)-starring Harley Quinn, his voice primarily being lent to Wonder Woman villain Doctor Psycho.
“Dean Lorey and I worked on Arrested Development years ago and he is just one of the funniest men and he asked if I would audition and I was like, ‘Absolutely!’” Hale remembered. “Doctor Psycho is just such a disaster and he’s so crass, but he’s so fun to play. It’s another experience in animation where you don’t really get to work a lot with the other cast members, you’re mainly working with the producers and writers and then they put it all together, so I haven’t really met a lot of the other cast members. But when I see the final product it’s really fun seeing how they put it all together.”
Though he’s unsure about whether there are plans at Netflix to keep Archibald going, Hale certainly hopes it’s picked up a third season, noting he would “love to keep making it” and is “a constant source of joy for me,” while teasing that his character “meets a lot of different fun characters” that can keep the series going. Prior to the animated series, Hale began working with the streaming service on the revived fourth and fifth seasons of the previously canceled Fox sitcom Arrested Development, and though he laughs when mentioning he hasn’t really thought about whether it will come back again, he does look back at the most recent season as a “wild” experience.
“Somebody was asking me that recently and thinking back to that last season, it was so wild because we had such a trust in Mitch Hurwitz, who created the show, because none of us really knew what was going on,” Hale explained. “The scripts were out there, we didn’t know what was going on, we sort of trusted his guidance. There were times, when my hand was eaten off by a seal, where the props would put a hand on my arm and it was a different kind of hand and I would be like, ‘What is this?’ The props person would go, ‘I don’t know, just go with it.’ So I think back to that time, it was like diving into the deep end and seeing what he comes up with, it was a real fun time.”
To The Stars is set to hit digital platforms on April 24, with Archibald’s Next Move and Arrested Development available to stream on Netflix now and Harley Quinn debuting new episodes every Friday on DC Universe.