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Tony Hale Talks Being a Body Man in 'Veep' and the Return of Buster Bluth

By Sam Adams | Indiewire April 26, 2012 at 10:02AM

The Washington staffers in "Veep," the first American TV series from "In the Loop"'s Armando Iannucci, are a caustic, backstabbing lot, forever scheming to advance themselves or at least hold off the underlings gunning for their jobs. All of them, that is, except for Gary, the starstruck aide played by "Arrested Development" star Tony Hale. As the “body man” to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s second in command, he’s responsible for meeting her needs even when she can’t identify them. During one moment of crisis, she calls him into her office, and yells, “Get me... something!” In a world where everyone’s out for themselves, he’s the closest thing to an altruist.
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'Arrested Development'
Fox 'Arrested Development'
People often ask how much improvisation there was on "Arrested Development," and you invariably answer, “None.”

Exactly. There was a group of writers with Mitch, and they had spent a lot of time on the scripts -- not that these guys didn’t. It was just a different way of working. On "Arrested," the situations were so extreme and Mitch had spent so much time on callbacks, you trusted that this really had been specifically crafted to his vision. We would try to improv a bit, but it didn’t fit into the matrix.

Whereas with Armando, because of the way "Veep" was shot and the fact that it takes place in D.C., which is obviously a real environment, we really had to find the truth in those situations, and the organic relationships.

Fans have never given up hope for more "Arrested Development," and Netflix recently their plans to release 10 new episodes simultaneously next year. How far along are you in that process?

I don’t really want to to know. A big part of that show, which I treasure, is the element of surprise. I love coming to a reading and being like, “Holy crap, my hand is coming off!” So I actually don’t want to know anything until we start getting together and doing readings. All I know is that it’s happening in the summer, and we’re all opening ourselves up for it. I haven’t gotten any details -- that’s the fun mystery of it.

There’s not a huge overlap between Gary and Buster, but there’s a common quality they share.

"I think Buster could probably use a Gary in his life."

There’s definitely an anxious throughline. I think Buster could probably use a Gary in his life. What’s funny about Buster is that if he were placed in the situations that Gary was placed in, he would have about a thousand mental breaks. I love that Gary, even though he’s driven by a tremendous amount of anxiety, and he’s on edge a little bit, he steps up. He steps up to what she needs, and the situation, and he protects her. I think where Gary protects, Buster needed protection.

The underlying joke of the show is that she doesn’t really need protection, since no one would bother harming her. The best Gary can do is throw himself between her and a sick person’s sneeze.

But in my world, she needs about a thousand motorcades around her. She is so precious to me. If I had my way, I would hire the entire Secret Service to be around her 24/7.

He assumes everyone else reveres her as he does.

Oh, sure. Why would they not? She’s pretty much a god. The thought of anybody criticizing her, I’m not only blown away but devastated. That doesn’t even enter my world.

What effect did the behind-the-scenes research you did for "Veep" have on your feelings about the political system as a whole?

Tony Hale in Veep

It’s really not any different from what I’ve taken away from being in the entertainment business. It’s meeting people who have been put on such a high pedestal, and then you meet them, and granted, they’re nice people, but they should not be that high up. You lose their humanity, you lose the fact that everybody is on the same page, trying to keep their job, living life, having ups and downs.

What’s fascinating about D.C., the exteriors are these elaborate structures, this gorgeous architecture and beautiful stonework, and then you go inside and it’s crap-looking -- apart from the White House, which is beautiful. The Eisenhower Building -- the furniture is mismatched, everything is just bad decor and bad quality. Everybody’s looking down at their Blackberry. It’s a really frantic, mismatched environment. But on the exterior, it’s this whitewashed, gorgeous building. It’s a fascinating contrast.

I’m always fascinated that people think that these people have not made mistakes. They’re a container for so much pressure, so much criticism -- you cannot put that on somebody. People are going to make mistakes. Even in the press, “They have everything! They’re huge celebrities! Why would they do this?” Because they realize, “That’s a lot of pressure. I can’t match that.”

At the moment, members of the Secret Service, who are the most important bodyguards in the world, are in trouble because one of them short-changed a Columbian prostitute.

And let’s acknowledge, those are not good choices. But as a public, why are we so surprised? I’m not saying it’s our fault that it was done. But it’s our fault for the expectations we place on them. The higher up they are, the farther they’re going to fall.

This article is related to: Television, TV Interviews, Interviews, Tony Hale, Veep, HBO , Arrested Development






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