Everyone’s favorite alcoholic/sex addict/super spy Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is currently back for another season of the outrageous hit FX series, Archer. Things have changed a lot for the members of the ISIS team this season. For one thing they aren’t called ISIS anymore (for obvious reasons) and because the one-time government agency turned drug cartel has now been absorbed by the CIA. Also, no more Archer Vice plot as last season’s title change, which reflected the change in the show’s direction, has also been axed. This means Pam (Amber Nash) is fat again, there’s no more drug deals, and perhaps the biggest change of all; Lana (Aisha Tyler) has a baby! Baby Abbiejean is now the newest member of the gang and was a bit of her shock to her father — the unknowing Archer.
One of the other major changes to the series is that Cheryl Tunt, the office assistant to Malory Archer (Jessica Walter), is no longer a country star – which was one of the main storylines of Archer Vice. This season, she’s back behind her desk and when she’s not trying to be choked during sex or driving her boss insane; she’s providing some of the funniest aspects of the show…especially when she teams up with Pam.
Recently, we spoke with the voice of Cheryl, Judy Greer. Greer is one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood today. You’ve seen her in everything from the J. Lo/McConaughey rom com The Wedding Planner to the Jennifer Garner comedy 13 Going on 30 to Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown and the highly underrated Zach Galifianakis comedy, Visioneers. Of course many will recognize her from role as Kitty, George Bluth’s loyal assistant with a penchant for flashing people on Arrested Development. Yet, despite her lengthy resume, 2015 seems to be shaping up to be The Year of Greer. Outside of Archer, Greer will been seen on TV this year on FX’s sitcom Married and will be featured in three massive films this summer – Tomorrowland, Jurassic World and Marvel’s Ant-Man.
We spoke with Greer, in a roundtable set up by FX, about her characters drastic change in Season Six, comparing Cheryl with Lina (her character from FX’s Married), the Archer porn parody, and much more.
Does it feel like it’s been six seasons and do you ever wonder what can they come up with next?
Well, I did wonder that, I guess, after the fourth season and then there was Archer Vice and I was like, oh, yes. That’s what they’re going to do, make it totally different. It was really fun. I can’t really believe it’s been so long. I think all of the cast members would answer the same that none of us ever thought it was even going to get picked up in the first place. So, we’re always just thrilled every year when we get our pickup.
To me it still feels as fresh. I still laugh out loud every time I read a new script and that’s really rare. I think that they’ve managed to keep the level—it’s stays as funny or it doesn’t seem like they’re losing energy or steam at all when they’re writing. Yes. It feels just as fresh as the beginning to me, honestly.
You’ve been so busy with a bunch of other projects, as well. You’ve got a bunch of movies coming out this year and everything. How do you balance that with the schedule of doing the voice-over for the series?
The guys at Archer make it really easy for all of us. I can record it anywhere I am if there’s a recording studio and that’s pretty cool. Wherever I am on location, even in the weirdest little places, usually there’s probably a recording studio and so we just work it out like that. I think one of the things that they liked about casting all of us is that we all work a lot and we all are very busy. They just make it really easy for us. And those on TV animated shows record the cast all together which seems like it’d be really fun but I’m really glad Archer doesn’t do that. That would make it a lot harder.
Season 6 is sort of bringing Archer back to basics a little bit and leaving behind the last year’s story line. You had to say goodbye to Cherlene.
I know. What a drag.
How much are you going to miss her and are the producers making it up to you with something juicy for this season?
This season has been crazy. I’m going to miss Cherlene, but all good things must come to an end, I guess. I feel like they have definitely made it up to me this season. This season has just been really fun because now we work for the CIA so that changes everything. We have a boss. We never really had a boss before, you know. I mean, we had “Malory” but not a boss-boss.
We were just like our own thing. It’s fun. It’s fun to see like how it’s changing all the characters like having to work for the CIA. I loved Archer Vice so much, but I’ve been really into this season because it’s just fun to kind of go back to what we were doing in the beginning.
You’re not just working for the CIA but the back of the house gang is doing a bit of babysitting this season also.
Is that the correct impression that the baby is sort of affecting everybody not just Lana and Archer?
Yes. The babies become a real pain in our ass, man. We’re expected to deal with this baby a lot, which we were not ready for. But it makes for a good comedy.
You’re not really appropriate caretakers.
I think so. No.
Are there any scripts that you get that still catch you off guard, surprise you a little bit, or are you just kind of used to it and you’re like what kind of madness do the guys have in store for me this go around?
It’s funny because there was one major thing that happened this season that blew me away. When I was reading it I couldn’t believe it happened. It was because it was like the opposite of a terrible thing. I don’t want to be a spoiler but it was a nice cool thing. Now that’s what blows me away when I read the script. It’s never like, how can you say that or how can we do that? But this one particular thing that happened towards the end of the season. I was like, what, because it was kind of awesome.
Do you have a different attitude whenever you’re voicing one of your different personas?
I probably should lie about this but I really don’t do much. I think a lot of us just go in and say the words. I don’t have to do much because they really write the characters so well and when I go in it’s like already right there. I felt like Cherlene was a mess. I don’t know. The way that they wrote her she was enough different that it’s made it fun for me to do something a little different. But I still thought Cheryl was in there, you know.
Do people randomly come up to you in the street and ask you to scream, “You’re not my supervisor!?”
100%. I’ve even done people with outgoing messages, which are so funny. Screaming, “You’re not my supervisor,” like at a person’s cell phone. It’s really fun for me.
I know that usually on Archer when we get tuned into the crew at the office they’re kind of at their most despicable in any given moment that we peek in on them. I wanted to know if you wanted to get on the record with a couple of Cheryl’s finer qualities?
Man. Like, real good things? I’m not going to say she’s a hard worker. I don’t think she really is but she really loves her job. She’s very loyal to the Archer crew. I don’t know what we’re called anymore because we’re not ISIS anymore. Our no name band of misfits five. She’s very loyal to them and I think she expects that in return. She’s weirdly generous with her wealth. Like, letting everyone live in her mansion. Yes. She’s not stingy. And she’s got a simple taste in her wardrobe. I think you’ll notice that she probably never changes her clothes.
Do you think Cheryl would be a better match for Russ Bowman [Nat Faxon] than Lina [in FX’s Married]? It seems like Russ is a bit more adventurous in the bedroom. Obviously, one has to think of the shower episode where he’s constantly trying to ask Lina to have sex in the shower and she keeps turning him down. You couldn’t help to think that Cheryl would jump at that opportunity given the notice.
Yes, but Cheryl would eat him up and spit him out. He wouldn’t stand a chance with her. First of all, Russ is like a dude who needs to be taken care of. Cheryl doesn’t have patience for Russ’s brand of man. There could be some kind of awesome like night of hot crazy sex that Russ dreams of, I think overall he would come whining back to Lina with his tail between his legs.
How much fun do you have on the Archer Live!?
I was only able to do one unfortunately. I had one of the best nights ever doing it. If they ever ask me to do it again I will in a heartbeat. It’s so fun. The audience is so great. I don’t know. Lucky Yates and Amber Nash have really sort of taken over the show and turned it into this really cool interactive audience participation kind of show.
If I was a fan of a show and there was something like that came to town I would just die. It seemed so fun and everyone was so cool. Our fans are really cools fans, too. They’re not freaks, weirdos, even though you think that they would be because our show is so freaky and weird. They’re all really supportive and really want to laugh. Doing a show, live show, and any kind of live show for people who are dying to laugh is just the best, you know. I think it was a really cool idea. It was really fun the way they sort of turned it into like we’re going sit here on stage and read you live one of the episodes, it becomes this cool like interactive thing.
When we did it in Austin, Texas, we had two people doing sign language on the side which we were like, wait, what? Then we started seeing like a ton of dirty words just to see what those words were in sign language and it turned into a whole different show where we were like, “How do you do this word in sign language?” And the poor people doing the signing were like, “Oh my gosh.” We were making them say the dirtiest of the dirty words. Those poor guys. There was a young guy and he was just laughing. But then there was a woman who was like, “I don’t want to sign this.”
What do you think keeps people coming back to the show in terms of the ever growing fan base? What is it about the show you think?
Well, I guess it all kind of has to start with the writing, especially in an animated show. We’re not Pixar. It is what it is and it’s meant to be that way. It’s supposed to be throwback. The look of the show is specific and intentional but we’re not breaking new ground with animation and computers and stuff, which is the idea.
However, I think then it really just all comes from the writing. It’s so funny. Adam Reed writes every single episode. One guy writes everything. It’s pretty amazing. I feel like there’s a real sense of continuity within the show, even with an Archer Vice. The voices of our characters and I don’t mean it literally, I mean it figuratively. They really stay the same. There’s a ton of continuity and tone, character, character arch. I think that it’s just extremely rare to see any kind of TV show that completely written by one person, regardless of what any show runner will tell you. This is actually really that and I think that’s kind of what keeps people coming back and what keeps it so fresh and so funny.
Adam still is just as excited about it at episode whatever one we’re at. At the end of—I’ve recorded just last week the first of the two-part season finale and it’s just as funny and weird and exciting. Yes. I think that is why people keep coming back and why the fans are so avid because Adam is still so into it. We’re still so into it. I feel like we’re just as fresh and funny as we started out being.
In addition to doing voice of the season finale what else are you working on at this very moment because you’ve got a ton of projects?
Yes. I’ve been busy, man. Let’s see, I start going back to my new TV show called Married also on FX. Then I’m doing press for this. I’m going to go to Sundance on Wednesday for a movie I have there called Grandma that Lily Tomlin and Julia Garner star in that Paul Weitz wrote and directed. Then, I’ve got a couple of movies coming out this summer, Ant-Man and Jurassic World which I’m really excited about, obviously. Yes, so I’m doing press for that and working on getting ready to start shooting Married, which is so fun, but a pretty rigorous shooting schedule. So I like to get really prepared for that.
In the premiere episode of the season you really get to see that Cheryl just absolutely tortures Malory with redesigning the office exactly the way it was. What is it about that dynamic that Cheryl’s always just the worse to her and she always gets the same back?
I don’t know what is up with them. Are they going to end up together in the end? They really do have such a strange dynamic. Like, Malory can’t fire Cheryl and Cheryl refuses to quit and I think it’s just going to be like that forever. I think that Cheryl is probably the worst executive assistant ever in the world but loves her job, and in a very strange Cheryl kind of way, loves her boss.
Do you ever find that you share any character traits with Cheryl?
I kind of find that I want to. I don’t think I do. I don’t have the balls that she does. I wish I did. She doesn’t really have any kind of inner editor, does she. She pretty much just says whatever she thinks. I don’t do that. I wish I was more like that. I’m pretty good not sharing a lot of her other dreams. She’s a really intense person. I wonder if she even sleeps at night. I never really thought about it.
So going out to the conventions over the years, I’ve seen the fandom for Archer consistently grow. How do you feel about the fans and witnessing that? What’s been one of your most interesting fan experiences?
It was a while ago. The first year that we went to Comic-Con they put us in this ballroom. It was really great. They showed an episode. We did a Q&A panel and it was really fun. There were about 500 people there. One year later we went back to Comic-Con so this would’ve been after the second season and there were 2000 people there. To see in one year our fan base grow in size that much so quickly like the Comic-Con was like we had to get you like a huger ballroom. That was sort of like a really cool fan moment that I remember.
All of us stood up on our chairs and took pictures of all the people because we couldn’t believe it because you think when you’re recording a TV show you really feel like you’re in a bubble. So to see it grow, our fans multiply like that, it was really special. It made me really happy for the guys who make the show, Adam Reed and Matt Thompson, especially, too, because they’re in Atlanta. We get a lot of love here in L.A. for Archer but in Atlanta it seems like they maybe they don’t get to see how great it is to be on Archer.
Archer had finally gotten its adult DVD parodies. How do you feel about that?
I mean, that means we made it, right?
There was a time when it seemed like there were actors who specialized in voice work and then there were the actors who did movies and TV. I think in recent years we’re seeing more and more very, very busy working actors and actresses like yourself. You talked about how much you’ve got going on right now making time to do animation and do it regularly. Why do you think that is? What’s sparking this move of more recognizable actors into animation in the last five/ten years?
Well, that’s a really good question. I think that I would love to say it’s maybe the success of shows like Archer and Bob’s Burgers. All the animated adult shows. The Simpsons, really, that’s been on for like 70 years now, I think. Like that really broke ground, I think, for having like a segue show that something like kids and adults can watch and that the humor is really smart. Family Guy is another one. What Seth McFarlane is doing in American Dad. I don’t know.
I feel like those shows just have become so successful and they’re so funny. I don’t know budget-wise if it’s cheaper to do an animated show or a live action show. I guess that’s a question for the producers. I do know we can get away with a lot more in an animated show. I think for guys like Adam Reed and the people who make those other smart funny shows, I think, you don’t have to compromise your sense of humor if you’re doing an animated show versus like what you can and can’t say or show on a live action show.
So, because of it the scripts are really funny. The scripts are really smart. Then they’re attracting kind of different caliber of actor who—a, it’s a freaking awesome job because you go to work for like 30 minutes when you do it. Maybe Aisha [Tyler] and H. Jon Benjamin have to go for longer. But, for me, I’m in and out in 30 minutes. It’s really great. It’s really fun. It’s very creatively fulfilling. I think a lot of people are getting turned on by it, turned on by it, how sassy. They’re getting turned onto it because it’s like a cool job where you get to let loose in that little recording room and let go in a way that you can’t always on a set full of people.
Is Lana finally going to be forced to enlist Cheryl for babysitting duties?
First of all, it’s a terrible, terrible idea to have any of us babysitting for this baby and Lana knows it. There’s definitely some last minute babysitting that has to happen that no one’s happy about. But, yes, there’s not going to be like a regular babysitting duty. The baby is like a hot potato sometimes where we’re like, come on, man. You take her. No, you take her. No, you take her. But what always makes me giggle is just how Malory always talks about how fat she is. It just tickles me to no end. So terrible. A terrible thing to say to a baby. It makes me laugh.
The renovation of the offices isn’t exactly the way it was. There’s that hidden sauna hot tub retreat. I was just wondering if we ever find out if it was Pam’s idea or Cheryl or whose?
I think it was Cheryl idea, if I remember correctly, to recreate the office exactly the same. But Krieger and Pam they’re the ones that did the sauna. I was just excited about the toast robot.
Judy Greer voices Cheryl Tunt every Thursday night on FX’s Archer.
Al Mannarino is the managing editor for Pop-Break. He is also host of the News Over Brews Podcast, Loot Care Unboxed, Backstage Break, and the producer of Behind the Brews. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History and is currently a Promotions Assistant for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino