Good news for those of you who like smart, British-y humor: Veep—the greatest comedy ever created about a fictional vice president of the United States—returns to HBO this Sunday, April 14, at 10pm ET. More good news: it features Tony Hale, who plays the vice president’s way-too-old-for-his-job personal aide. We caught up with the hilarious actor to talk Veep, American politics, the new Arrested Development season and… Tim Conway.
“I have a huge respect for anybody who wants to sign up to be a politician. I mean, it’s not something I want to do. You’re making massive decisions for our nation and the world.”
MADE MAN: Why is the best show about American politics created by a couple of guys from the UK?
TONY HALE: Maybe they’re just very good at observing chaos. The other show they did was The Thick of It, which was about parliament. And Armando Ianucci, one of the two creators, has this very unique interest in the political world. You don’t really hear much about the vice president, so he just felt like there were a lot of comic opportunities there. And hopefully there have been.
MM: What can we expect in Season 2, and is there anything special that your character is doing?
TH: A little love interest comes into Gary’s life. Which is always a hot topic. Because for years Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has been his love interest. In his world, he would have easily married Selina if she gave him the chance. So the idea of bringing a love interest into Gary’s life is kind of shaking things up.
MM: Has doing the show made you depressed about American politics?
TH: Not at all, actually. Just the opposite. I have a huge respect for anybody who wants to sign up to handle these kinds of positions. I mean, it’s not something I want to do. You have to be called, because you’re making massive decisions for our nation and the world, and that’s just a massive pressure cooker.
“Just hang back, Matt Walsh. This isn’t Old School.”
MM: How often do people quote Arrested Development dialogue to you when you’re out in public?
TH: People are typically really cool. When someone comes up to me and says they’re a fan of the show, you know, I’m a fan of the show, too, so it’s nice to chat about it. Because I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff. Like, somebody on Twitter posted this scene of me and Will Arnett, where I had my hook, and Will says something like, “We need to figure out a way so that people can be around you without wanting to kill themselves.” And I totally forgot about that scene.
MM: The new season hits Netflix on May 26. How excited are you?
TH: Very excited. But I have to say, it’s pretty surreal. I remember when we started shooting again, we were doing this scene where we were all in the house together, and I remember looking around and everybody was in costume and taking on their characters, and [creator] Mitch Hurwitz was there. It was like a time warp. It was just like, “Wait, what’s happening? Is this seven years earlier?” You know, you were trying to get your mind around it. But it was fun to get back into it. It was like riding a bike again.
MM: Anything you can tell us about what Buster has been up to?
TH: God, what has he not been up to? I will say, fear and anxiety definitely continue to be the through lines of his life. And he has remained loyally committed to his mother. But I don’t really want to give too much away, because the one thing that I loved about the show, even when they would come up to me and say, “OK, by the way, a seal is going to bite off your hand, and Liza Minnelli is going to be your girlfriend,” was the element of surprise. So I want everybody to have that experience.
We’re guessing he’s shouting something about his mother.
MM: Got any tips for being funny?
TH: I think people try to probably manufacture moments sometimes, to be more funny. And I think that we just forget that life in general is pretty chaotic and funny, and if we just kind of relax a little bit and observe what’s going on around us, and make it almost a commentary on that, I think that’s pretty funny. Try not to force it.
MM: Who was your comic icon growing up?
TH: Tim Conway. I always used to watch him on The Carol Burnett Show. And one thing that I just loved about him, to this day that I love, is he didn’t have to do that much. He trusted the scene, and he could do the smallest thing that would make you roll with laughter. Because you related to what a crazy situation he was in. I think he and Bob Newhart had kind of the same thing going on. The comedy was not forced. It was relaxed.
MM: Do you think that, like Albert Brooks in Drive, you will someday get the chance to graduate from playing awkward guys to playing a badass psychopath gangster?
TH: I would love to. I’d love that opportunity. I’d love it, I’d love it.