“I still laugh out loud every time I read a new script and that’s really rare” – Judy Greer on ‘Archer‘
The sixth season of Archer, FX’s hit animated comedy, is airing and as always, it’s hilarious. Judy Greer, who voices Cheryl on the show, recently did a conference call with the press to talk about the show and more.
Archer airs at 10pm on Thursdays on FX
It just seems surprising and the time has flown by so quickly that you’re already into the sixth season. I was just wondering for you does it feel like it’s been six seasons and do you ever wonder what can they come up with next?
Judy Greer: 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 because 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, like, we’re always just thrilled every year when we get our pickup.
It just feels, I don’t know, 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 really, I don’t know, 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 got a bunch of movies coming out this year. How do you balance that with the schedule of doing the voice-over for the series?
Judy Greer: Well, 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. Where ever I am on location I can usually, 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.”
Judy Greer: 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?
Judy Greer: This season has been crazy. I’m going to miss “Cherlene,” but all good things must come to an end, I guess. They, I feel like, 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.
At this point in the game, 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?
Judy Greer: You know, it’s funny because there was one major thing that happened this season that like 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.
It seems like everybody on Archer says some pretty wheeled off stuff. Do you ever go, okay, what am I even saying here? Do you ever ask that kind of thing?
Judy Greer: I do have to ask that stuff but usually it’s because it’s some really bizarre obscure reference to like a really old trivia kind of question. I’m like, wait, who is this person and they’re like “he invented the watermelon, Judy.” I’m like, “okay, how would anyone know that. Why would anybody know that? You’re all crazy.”
Do you have a different attitude whenever you’re voicing one of your different personas, like, I got “Cheryl,” “Cherlene”? How do you go into the studio?
Judy Greer: Well, 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.
And who would be your favorite? Who’s your favorite to do?
Judy Greer: I love “Malory.” You know, it changes. “Pam” is so amazing and “Cheryl’s” such a sad sack. But other than “Malory,” I never get tired of “Malory.” I love it.
How much participation do you get in coming up with the crazy stuff that “Cheryl” has to say and have you ever cringed with any of it? And, also, do people randomly come up to you in the street and ask you to scream, “You’re not my supervisor?”
Judy Greer: Yes to number three, 100%. I’ve even done people with outgoing messages which is so funny, screaming, “You’re not my supervisor,” like at a person’s cell phone. It’s really fun for me. Let’s see, then the second question was, is there anything I have to say that makes me cringe?
Judy Greer: I would have to say that less lately. Not because they’re making it any less cringe worthy but because I’m building up an immunity to all the sex and violence and weird, terrible. There was, actually, as I’m saying this, there was a line in an episode I recorded last week which is like a part one of a two part season finale. There was something that my character said that I was like, really guys. That’s really dark. But still, it’s always still a pleasure to say. Do you know what I mean? I’m like, oh, yes, I’ll go there but that’s really a dark place.
How much influence do you have in some of the lines?
Judy Greer: Yes. I would say that they will let me do whatever I want. That doesn’t always mean that they keep it in but they’re so cool. They’re like, yes, say it. Sometimes I’ll just try a million different things and when they laugh out loud is when I know I’ve got it. Sometimes I’ll just keep saying the line over and over in a different way until I get that laugh. Then when I get the laugh I’ll say it again exactly the same way so they have it twice.
They’re also so cool if I want to ad lib, change lines, add any sounds, like, not say part of a line because it’s funnier to just say half of it or something. They’re so open to anything. Like, they’re really chill people. I don’t know if it’s because they’re in Atlanta and that’s the south or what but oh my gosh. Like anything goes.
How much fun do you have on the Archer Live! dates and can we expect anymore to happen in the near future?
Judy Greer: Well, 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. Like, 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, weirdoes, 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, 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 someone signing 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.”
For six seasons for an animated series on television, prime time television, is pretty incredible. We know the writing is superb and we know the acting is brilliant. 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?
Judy Greer: Well, I guess it all kind of has to start with the writing, especially in an animated show. We’re not Pixar. Like, 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?
Judy Greer: Yes. I’ve been busy, man. Let’s see, I start going back to my new TV show called Married also on FX. I’ll start that in about a month, maybe a month and a week. 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.
Well, I heard you yawning so you probably work too hard you don’t have much time to sleep.
Judy Greer: Oh my gosh, you know what? I think I have some sort of weird oxygen deficiency. Also, last night we had some of my step son’s friends over and they don’t have school today and the children just would not leave, oh my stars. I was like, I’m always bugging them to have their friends over and then they do and I’m like I’m too old for this.
Do you ever find that you share any character traits with “Cheryl”?
Judy Greer: 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.
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?
Judy Greer: 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.
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?
Judy Greer: 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 [indiscernible]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 McFarland 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.