Whether you became familiar with Tony Hale from his role as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development or during his time as Gary Walsh on Veep, it's safe to say the longtime actor and comedian knows a thing or two about TV. But unless you're perusing the children's books aisle at your local bookstore, you may not have realized that Hale is also an author. In 2012, he wrote a children's book that was made into a TV series — and the third installment comes out in February 2021.
Hale tells us about the animated series, what it's like to write and act on a children's TV series, and the similarities between the main character in Archibald's Next Big Thing Is Here and Gary from Veep. It could ultimately be your new (kid-friendly) binge-watch.
Tony Hale absolutely adores Archibald, the character he created.
Archibald's Next Big Thing Is Here is the third installment of Hale's beloved animated series, Archibald's Next Big Thing. It tells the story of Archibald Strutter, a goofy, bubbly chicken, who is somehow able to stay positive through thick and thin as he stumbles through misadventures in the fictitious town of Crackridge. With a little help from his siblings, Sage, Finley, and Loy; and his BFF, Bea, Archibald is truly unstoppable.
Hale loves the positivity and goofiness of his series, calling Archibald his "role model."
"[The show] is one of my favorite things I’ve worked on — it genuinely is," he says. "This chicken, Archibald, makes a lot of mistakes, but his attitude towards his mistakes is always positive — he sees the best in everyone, the best in every situation. He’s so funny, he’s got this great family around him, and his attitude towards life and all these stories we have with him is so fun to work with."
"Honestly, with all that’s going on in the world this year, this chicken has become my role model, I just love everything about him. He’s a blast," Hale continues.
"Crackridge is made of all these crazy characters, and there are so many new stories to come from this world. It gets quirkier, and crazier, and funnier — [Archibald] is the best! He really is."
Archibald is somewhat based on a compilation of Tony Hale's favorite TV characters.
Although the story of Archibald's adventures is solely based on the character from Hale's 2014 children's book, he found inspiration from a few of his TV favorites... which included a few of his past roles. Hale says the strange noises Archibald makes — and his hilarious facial expressions — are reminiscent of Veep's Gary, and sometimes, even Arrested Development's Buster Bluth.
"My character on Veep didn’t say much, but he made all these odd noises and lived in the nonverbal a lot, and one of my favorite things about [Archibald] is how sometimes, he’ll just go, 'HUH?'" Hale laughs. "I remember I was doing Veep and at the same time I was writing and editing [for Archibald] — obviously, working on Veep is a little more adult, but the kind of mannerisms definitely carried over, so that was a blast. Both Gary and Buster from Arrested Development both are kind of wide-eyed."
Hale also draws inspiration from his favorite Muppet for the character of Archibald.
"One of my favorite characters growing up was Beaker from The Muppets Show — I was obsessed! Archibald reminds me of Beaker. He didn’t have to say much, but I just laughed at him. I just thought he was hilarious… I kind of always saw Gary Walsh on Veep that way — he would just stand by Selena and just make these ridiculous nonverbals, because she just wouldn’t let him speak," he continued.
Tony Hale loves the creative freedom of working on an animated series.
"I work with this fantastic team of writers," Hale says, "and DreamWorks helped produce the show with incredible animators. So, for the past four years, I’ve been working on this show, and we create the stories — I don’t know how many stories we’ve created. We're catering to kids, but the thing why I love it so much is because it's such a simple message. Yes, he makes a lot of mistakes, but his attitude towards those mistakes — they don’t get him down, and somehow those mistakes are used in the bigger picture."
"And when he meets someone, he’s so open to it. Obviously, Veep came from a very cynical mindset, and playing with Archibald was just the opposite. He came in and said ‘what’s coming at me?’ There was an episode that was a take on Big Foot — the whole town was like ‘what’s up with this character,’ and Archibald was like, ‘hey, I'm Archibald' and became friends with him, and you started to learn the bigger story with his character... It’s stuff like that i’m crazy about," he tells us.
But the best part? The creative freedom. With a team of talented DreamWorks animators, they can make any storyline come to life, Hale says, and that makes it all the more fun.
"[Creativity] is another thing with Archibald that I always appreciated — with animation, the storylines can go wherever they want. There’s an episode called Lake Ball Pit where they go to a camp, and it’s not a lake, it’s a lake that’s a ball pit. You don't have to restrict your creativity," he explains.
Hale's new show may be for kids, but honestly, it sounds like the hilarious mood-booster all of us could use right now.
Stream Archibald's Next Big Thing Is Here on Peacock on Thursday, Feb. 18.