Tony Hale has made a name for himself playing somewhat pathetic characters.
As a member of TV's favorite dysfunctional family, Hale's Buster Bluth on "Arrested Development" is a little too close to his mother (Jessica Walter) and has a hook in place of his hand. On "Veep," he's Gary, Vice President Selina Meyer's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) personal aide who is all too willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.
"Both Gary and Buster see life very differently," Hale told The Huffington Post in a recent phone interview.
"Gary does step up to the plate when he needs to, but it's a big deal for Buster to step out of his house," he said.
"Veep" recently kicked off its second season on HBO and the political comedy is going to new places (literally, Helsinki) and adding some new faces to the mix. Read on below to see what Hale had to say about the new season of "Veep" and what putt-putt has to do with it.
Gary and Buster are sort of similar characters. How do you feel about playing these meek men being bossed around by crazy women?
I know. The thing is, I think they are similar, but also look at Gary for instance: There was one time when Gary blocked what he called a "sneeze bullet," where someone was sneezing and he put his body in front of Selina so that she wouldn't get germs. Of course, he thought he was taking a bullet for the veep. If that was Buster, there would absolutely be no way he would step up to the plate like that. He would just be rocking in the corner. Gary does step up to the plate when he needs to, but it's a big deal for Buster to step out of his house. [But] there is a very unhealthy connection between both of them.
Does that thread make you evaluate anything in your life?
Exactly. It's like, "Hmm, what does this say about me?" Both Gary and Buster see life very differently. I think I mentioned this once before to somebody, but Selina would be screaming at Gary and it's like he doesn't hear it. He hears "Chicken Soup for the Soul." He hears something completely opposite from what she's saying. He just bounces right back. He's got this protective shield in front of him that he just doesn't hear what Selina's saying. She's always in the ethereal light in his world.
We're seeing a little bit of Gary's personal life this season with Jessica St. Clair playing his girlfriend. Will she push Gary to be a little more aggressive or change his world view in any way?
I think definitely the pattern is staying with dominating women. I wouldn't say it's a partnership; I would say he's still dominated by his new girlfriend. I think he likes that role a little bit. I'm trying to think if that would change. He's kind of in a constant state of walking on eggshells around women. He's also asked to do things that men should never have to do. [Laughs] Last year, he had to break up with Selina's boyfriend for her. I'm sure there are plenty of things behind the scenes that are just even more humiliating.
When you first started "Veep," did the writers give you any kind of background about Gary?
No, we didn't really go into background. I know that he's been working with Selina for almost 20 years -- since she was a senator. He's been with her for a very long time -- I don't know if it's 20 -- so he doesn't really know life outside of Selina. I think he's just one of those guys who, in his off time, stocks up his bag. He takes care of his bag like it's his pet. He loves going to work. He loves it because he feels like he's stepping into living again. Him being isolated at home is not attractive. Any time he can get work and be around her, it's new life again. He loves adventure and he'll take whatever abuse necessary.
For some reason, I think Gary does a lot of putt-putt golf. I think that might be an activity that he might detox with. He kind of goes off and finds a putt-putt golf place and that's the way he kind of unwinds, which is really sad.
What would be in your bag if you had one?
What would be in my bag? Well, I have a 7-year-old daughter so I'm sure it would be a lot of stuff for her. I don't know. That's a tough question. It'd be so easy if it was my character's bag. I can't think of my personal bag -- that's just too boring. Maybe some Chapstick.
Who do you think would win this sort of pathetic fight: Gary from "Veep" or Buster Bluth?
Gary would dominate. Actually, I think someone would place them in a ring to fight and they would look at the guy who rings the bell at the boxing match with faces of "Wait, you want us to fight?" And then they would look at each other and just be like, "I can't fight you." Gary would probably counsel Buster about his childhood wounds and Buster would be in a ball crying. Then Gary would probably start crying and then they'd be friends.
A friend of mine sent me this link which I thought was hilarious. It was on this website called FakeAnything.com and there's a Tumblr as if Buster and Gary were long lost brothers. [Laughs.] It is really, really sad and hilarious.
What can you tell me about the rest of "Veep" Season 2?
We go to Helsinki because the president has given Selina a lot more responsibility. The whole thing about the show is it's one humiliation after the next because all of a sudden, there's excitement, like in the first episode, she's given more responsibility in foreign policy and then in last week's episode, she's sent to a hog roast. It's like a roller coaster of shame, just up and down. And of course, Gary is by her side the entire time. He'll never leave her. He's just always her lap dog. The thought of him leaving Selina is pretty much emotional suicide. That can't even come into his world because his identity is so based in her, so he will constantly be there. She could leave her position -- which would never happen -- and he would be her butler.
I think I'd watch that still.
That's the spinoff!
"After Veep." I know Gary Cole is there and Kevin Dunn has joined and Alison Janney is coming, but do you have anybody you'd like to see guest star?
Oh wow. I don't know who I'd like to see guest star on "Veep." Alison Janney having been on "West Wing" is kind of a fun parallel. Maybe we can get all "The West Wing" actors on.
"Veep" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.