There is nothing better than looking forward to Thursday nights. Mainly because I know that the FX series ARCHER is just waiting for me. There has never been, in six seasons, any doubt that crazy laughter is about to ensue.
One of the craziest characters if Cheryl voiced by Judy Greer. Nominated for her voice acting in 2012 for an Annie Award, she continues to crack me up. The first time I experienced Greer was her reoccurring role in Arrested Development and again in the film THE WEDDING PLANNER and LOVE HAPPENS.
Quickly she was everywhere! But with each film or television show appearance, she continues her role as Cheryl in ARCHER and I can’t thank her enough for that. Having the chance to speak with her, Greer gives us straight answers filled with humor – in other words my kind of gal!
Good morning Judy, how are you?
You are in your sixth season of ARCHER; do you wonder what could possibly happen next?
Well, I did wonder that, I guess, after the fourth season and then there wasArcher 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 been very busy doing films, how do you manage films and voice-over for ARCHER?
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.
Since ARCHER is doing the back to basics, it was time to say goodbye to Cherlene.
I know. What a drag.
Are you going to miss her and do you have something else this season to kind of take its place?
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.
So you are doing some babysitting this season?
I know. The babies become a real pain in our a**, man. We’re expected to deal with this baby a lot which we were not ready for. But it makes for a good comedy.
After six seasons is there anything that still surprises you or are you use to the craziness that comes your way?
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.
Do you think the series being animated allows the show to get away with more than if it were an actually show?
I mean, I don’t think I would do this stuff live action that my character does animated. I feel like that would make me really uncomfortable. It’s also like really freeing to be able to do it the way that we do, you know? It’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty cool to be able to be in something that’s so raunchy and so disgusting but be able to get away with it and not be raunchy and disgusting. Yes. It’s a really nice treat at least for me. I like it because I enjoy this kind of humor but, like I said, it probably wouldn’t be something I’d be comfortable doing in person.
Do you ever ask yourself ‘what am I even saying!’ sometimes?
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.”
Have you had a crush on an animated character?
That’s a really good question. Gosh, off the top of my head I’m going to say no. But I’m sure if I really thought about it for a while I could think of one Yes. I don’t know. Probably not but I’m not going to say. I can’t think of one that I have. But if I was going to have a crush on a character, I mean, I don’t know. I might have to say it would be like Malory. Malory is so funny to me but also I just love Jessica Walter so much so maybe that’s why. She’s just the best. She’s so funny. There’s the thing about, I guess, because now at this point I feel like Malory is predictable but like never disappointing, you know. I always get what I want out of that character. She’s so fabulous.
Going from Cheryl to Cherlene do you change up your attitude?
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.
Do you have much input about Cheryl and did any of it make you cringe?
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.
I would have to say that less lately about the cringing. 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 have people scream, “You’re not my supervisor?
Yes, 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.
Can you tell us something good about Cheryl?
She loves her job. 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. I think 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.
How much fun was it for you to do ARCHER Live?
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.”
What do you think brings people back to ARCHER season after season?
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.
You have also started the series MARRIED also with FX.
Yes. 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.
Cheryl just absolutely tortures Malory with redesigning the office exactly the way it was. What is it between the two of them?
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 and Cheryl have anything in common?
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.
I’ve been to Comic Con and the fans are nuts for ARCHER. What do you think about the fans?
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.
What do you think brings actors into animation?
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.
Are there any surprises in the finale you can hint at, especially about Cheryl in season seven?
I would love for her to maybe get to like do some missions. She does get to help with one mission this season. I probably can’t really spoil anything for the season finale or the guys will fly to L.A. from Atlanta and beat me up. So I can’t share anything about that but it really blew my mind when I read it. I’ve only read the first part. I haven’t read the second one yet. I haven’t recorded it but it’s pretty amazing. It’s kind of mind-blowing.
I don’t know. I’m really happy with where Cheryl’s at. I think its fun when she got to help out on a mission. That was really fun. But I know she’d just screw it up. I also think that maybe that’s a bad idea. I don’t know. I like when Cheryl and Pam are up to no good. It makes me really happy when the two of them like get an idea and then it’s so bad and it ruins everything. It makes me really happy.
How are you feeling about Lana pushing babysitting duties around?
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 make 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.
It makes us laugh too Judy, thank you so much for joining us today and remember Archer, in its sixth season, airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on FX.