Arts & Culture

'Veep' and 'Arrested Development' actor Tony Hale to speak at NC State

Actor Tony Hale.
Actor Tony Hale. GETTY

On the Fox/Netflix sitcom “Arrested Development,” Tony Hale plays Buster Bluth, the poorly adjusted mama’s boy to Jessica Walter’s caustic matriarch. On HBO’s “Veep,” he’s Gary Walsh, the groveling assistant to the vice president. Saturday, this Emmy recipient appears at N.C. State’s Hunt Library to support his new children’s book, “Archibald’s Next Big Thing,” and to discuss his career. Yet this isn’t just another appearance for Hale – his sister Kim Andreaus is a lecturer with N.C. State’s Master of Social Work program.

“I love, love, love my sister – she’s an amazing woman,” Hale said. “She wanted to organize this thing, and a portion of the funds are going to the Department of Social Work.”

While Hale’s proud of his sister’s career, his own is going well – a new season of “Veep” is coming up, and upcoming films include the 2015 comedy “Yoga Hosers,” which also stars Johnny Depp.

Hale’s personal philosophy, though, and message at the core of his book, is enjoying the moment – something he admits can be tough in the entertainment industry. We caught up with Hale to talk about writing, acting and living in the now.

Q: Did you ever see yourself becoming an author?

A: I never really saw myself as an author. I loved acting and I liked scriptwriting; I’ve written a couple of scripts.

When I’ve talked to students or any group like that, I’ve always encouraged them not to look at the next big thing but to focus on all the little things around them. And that whole discipline of mindfulness and contentment, it was something I loved talking about. So when the idea of the children’s book came up, it just kind of happened.

Q: Getting that lesson to people while they are still young.

A: After I shot “Arrested Development” and finished that, my daughter was born in 2006. One thing kids do give you is the gift of now – I had to be present.

My daughter’s probably a little too sick of me talking about that (laughs). Honestly, I probably wrote the book about it and talk about it a lot, but I’m not really great at it. I have to remind myself on a daily basis. I think of it as the discipline of contentment. It’s a discipline I’m trying to get better at.

Q: Speaking of your daughter, Loy, how does she feel about being a character in the book?

A: She loves it. It was fun, because she helped design the way the character looked. And then we kind of talked about what would Loy want to do. It was really fun including her, kind of doing that together.

Q: What are you going to touch on in your talk at NCSU?

A: A lot of students are aspiring to be an artist or a director or a writer. Having been in the business for almost 20 years, it’s really fun to talk about and answer questions about things I’ve learned and tell fun stories on “Arrested Development” and “Veep.” It’s a purely freelance career, and it’s gig to gig and you get used to that.

Most people go on job interviews for two or three months and then they have a job for two or three years. I’m in a business where you’re on a job interview for two or three years, and you’re lucky if you get a job for two or three months. Your job is a job interview. Your job is putting yourself out there, and with that comes a lot of rejection.

Q: How about when you’ve put a character to bed, and you have to pull that character back out seven years later, like with Buster Bluth?

A: That was crazy! I was pretty nervous about that. (“Arrested Development”) had kind of created this different life after it was finished, with DVDs and Netflix and stuff like that, and a lot of expectations were put on that season when we came back. And I hadn’t lived in Buster’s shoes in a long time. But once I heard Jessica Walter’s voice, once I heard her degrading, passive-aggressive, abusive tone, it was just like this Pavlovian response. I was like, “I’m back! Buster’s back!”

Q: I love the dynamic you and Jessica Walter have on that show.

A: It’s the most co-dependent, dysfunctional, terrifying actions that they do together.

Q: I was watching you in the Lady Antebellum “Bartender” music video, and it’s almost like you’re a more aggressive character in music videos.

A: The characters I’ve been doing the most are Gary from “Veep” and Buster, and they’re pretty passive, kind of withdrawn. I guess with some of the other jobs it’s fun to let loose and be just a bulldozer of aggressiveness. That bartender in Lady Antebellum, he’s such a jerk. Music videos, they’re super-fun. All of the boundaries are taken away. It’s so fun just to let loose and go crazy.

Gary and Buster haven’t had many of those moments. Buster had a couple. He had one where he went on this cussing rant toward his mother, which they beeped out, which was fun. But Gary hasn’t really had any of those.

Q: Do you think the Gary character is going to be in the shadows; do you think that’s where that character lives?

A: My dream is that one day he’s just going to fully explode. One of these days Gary is just going to let loose, and I can’t wait for that to happen. He’s just going to absolutely lose his mind.