Interview: Judy Greer Keeps ‘ARCHER’ Fresh With Season 6

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ARCHER: Judy Greer in ARCHER airing on FX. CR: FXPreston Barta // Editor

Thursday night TV doesn’t get much better than ARCHER. In its six-season run you can never expect anything shy of a belly hurt from laughter. It’s just that good. One of the many reasons why it’s so good is because of Judy Greer, who voices the wonderful Cheryl Tunt, or Carol— whatever she likes to go by each episode.

We spoke with Judy about why actors big and small gravitate towards voice-characters, reaching its sixth seasons, and her animated character crush on Malory.

Cheryl Tunt (voice of Judy Greer) in ARCHER. Photo courtesy of FX.

Cheryl Tunt (voice of Judy Greer) in ARCHER. Photo courtesy of FX Networks.

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. If we look at your IMDB page we see how much you’ve got going on right now, while 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 or 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 shows. The Simpsons, really; that’s been on for over 25 years now, I think. Like that really broke ground 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, the creator of ARCHER, and the people who make those other smart funny shows, 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. 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 how sassy it is. They’re getting turned onto it because it’s 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.”

You know, to me it just seems surprising and the time has flown by so quickly that you’re already into the sixth season. Does it feel like it’s been six seasons? Do you ever wonder what can they come up with next?

Judy: “Well, I did wonder that 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, we’re always just thrilled every year when we get our pickup. To me, it still feels as fresh. I still laugh out loud every time I read a new script and that’s really rare.”

ARCHER: Episode 13, Season 5 "Archer Vice: Arrival/Departure" (aired Monday, April 21, 2014). Archer helps Lana with the delivery of her baby while Krieger tries to prevent the delivery of a deadly weapon. Written by Adam Reed. Pictured: (L-R) Cheryl Tunt (voice of Judy Greer), Lana Kane (voice of Aisha Tyler). Photo courtesy of FX Networks.

ARCHER: Episode 13, Season 5 “Archer Vice: Arrival/Departure.” Archer helps Lana with the delivery of her baby while Krieger tries to prevent the delivery of a deadly weapon. Written by Adam Reed. Pictured: (L-R) Cheryl Tunt (voice of Judy Greer) and Lana Kane (voice of Aisha Tyler). Photo courtesy of FX Networks.

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: “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.”

You mentioned that nice things are a surprise. I know that usually on ARCHER when we get tuned into the crew at the office they’re kind of at their most despicable in any given moment that we peek in on them. I wanted to know if you wanted to get on the record with a couple of Cheryl’s finer qualities?

Judy: “Man.”

Some good things about her that we could know about.

Judy: “Like, real good things?”

Well, what you think, you know, in defense of your character she can’t always just be drunk and puking.

Judy: “That’s true. She loves her job.”

Right.

Judy: “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.”

OK. I see.

ARCHER: Episode 13, Season 4 "Sea Tunt: Pt. 2." Archer and the ISIS crew go to an underwater SEA LABoratory to stop the deranged Captain Murphy. Pictured: (L-R) Malory Archer (voice of Jessica Walter) Cheryl Tunt (voice of Judy Greer) Pam Poovey (voice of Amber Nash). Photo courtesy of FX Networks.

ARCHER: Episode 13, Season 4 “Sea Tunt: Pt. 2.” Archer and the ISIS crew go to an underwater SEA LABoratory to stop the deranged Captain Murphy. Pictured: (L-R) Malory Archer (voice of Jessica Walter) Cheryl Tunt (voice of Judy Greer) Pam Poovey (voice of Amber Nash). Photo courtesy of FX Networks.

Judy: “And she’s got a simple taste in her wardrobe. I think you’ll notice that she probably never changes her clothes.”

She’s true to her fashion.

Judy: “She is. I heard that Albert Einstein just had all the same things in his closet. I feel like Cheryl could be likened to that.”

Yes. Kind of like Steve Jobs and have a uniform.

Judy: “Yes. She really does. In fact, they all do and it’s fantastic.”

Oh, before I go, I have a confession to make. I kind of have a crush on the character you voice. She’s a very cute animated character. So I was curious to know if you’ve ever had a crush on an animated character before?

Judy: “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 something. But I don’t know. I can’t think of one that I have. But if I was going to have a crush on a character, I mean, 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?”

Yes. For sure.

Judy: “I always get what I want out of that character. She’s so fabulous.”

ARCHER airs tonight 10 p.m. E/P, 9 p.m. CT, only on FX.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.