Tony Hale talks American Ultra, Veep, Arrested Development, and trying not to break on set
The prospect of keeping a straight face around a Veep-ed out Julia Louis-Dreyfus or Will Arnett in full GOB mode sounds almost impossible. Even Tony Hale has trouble with it, he tells EW.
“I’m kind of known to break all the time, which is incredibly unprofessional,” says Hale, who played beleaguered brother Buster Bluth on Arrested Development and recently received his third Emmy nomination for his work as bagman Gary Walsh on Veep. “With Julia it’s become Pavlovian where she just looks at me a certain way and then I’m off. But it was the same way on Arrested Development with Will Arnett. It’s actually in one of the outtakes where we’re in robes and we’re with Liza Minnelli and he says something and I just lose my s—. It’s sad and unprofessional and acting teachers across America are ashamed because I can’t keep it together.”
Hale says some of his co-stars have come up with different methods of keeping calm.
“Julia actually digs her nails into her hands when she is about to laugh. I’m sure she’s bleeding,” says Hale. “But I don’t have the nails, so I have to figure out some kind of tactic to keep myself together.”
Hale can currently be seen in American Ultra, where he plays a federal agent embroiled in the chase for Jesse Eisenberg’s stoned sleeper spy. Unlike, say, Buster or Gary, American Ultra’s Agent Petey Douglas actually has to make some high-stakes decisions.
“In the end, I’m asked to step up to the plate a little bit,” Hale tells EW. “Typically my characters don’t get asked to step up to the plate, so it was kind of nice to have a courageous moment.”
Next up on the plate, of course, is the fifth season of Veep, which will be the show’s first without creater Armando Iannucci.
“I was sad when Armando left because it is a breakup of that family, but this new showrunner Dave Mandel is so fantastic,” Hale says. “Julia has a history with him. He worked on Seinfeld and really knows comedy, so I’m excited for what he’s gonna bring to the table. It’s gonna be different but it’s a good kind of different. She is continually destroying the country. So that will not stop. She’s continually bringing shame on our nation.”
That leaves only the big question: will we see more new Arrested Development any time soon? Hale certainly hopes so. The Netflix-only fourth season experimented with the different types of storytelling opened up by streaming model, focusing each episode on a different character and leaving the audience to put the pieces together. It was innovative, but it received mixed reactions from fans used to the original seasons.
“I just hope it happens because I want to see where the story goes,” he says. “And the thing about the show that I live for, and every cast member lives for, is the element of surprise. I mean, I could enter the fifth season and Buster could be a hip-hop dancer. You have no idea where it’s going. So to have a different Netflix model and do it really as a big puzzle, that was thinking outside the box. And there were many different opinions of it. I think you’re gonna always get that. The risks he takes I have huge admiration for.”
American Ultra is in theaters now.
WANT MORE EW? Subscribe now to keep up with the latest in movies, television and music.