At this year’s SDCC, I had a chance to hear from the cast of Archer as they discuss what we can expect from season 7. They were pretty tight-lipped spoiler-wise, but the overall theme throughout the interviews was that there are big power shifts coming with our favorite group of dysfunctional spies.
Here are the highlights of the roundtable Q&A:
Jessica Walter (Malory Archer)
A: We’ve done two episodes so far, and am always surprised by how good the writing is, and how smart and sophisticated it is. Adam Reed writes about every single one, and he never disappoints.
Q: Who do you think is the worse mother, Malory, or Lucille (Bluth, Arrested Development)?
A: They are sort of equally difficult, but the both love their children. They just don’t know how to show it. Archer and Buster are similar in many ways, they are both very dependent on their mothers.
Q: Where does the anger come from in the acting? There’s a distinct frustration with it.
A: It’s the characters I play. If I were to play a “Miss Sweet Vanilla Ice Cream” gal it would be there, but I never get those roles. I think I’m lucky because the roles I play are more interesting. They require some research into why they are they way they are.
Q: Is there something you want for Malory to experience that the rest of the cast has gotten to voice?
A: Maybe a better relationship with her husband Ron Cadillac (played by her real-life husband Ron Leibman).
Q: How is your first time to San Diego? How are you reacting to all the cosplay?
A: Well, we have that in New York, too (New York Comic-Con, which she has attended), but this is a MUCH bigger scale. The people and fans are so nice. It’s gratifying that people are watching and enjoying the show, it means a lot to the actors.
Q: Was there any cartoons or animation that influenced you when doing this?
A: Two things: The first movie I ever saw was Bambi, and the TV show Dinosaurs. I played the mother on that show, and the writing was SO well done. I would say that and Archer are my two favorites. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m in both of them.
A: That’s right. This is the first year we aren’t allowed to say anything, which is weird because we usually show an entire episode [at their SDCC panel]. We have some exclusive material that we created JUST for Comic-Con.
Q: Is that because there’s going to be a big dynamic change?
A: There IS. We were essentially spies for hire. Then we got disavowed and we had to turn to drug dealing to make a living which we didn’t do very well. I don’t know HOW we’re still in business, we haven’t been very good at anything we’ve ever done. Now the team is trying to find a way to keep the doors open and the lights on, and they way we figure that out is going to be very interesting.
Q: Is Abbiejean still a baby, or did they pull a sitcom aging trick.
A: Abbiejean is 17 years old, has seven boyfriends and is driving. No, she’s still a baby. Obviously Archer and Lana had a shift in their relationship last season which I thought was great. I don’t want them to be together, but it was awesome to see what they were probably like the first time they dated. She still has to co-parent with [Archer] and he’s a total douche, and can barely get his pants on in the morning. Not REALLY the guy you want to stay with long term.
Q: From season 1 to now, could you ever have imagined how your character has progressed?
A: No. I read 10 pages of the first script, and knew Adam from Sealab, and thought “This show is NEVER going to go.” It’s way too smart and way to funny to make it on the air. When Adam called me to tell me the show was picked up, I was [very surprised]. Every year since then has been a delight and a mystery, and we’re so proud of it. If the show had a chance to grow, it would do some exciting things. I’d love us to go as long as the Simpsons, but I don’t think Adam wants to go that long.
Q: Is Lana based on anyone in particular?
A: Visually she was based on someone that looks nothing like me, but as the seasons go on has looked more and more like me. She has certain mannerism of mine Adam has written into the show. She’s a radder version of me that makes terrible decisions and picks terrible guys but is a kick-ass spy. When we met younger Lana, that was taken from my life. She made Lana a Dartmouth graduate. While my parents aren’t college professors, I did grow up in the Bay Area, just like Lana.
Adam Reed (Series Creator and Ray Gillette)
A: Every once in awhile we do these episodes that are sort of backstories of the characters, and I don’t know if it’s subconscious, but we use that to change things up a bit. It’s get us out of the “mission of the week” temptation. They’re also fun to write.
Q: Any difference with how you approach writing now than when you first started the show?
A: I don’t smoke anymore. It used to be pounding tobacco and staying up for days at a time, but now I only write in the daytime.
Q: Will we ever find out who is Archer’s father?
A: Yeah, but not until the very last episode. Hopefully that’s going to be a long way off.
Q: Do you have an ending in mind?
A: I’ve given thought to how the last episode will look like, but it’s not going to be anytime soon.
Q: Anything this season as obscure as Michael Gray from Shazam?
A: That’s going to be hard. We don’t have anything that obscure YET, but I’m only writing episode 3, so we are still early on, so we have plenty of time to get really obscure. He turned out to be a lovely man.
Q: Do you have a favorite character to write for?
A: All of them. This sounds dumb, but they each make me laugh in their own way. I like the origin stories of the characters because it helps dig a little deeper into who they are. They’re all different, but all enjoyable to write for.
Q: When the entire cast gets together at events like this, do you do have any bonding time?
A: We DO. FX always puts together a nice dinner for us, and this is the only time of year we are all together. It’s extra special because Jessica Walter is here, and this is her first time. Judy (Greer) is always off doing a movie so it’s really great to have everyone here.
Judy Greer (Cheryl Tunt)
A: Yeah. I am a fan of the show in addition to being on it, so I get as excited to read the scripts as the audience does watching them. I can never predict what Adam Reed is going to do next and that’s what makes them so fun to read.
Q: Has there ever been anything you’ve had to say in a script where you’ve said “I just can’t.”
No. Never. Sometimes I don’t understand some of the political or pop culture references and I have to ask them what things mean, but for the most part I will SAY anything. If the show was live action, I don’t think I could play this role.
Q: If Cheryl came to Comic-Con, who do you think she would cosplay as?
A: That’s a great question. I feel she would want to do a full make up situation, like a werewolf. I played a werewolf in a movie and Rick Baker did the make up and did a test for it, and the makeup was SO cool. I understand why people dress up here like they do.
A: Yeah, they do. Adam has such a depth of knowledge of the world and events that it can go anywhere. It’s always fun to read, and there’s always something there that will make me laugh out loud. They’re fun to read.
A: Jerry’s a lot sadder in a way than Cyril. Cyril has some responsibility in the agency. They have slightly different voices, but it’s mostly in the writing more than the actual voice.
Q: Is there something you would love to read in the script that Cyril will get to do?
A: I would LOVE to see Cyril kick Archer’s ass. That would be exciting.
Q: Do you feel that with Cyril getting dumped on all the time that he could eventually snap and become the season’s “big bad”?
A: It’s possible. He’s snapped a few times in the series, and in the new season he will have some new responsibilities in name only that he will want the rest of the characters to respect.
Casey Willis (Executive Producer)
Q: There’s a lot of changes going on in this season, but we can’t talk about it.
A: Ha. No, we can’t. I WILL say that some power shifts in the relationships occur.
Q: Any hint about Woodhouse?
A: I know there’s a plan. If it goes off, it’s going to be pretty hilarious. There’s a plan. He’s been off doing something, and it’s a pretty great joke if and when we get to it.
Q: How many episodes have you worked on for the new season?
A: We’ve recorded two so far and are working on the third. Patton Oswalt is going to be in the new season, and he’s doing a great job. He’s an Archer fan, so that helps.
Q: Is there any celebrity you were surprised turned down a part when asked?
A: We’ve been really lucky to get everybody. I can’t really think of anyone who’s passed.
Q: Are there characters that you were surprised that fans latched onto as the series went on?
A: What surprised me the most were people cosplaying as Krieger and Anime-Bride. The fan following for her is amazing to me because she’s just a hologram.
Q: Is there any idea that you’ve wanted to do but haven’t done yet?
Lucky Yates (Krieger)
A: It’s all Adam Reed. I’m just happy to be involved. At the core of it, it’s about that group and their relationships. Like any relationship it changes over time. This season there’s some status shifts adding some new dynamics to the group. It’s pretty great.
Q: How do you prepare for the role?
A: I love Krieger so much that I enjoy just saying his words. It’s all about reading the scripts and knowing what you’re talking about.
Q: Do you ever get to ad-lib?
A: It’s so limited because the writing is so good. Our time to ad-lib is mostly for group reactions.
Q: What do you think Krieger would think of Comic-Con?
A: My god, he would be the best cosplayer ever! That guy would rule. He’d build something big and mechanical. He’d be one of the big things from Pacific Rim.
Amber Nash (Pam Poovey)
A: We’ve recorded two episodes so far, and I say this every year but it’s true: It gets funnier every season. I think Adam’s really charged up this season because it’s so different and fun.
Q: Are you still having fun playing Pam?
A: It’s the best thing ever. What’s so cool is that Pam has changed so much over the years. I just went back and read the pilot script for Archer, and the first scene where Pam is introduced, it says “Pam sits behind a desk. She’s the mousy HR director,” and I thought “MOUSEY?” She’s totally not that anymore.
Q: Is there a time in the script where you didn’t want to say a line?
A: No, because they’re all pretty funny.
Q: Do you do any method acting?
A: Not really. The great thing with voice acting is that you can come in looking any way you want and just say what’s written. After being on hiatus, I have to work on getting back into the voice, because it’s so different from my own. The voice comes from when my mom would talk to me.
Q: Do you miss cocaine Pam?
A: You know, I really miss cocaine Pam. But I will say I said the word “cocaine” about a million times during the season. I am glad to go back to old Pam, though.
What do you guys think? Are you ready for Archer season 7? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.
IMAGES: FX, Donnie Lederer