For Judy Greer, the question of what shocking, raunchy, boundary-testing dialogue Archer creator Adam Reed will write for her character Cheryl is pretty much moot: It’s coming, it’ll be insane, and she’ll deliver it with a wicked glee.
As FX’s animated spy comedy continues its sixth season, Greer is well aware that just about anything goes, and as she revealed in a recent conference call with reporters, even if its’ something she’d balk at in live-action there’s no holding her back on Archer.
On whether she wondered if the show could sustain six seasons:
Judy Greer: Well, I did wonder that, I guess, 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. I think that they’ve managed to keep the level – it stays as funny or it doesn’t seem like they’re losing energy or steam at all when they’re writing. It feels just as fresh as the beginning to me, honestly.
On balancing her Archer schedule with the demands of her live-action career:
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. Wherever 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 [that] 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.
On saying goodbye to Cheryl’s country music-singing alter ego:
This season has been crazy. I’m going to miss Cherlene, but all good things must come to an end, I guess. I feel like they 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.
On how the arrival of Lana and Archer’s baby affects the entire team:
The baby’s become a real pain in our ass, man. We’re expected to deal with this baby a lot, which we were not ready for. But it makes for a good comedy.
First of all, 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 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 makes 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.
On whether the scripts’ outrageousness still catch her off-guard:
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, “i>What?” because it was kind of awesome.
On whether Archer could get away with its boundary-crossing if it were not an animated series:
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. 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.
On whether she ever needs to ask what it is she’s saying, exactly:
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, “OK, how would anyone know that? Why would anybody know that? You’re all crazy.”
On the frequency of cringe-inducing lines, even for her:
I would have to say that there are less lately. 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. Actually, as I’m saying this, there was a line in an episode I recorded last week, which is 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 know what I mean? I’m like, “Oh, yes, I’ll go there but that’s really a dark place.”
On her own influence over the dialogue:
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, 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.
On Cheryl’s rare admirable qualities:
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. 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. I heard that Albert Einstein just had all the same things in his closet. I feel like Cheryl could be likened to that.
On the character traits she thinks she shares with Cheryl:
I kind of find that I want to, but 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.
On Archer‘s inherent appeal to its loyal audience:
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 arc. 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. I’ve recorded just last week the first of the two-part season finale and it’s just as funny and weird and exciting. 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.
On watching the fanbase for Archer grow with each passing season:
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 2,000 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.
On where she’d like to take Cheryl next:
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’m really happy with where Cheryl’s at. I think it’s 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 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.
On whether she gets requests to scream “You’re not my supervisor!”:
Yes – 100 percent. 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.
Archer airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.
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