The actor discusses the role, the show's funniest moments and a possible Arrested Development movie
Every so often a television show comes on the air that takes on the level of art. It is so brilliant in it's use of comedy that ends being ahead of it's time. It gathers a rabid fanbase but that base isn't enough to sustain it amidst the demands of network TV. So this show goes off the air and is mourned by all who love it.
Arrested Development is that show.
Right before the release of Arrested Development: Season 3, we were honored to interview Tony Hale who played Byron "Buster" Bluth during this show's three season run. As a character who is the ultimate momma's boy, Hale imbued Buster with a sense of ever impending neuroticism. Considering the cast (and the cast of characters) that made up the Bluth family, Hale has to be given every credit for standing out as much he did in this heavily talent laden show.
Did you have any idea when you first started doing Arrested Development that it was going to be one of the best television show's ever?
Tony Hale: (Laughs) No. I had no idea. I was living in New York at the time and I auditioned for it in New York and I read the script. I'm a huge fan of Christopher Guest movies and it just reminded me a lot of that and the writing was awesome. I knew I would like the show because it was my style of humor. It was just a blast to do it so it was a win-win.
A lot of my friends who love the show, simply say that "Americans are stupid" which is why the show didn't catch on all over the country...
Tony Hale: I think it's such a weird thing because my wife and I laugh at it, but my Mom and Dad were kind of like, "Uhmmm... yeah it's cute." They didn't really get it so I think it's just different strokes for different folks. Some people just didn't get it. It's one of the things you gotta watch several times to get the jokes. The jokes weren't fed to you easily, you've got to really pay attention and a lot of people don't want to pay attention with comedy. Of course, they'll pay attention to CSI.
My parents thought that when I would have a pratfall or something would fall on top me, they'd be like, "Oh, that's hilarious." But everything else they were just kind of like, "Uhhh, this is kind of confusing." I'm falling or bleeding or something, my parents will die laughing. Anything else, they just kind of look confused.
What was the atmosphere like on the set? Was it as freewheeling as it seemed on the show? Were you allowed to try things?
Tony Hale: We were allowed to try things but we didn't dare try because the script was too good. The scripts were so fantastic that we just didn't really want to go off the page. Then at times, I would make a suggestion or something and they'd politely listen but then they'd come up with a suggestion and I'd just want to eat my words. Like, "Oh yeah, mine's stupid." (Laughs) Because they were so good at what they did.
With so many talented comedians in the room, how did you guys ever get through a scene and scatter so many inside jokes within each episode?
Tony Hale: To be honest, I was probably the worst culprit. I was the one that kind of busted all the time. I could not do a scene with Will Arnett. He wouldn't even speak but I would just look at him, and I really couldn't keep it together. I was probably the one that busted up the most. All those guys, their timing was just unbelievable and each person did their character so well that it was incredibly difficult, it really was.
Do you have a favorite Arrested Development episode?
Tony Hale: I do. In the first season I loved the one "Bringing Up Buster." Where I have inner angst with my mother and it comes out in cussing rants. I love that. I loved when my hand was bitten off and Buster kind of had a ghost hand. He didn't really completely realize his hand was gone. So he would give massages to Uncle Oscar. Then he would have a phantom hand and he would realize it, then he would go on a cussing rant to Michael Bluth. Anytime Buster's inner angst came out it was just an awesome, awesome joy to do.
What do you think was the funniest thing the show ever did?
Tony Hale: The thing about this show is it's hard to pinpoint one because each week we would get the script, and we'd be like, "What! You've got to be kidding me!" And there were either so many surprises in there... all of the sudden Job is sent off to Iraq to do Christian magic jokes. It's just like, "What?!?" One of my favorite jokes in the entire season is Tobias's analysis. Stuff like that just made me cry.
Was there any degree of being awestruck working with Henry Winkler, Scott Baio and Ron Howard?
Tony Hale: Yeah, especially when they come up to me and they're like, "By the way, Liza Minnelli is gonna be your love interest." Henry Winkler, I was raised on Happy Days, even having Ron Howard around... I was kind of shellshocked by. This was my first show. I did mainly commercials before this. This was my first gig so to be able to be given these chances to work with these people, and not just the guest stars but the awesome Jeffrey Tambor... the whole thing was one big gift.
Martin Short? I've watched him for years. When the bodyguard carried him in because he had no use of his legs, that whole thing was one big... me just trying to keep it in. I wish there were hidden cameras because I can't keep it together.
With all the talk of resurrecting the show elsewhere, why do you think we're not seeing another season of the show?
Tony Hale: You know, I think it's a lot of different factors. I think each season we were so on the bubble that after we shot the first thirteen episodes of the third season, and we were kind of just in limbo for a couple of months, not knowing when we were coming back, I think we all had to make plans that the show was not going to continue. Then Showtime put an offer on the table and there was just a lot of different opinions. Then it was hard to pull everybody together but now they're talking about a movie. I don't know if that's true but hopefully we'll be able to come together again. The last thing I heard was when we did the commentary for the third season DVD. Mitch Hurwitz was there and he said that he had talked to people about a movie, and... it's one of those things where everybody is really busy right now so who knows? That would just be incredible because it would be like having four episodes together! It's really hard to cram all of that stuff into 22 minutes.
When the show wrapped up did they let you keep the hook?
Tony Hale: That hook man... it's a funny thing because they never could decide if they wanted the hook or the prosthetic hand. Somedays I'd have a prosthetic hand, somedays I'd have the hook. It was really hot in the hook and they had to tape the sleeve, because they had to make my sleeve longer, to make it equal. I didn't keep it but I kinda wanted to. That's another thing because after the the thirteenth episode... it was still kinda like, we might possibly come back. So we didn't grab mementos and I wish that I grabbed a couple of things.
Well, we're all sad to see the Bluth family go, is there anything Buster would like to say to his fans as he bids them "Farewell"?
Tony Hale: Hopefully, I will not bid them farewell because Buster was just such a headcase that if I got the opportunity to do it again, that would just be awesome. So, I'm hoping that that will not be the last time. I would love for the Bluth's to come together again, hopefully, it won't be the last time.
Arrested Development: Season 3 comes out August 29 through Fox Home Entertainment.