'Veep' Star Tony Hale on the "Huge Gift" of Gary's Sad Farewell
The Emmy-nominated actor reflects on the betrayal suffered by his character, that infamous man bag — and his joyful upcoming animation project.
The Veep series finale pulled no punches, and Tony Hale's character, Gary Walsh, was dealt the heaviest blow. Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) ultimately threw her loyal, long-suffering bag man under the campaign bus, and now, Hale fans may not be able to look at a handful of almonds — the proffered snack so cruelly rejected by Selina — without tearing up.
"Six almonds will never be the same," the two-time Emmy winner tells THR with a laugh. Though Gary's efforts might have been thankless, Hale, 48, has earned a supporting actor nom for his role on the HBO show's seventh and final season. In the run-up to the ceremony, he discussed Gary's melancholic fate and his new Netflix kids series, Archibald's Next Big Thing.
Have you received emotional fan responses since the finale aired?
I've had people say, "I can't believe Selina did that to you!" and all that kind of stuff. I actually have a different perspective on it. I think it was a huge gift to Gary that it happened because he was in such an addictive cycle with her and was completely ignorant and blind to her abuse. This is the only thing that would've snapped him out of it. So, it was a blessing in disguise. He was probably in prison for 15, 20 years, and I'm pretty sure he was in there for the first five years going, "She's coming back! She's coming back!" And then, by the sixth year, he was probably like, "Well, maybe I should dive in and start examining myself."
If you could give him an alternate ending, what would it be?
Gary was so detached from his own identity that the best times in his life with Selina were when she was doped up on St. John's Wort and when she was in the mental institution — which she called "the spa." Any time that she's not in her right mind and on meds, that's Gary's happy place because she realizes the massive need she has for him. So, in an ideal world, he would go back to putting her on St. John's Wort just to get that Selina back.
Gary kept things in his bag to soothe Selina. What carry-ons would soothe you?
Those pretzels with peanut butter in them from Trader Joe's. I would definitely have a picture of my sweet wife and daughter. I'd probably have some kind of daily devotional. Also, I'd definitely have earbuds so I can listen to music that soothes me. I like folk, gospel, '80s music — also, there's a band called Penny & Sparrow that I love.
How does your final Veep Emmy nomination compare with your first?
It's always difficult to wrap my mind around it. When I hear that I'm even on a list of those nominated, it's still something that I have a hard time grasping.
Still? You don't feel like you've hit your stride by now?
If I ever feel like I've hit my stride, somebody needs to pop me upside the head. It should never feel normal, because it's so exciting. It's a party I never thought I'd be invited to.
Do you have any special plans with the cast?
Honestly, we like each other a little too much. So, I mean, we'll go to Target just to be able to hang out with each other. But, we have all been texting about seeing each other at the Emmys.
You just lent your voice to Toy Story 4 and you have another children's project lined up. It seems as if you'll have a new generation of fans soon.
The children's series [Archibald's Next Big Thing] that's coming out in September, I'm ecstatic about. It's based on a book I did with my buddies, Tony Biaggne and Victor Huckabee, back in 2013. It's about this little chicken who's always looking to his next thing and missing where he is. The book talks about trying to embrace the present. Archibald sees the best in people and he just "yes, ands" his way through life. Working on it has been one of the biggest joys in my life.
So, are you moving past the anxiety of Gary and Buster Bluth and on to a different chapter?
There will always be parts of myself in every character, but I think with Gary and Buster [on Arrested Development], yeah, I dove into those places of insecurity. With Archibald, it's diving into hope. Archibald is an example of what I strive to be. I want to be that guy who makes the most of every situation, who sees the best in people rather than the worst.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.