I spoke to Hale last season about his role as Gary, the Veep’s trusty right hand, selfless confidant and unwavering miracle worker. He is also among the cast of comedy reboot, Arrested Development, now on NetFlix.
Sandra Varner/Talk2SV: Your character does not know how to say “no” to his boss despite her innumerable, unreasonable requests of him, he’s quite a guy.
Tony Hale: Oh, poor Gary, he’s kind of a mess.
Talk2SV: He’s a good, awkward and infectious mess. Your character, Gary Walsh appears to be very informed by the physical nuance you bring. A guy in this position has to be quite intuitive. He’s comical yet self-deprecating. How do you define this character?
Hale: He is…I think you’re right; he pretty much doesn’t have his own identity. Gary’s identity is immersed into Selina’s. One eye is one thing but there’s always an eye on whatever she does. I (Gary) know every facial expression of hers, every body movement because I know that I need to be on it if she needs something. So I (Gary) anticipate everything she needs: Gary’s focus is 100% Selina and I don’t think she’s probably taken a vacation in 20 years.
Talk2SV: We, the viewing public, have the occasion to observe the “devotee” whose life is the life of the subject they are in service to, with complete surrender to the job and the call of duty. Given Gary’s unswerving loyalty, are the responsibilities blurred? Does the line get cloudy between duty, devotion and perhaps desire? Is something brewing between the two of them in season two?
Hale: Well, Gary’s been with Selina since he was in his 20’s. He’s been with her for a long time and he should have left his job when he was in his 20’s. But he worshipped her so much that he could never leave. His co-dependency with Selina is obviously showing many signs of dysfunction because he just doesn’t know how to think about himself much. And the fact that he would break up with Selina’s boyfriend (Ted) for her is so messed up (a very funny scene with Andy Buckley aka The Office’s David Wallace). I think we’re probably going to see more and more of how the dysfunction just bites him in the butt. I think he’s completely unaware that when it comes to Gary, when Selina says something, he does it. Hopefully that’s where the comedy comes in, to see more and more of him lose his own identity and fall apart because Selina doesn’t care.
Talk2SV: Will there be a misstep resulting in a romantic dalliance of some sort between Gary and Selina?
Hale: Oh, maybe, I think if Gary had his way they would be married. But I don’t think Selina sees him that way. Gary is definitely not in the ballpark for Selina. But she’s pretty much a fixture in his world.
Talk2SV: Speaking of marriage, I read that you met your wife at a bible study. Is that correct?
Hale: Yes, I did.
Talk2SV: Tell me more…
Hale: During my 20’s I moved to New York and met a lot of artists whose faith was important to them but they weren’t getting a lot of supportfrom their families and such so we started this group called The Haven. It was a a fellowship of people whose faith was important to them and we supported each other: went to each other’s shows, saw each other’s work. I met her there.
Talk2SV: VEEP has great comedic balance and timing as well as being wonderfully unique and ethnically appealing. The fact Selina has a Jewish surname, an African American scheduler and a range of age groups represented in the cast. Too, the parallel to our government, the back stage machinations, the interoffice high jinks, pseudo camaraderie among staffers rings authentic in the portrayals. Before doing this show did any of your personal political views infuse or inform your character.
Hale: Not really. I don’t think Gary knows much about politics. I think he’s mainly all about helping Selina. He does know crazy factoids about people because he has to whisper stuff in her ears but when it comes to policy he doesn’t really know that much. All of it probably confuses him. As for me, I think the aspect of the show that most excites me is the normality. I love that they normalize the political scene a little bit.
As a society, I think we tend to put all these people on very high pedestals and it forces them to always have to be perfect in front of us. Forces them to live a healthy life but you have to go behind the scenes and have freak outs. You have to be honest, you have to talk it out, and you’ve got to let it out somewhere because you can’t sustain that kind of perfection in front of people. I love that the show puts forth a more realistic picture of what happens in Washington.