NEW YORK (AP) — Tony Hale is known for getting big laughs for his hilarious facial reactions and physical antics in TV comedies. But for his animated role in the latest “Toy Story” installment, he had to be funny and endearing using only his voice.
Hale has earned many fans by playing a morally questionable, immature man-child in both “Arrested Development” and “Veep.” He switched gears to play the lovable and innocent “Forky,” who embarks on a road trip with Woody, Buzz and the gang in “Toy Story 4,” which is available on digital, 4K Disc and Blu-Ray this week.
Hale says he was thrilled to get the call to play the handmade, talking utensil. He’s won two Emmys for playing Gary Walsh, the personal assistant to Vice President-turned-President Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus in HBO’s “Veep,” which ended its run this year.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Hale waxed philosophical about several of his roles — from Pixar to politics — and how he found truth and honor in the series finale of “Veep,” a show that is known for the most despicable characters.
AP: What was it like to get the call to play a role in this storied franchise?
Hale: Pixar calls and you’re like ‘Yup, I’m in!’ (laughs) They brought me up to Pixar and I felt very much like Forky, because Forky walks around like he’s overwhelmed. I was very overwhelmed. Like ‘How did I get here?’… I mean we were doing the press tour and it was like Annie Potts, Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves and me! The whole thing’s been a very surreal experience.
AP: “Forky” is a decorated plastic spork, but he has a larger lesson to teach.
Hale: He comes into the world and his whole goal is like ‘Listen, I’m here to help people eat and I go to the trash. That’s it. That’s my one-way route.’ And Woody comes along and he’s like ‘No, you have value, you have a greater purpose. You’re a toy. You are made to love and to be loved.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh, God, who doesn’t want to hear that?’ You know it’s really pretty sweet.
AP: How did you feel about the way the writers ended Gary’s story in the series finale of “Veep”?
Hale: I always describe Gary as a dog who is returning to his vomit. He just didn’t ever understand the abuse. He was always dysfunctional, bounced back, had rose-colored glasses. Never, just never saw the dysfunction. What Selena did to him in the end — to me — was the biggest gift he could have gotten because he was in an addictive cycle with her. He was obsessed with her and that was the only thing that was gonna break that cycle because — spoiler! — when he comes back 20 years later and goes to her funeral, I don’t think that was about her. That was about him because he had spent a long time in jail and I think waking up to the fact like, ‘Wow, when I look at the cycle I’ve been in for the past how many years…’ and he did that more to forgive and for himself.
AP: And did you think the series ending was fitting?
Hale: Here’s a picture of a person who has spent their entire life narcissistically just trying to get ahead, only thinking about themselves, backstabbing, selfish, treating people awfully, all that stuff. And here the end result of that is isolation and sadness. That’s where the series ended up. She was fully isolated. I think you’re going to reap what you sow if you sow that stuff. You’re going to reap sadness isolation. If you sow kindness and giving of others, you’re going to reap a different result. And I love that. It’s a beautiful picture of that.
AP: Unlike “Veep,” ”Toy Story 4″ has such a positive message.
Hale: It’s really special… You see these characters who live life together and they always have each other’s backs. And that says a lot about life, like we’re not meant to live this life alone. We’re meant to have each other’s backs.