H. Jon Benjamin Talks the 6th Season of ‘Archer,’ the Possibility of an ‘Archer’ movie, and Maybe Playing the Sub-Mariner

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Between providing the lead voices on Bob’s Burgers and Archer, H. Jon Benjamin has become one of the premiere voices in animation. Benjamin got his start in animation on the old Comedy Central series Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, where he provided the voice of Dr. Katz’s son Ben. But the work of H. Jon Benjamin isn’t confined to the world of animation either. He can be seen playing bit parts in movies like 22 Jump Street or as the leading man in his short-lived, yet still hilarious, series Jon Benjamin Has a Van. In anticipation of the season finale of Archer’s sixth season, which airs this Thursday April 2nd at 10pm, H. Jon Benjamin was kind enough to participate in a conference call interview with myself and a variety of other outlets. In the interview, Benjamin discusses a variety of topics, including the future of Archer, a possible Archer movie, and his interest in Namor: The Sub-Mariner.

Q: With all the things that Archer’s done, all the places he’s been, is there anything that he hasn’t done or anyplace he hasn’t been to yet that you would like to see them do in future episodes?

H. Jon Benjamin: Wow, there’s like nowhere left, right? Now he’s going inside the human body and I wouldn’t have thought of that one. He’s been in space and in the ocean. I’m trying to think, back to the womb? I don’t know where else he could go besides, he’d have to reverse time maybe. Time travel? That’s the only dimension he hasn’t covered yet.

Q: Do you like the fact that Archer has gone, over the years, more and more out there and bizarre? Or do you wish it would go back to being more of a regular spy show?

HJB: I think actually this season, it sort of did kind of go back to a little bit more of the way it used to be until the finale. But Adam Reed is always trying to push the stories. For sure I think there’s been little elements that have gotten weirder, a little weirder, and more surreal. I think that’s good.

Q: Thanks for taking the time for us this week.

HJB: No problem. I got a pretty open week. But I’m not suggesting we should do this for a week straight.

Q: Oh no, I had a whole lot of questions planned.

HJB: I got to do stuff tomorrow.

Q: Now that Archer is a dad—in this week’s past episode there was some suggestion that maybe he should be considering his own, the risks he takes in his mortality. And if you can be a dad, should you rein it in? Do you think Archer is thinking about that? Does he have the depth to think about that? Will that be affecting him?

HJB: I think it’s evident in the show that he’s definitely, it’s a consideration for him now. I can only speak from experience, I didn’t care about my kid until he was like nine, so he’s got time. That’s maybe not so good to say. But he can’t read, he’s twelve, so he’ll never read this.

I think there’s always— especially considering the way he had his child, he is slowly improving from the last child he had. Progress is slow, but life is pretty short. Archer, I think he’s got to pick up the pace as far as self-examining and figuring out how to get his life on track. But I’m not sure that will ever happen in the show. But like I said, he’s got some time to while his daughter’s still a baby. Maybe try and speed up some actualization.

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Q: If they were real life characters, could you see yourself being best friends with any of them if you had to choose?

HJB: Oh man, that’s rough. Maybe, I can’t see myself hanging out with Archer. That would be— although I have hung with people like him in my past. But at this point I couldn’t keep up, and wouldn’t want to. I would have to go with— and I’m not going to hang out with Krieger. I’ll go with a safe bet and say I’ll hang out with Cyril, although it wouldn’t be that much fun. I could see a movie with him, maybe grab a glass of wine.

Q: I feel like if you hung out with Krieger you might not live.

HJB: I don’t think anybody would hang out with Krieger, I don’t think, right? You’d just be, like immediately call the cops. And be like, I met a guy who’s just going to kill people.

Q: Is there any talks of them making Archer into a movie? And if so, who would you like to see playing Sterling Archer?

HJB: Well, definitely not me. Let’s say, Paul Giamatti, he kind of looks like me. No, no, that wouldn’t work. I don’t know, that a tough one. There is a lot of handsome actors out there. I saw a trailer for the British spy movie that’s coming out recently that had a guy that kind of looks exactly like Archer. He seemed like he had the attitude, I just don’t know what his name is.  So it can, but you have to figure out who it is for me. I think it is The Man from U.N.C.L.E. That being said, the guy who’s going to be in The Man from U.N.C.L.E, the movie. [Ed. note: Henry Cavill]

That being said, there’s certainly been talk about making an animated movie of Archer. I know people have brought it up. I guess that would be up to a consortium of people who would give the money to do it, and I don’t mean to make that sound nefarious.

I feel like they would strive to make an animated feature before they would make a live action one.  I would think, just because the show’s for the fans and the show.

Sean Mulvihill: You have a bunch of great guest stars throughout Archer’s run, is there any chance you’d get someone like [Tom] Scharpling and [Jon] Wurster to appear on Archer?

HJB: That would be great. Yes, let’s see, Philly Boy Roy on Archer. I see those guys once in a while and it’s a good recommendation. I’d be happy to pass it on. They would be great.

SM: Archer goes to Newbridge.

HJB: Right, right. But yes, I’ll try and make it happen.

Q: What is your favorite season finale from any TV show?

HJB: Oh, from any TV show? From any TV show? I sometimes I like to say St. Elsewhere just because it’s so— but I didn’t really like it.  But I think I ironically started to like it and then I talked about—and I use it as a reference all the time.

If I’m in any situation where I’m talking about a TV finale, that the whole thing was a— as I remember it, a, St. Elsewhere was a hospital building in a snow globe. And the whole thing was a dream of a boy with mental disabilities. I just thought that was pretty good. So I have to say, I’m dating myself, St. Elsewhere.  But let’s face it, we’re all going to die.

Q: Let’s go with the obvious question, what is your favorite Archer season finale?

HJB: Oh, wow. I liked the Sealab one. But I think probably my favorite would have been Archer Vice, where it wrapped up that whole season arc. I thought that was really smart, and I didn’t know what was coming until I read the script. That was cool to figure out why the whole thing was a sideways plot by Malory; which makes total sense considering her character. So I liked that a lot, so I’ll say that one.

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Q: I was wondering if you could give us any little clues or hints about what to expect? This season final is clearly inspired by the movie Fantastic Voyage. And that movie takes some little twists, including a traitor being on board in the original film. I know you can’t reveal that, but can you help?

HJB: I’m going to toe the line and say, I can’t say what’s going to happen. But mainly because I have no recollection. But let’s go with, I can’t say. But I think they’d both apply.

Q: Maybe you can talk about, it’s not common for Archer to venture into really pure science fiction. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about what inspired that move and how much fun it was maybe, or not, to work on this episode?

HJB: Well no, it’s great. I had him read his, sort of ventured into this territory before with the Sealab finale and when they go to space. A lot of some of that stuff comes from allusions to shows and scenarios from fiction that he’s liked. Animation allows you to do that.

For Archer, it seems to work. I guess some of the crazy, and he certainly has a science fiction bent. And so whenever he can let that creep in, he does. Certainly not in the first four seasons, but I think now that Archer is getting on in years, it’s like he’s letting that loose a little bit. I think it’s fun. I always like it.

Q: Sterling Archer has frequently been compared to Buster Bluth from Arrested Development, and there are definitely some differences. But how do you think Archer might react to Buster?

HJB: I regrettably have never watched Arrested Development, and I keep meaning to watch it. I had friends who were on it.  I know Judy [Greer], and my friend David Cross was on it. The only time I watched it was with David Cross and his girlfriend at his house, one episode. I remember being too drunk to recollect what I saw.

But I keep meaning to go back and watch the whole thing, so now I look forward to that. Someday I will watch all the Arrested Developments. So, I know who that is, but I can’t speak to the question because I don’t know all what’s on. I’ve got to wait to find out who Buster Bluth is.

Who is Buster Bluth?  Is it Will Arnett’s character, or who’s?

Q: He’s Tony Hale.

HJB: He’s a lot more awkward, I assume.

Q: Although he does have Army training.

HJB: Oh, okay. Well, if there’s just off the top of my head, I would be like, “Archers so much more arrogant, self-confident, and.” I’ll answer your question next year.

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Q: So after learning about all these characters throughout the season, if he gets to switch with one of them for a day, who would it be? Who would you want to voice besides Archer?

HJB: From the cast?

Q: If you get to voice anybody else, who would you pick?

HJB: Out of the cast, probably Pam. I like Pam. Pam says the craziest shit, and I’m a big Pam fan. Then I’d get to do my famous southern accent.

Q: Speaking of Pam, do you like Season 5 Pam compared to, back to normal Pam? How do you like that switch from Season 5 to the coke addict Pam?

HJB: I like regular Pam the best. I like Pam the way she is. I like office Pam more than crazy coke adult Pam.

Q: Following up on all the movie questions, if you could see an animated movie for Archer, what kind of shenanigans and plot would you ideally love the characters to get into? If you could go a one minute pitch.

HJB: Wow, that’s a tall task. That’s a tough one, to pitch an Archer movie. I would have to, I feel like I would let Adam Reed do that for me. I’d go to the meeting and I’d bring the full cutout version of Archer and stand behind it and talk to help sell it. But as far as a plot goes, I don’t know. That’s a tough movie to make. I feel like you’d have to really go crazy with like a serious, you’d have to go think really crazy about what mission you’d want to focus on for them.

That’s a big ask. Plus I don’t want to ruin it. I don’t want to say some dumb idea, and then they’ll never be able to sell the movie because I said that.

Q: Judy Greer is going to be in Ant-Man pretty soon. Is there any dream comic book or superhero movie that you’d want to be a part of?

HJB:  I always liked Sub-Mariner. That’s the one movie they never made. Maybe that’s for a reason because nobody likes Sub-Mariner except for me. But I feel like maybe they’ll never make Sub-Mariner. But I would love to be Sub-Mariner, especially with my real body. That would be so weird, be a real Jewish, middle-aged Sub-Mariner.

Q: Playing Archer, how much of your own personality do you bring into the character?

HJB: I really don’t know. I’m not totally like Archer in real life, although I think I have my moments. I clearly possess some of his qualities. We have the same voice. I can get pretty loud, and mean to people at times. So, sure, I’m definitely a little bit like him. I’m a little more demure in real life. I don’t want to get hit. I can’t get into a fight, that wouldn’t be good for me.

Q: The biggest impact of any single character on the show this season, I think would have been made by the one that hasn’t been mentioned at all so far, and that’s Abbiejean. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on how she affected Archer personally.

HJB: I think the underlying plot element in this story, or certainly the underlying emotional element in the story is Abbiejean’s existence. And how it affects Archer’s relationship with Lana, which I think is the principal relationship in his life, and the one I think he needs to keep going. I think they did a really good job with it because it’s complicated for Archer to change so radically, even when you have a kid.

I think a lot of people think that change is easy, just by the sake of having a kid, but in actuality it’s not.  Like I said before earlier to somebody, he’s making [indiscernible] progress. Hopefully it will catch up, but she’s going to be a mess.

I think if I were to tack on a real life trajectory for Abbiejean, she’ll be a mess. Lana is, compared to Archer, is pretty stable. She’s probably the most stable character in the whole show.

And I don’t think she’s anything like Malory, so that’s good

.

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