We had the pleasure of talking with Jon Benjamin, the voice of Sterling Archer on Archer about his first leading role, how he got the part, and the project he is doing in between seasons.
A couple weeks ago, Aisha talked about the craziness of some of the lines you have to say. Can you talk about just how you get some of them out without just having to do take after take because they’re just too hilarious?
Jon Benjamin: I don’t find them funny at all, so I guess we have different perspective. So it’s very easy to just—no, I wish I had a more interesting answer. She said it was crazy and hilarious? I just plow through it. There’s an occasional laugh and then they send me home.
You’ve done a number of roles on a number of cult hits and this is your first real lead that I’ve been able to find. How does the responsibility weigh on you?
Jon Benjamin: I take a lot of medication. It’s fine. I guess I haven’t really been the lead in the show before, but this show is kind of an ensemble, I guess, so I don’t really feel that responsibility to take the helm. Although, you know, I’m a leader by nature, so I do really well in that role. I flourish. I read the Art of War I guess is what I’m trying to say.
The question I want to ask is if Sterling Archer could go out for a night on the town with any three people past or present, who do you think they would be?
Jon Benjamin: Go out on the town, what town? I’m trying to make it convenient for the people involved.
I could put them anywhere…so it’d be pretty much up to him as well.
Jon Benjamin: That’s really a ridiculous question. It would be Sterling. I don’t mean to nick pick. It would be me or would it be Sterling Archer because Sterling Archer would be different, I guess. If I, Jon Benjamin, could go out on the town with anyone—
…both ways, if you’d like.
Jon Benjamin: I guess it would be, I’m Jewish, so I’m trying to think of somebody Jewish. Franklin Roosevelt, was he Jewish? No. I don’t know. I love to party, so it would have to be pretty severe partiers.
…and Will Farrell from…
Jon Benjamin: If they stayed in character the whole time, yes. I like to keep it quiet, so it’d be pretty boring. …to be three people really at this point, just hanging out. I don’t know how else to answer that. Yes, …I could say. John Belushi, Jerry Lewis and Gandhi, how about that?
Aisha Tyler said she would like to see the series made into a feature film. How do you feel about bringing Archer to the big screen?
Jon Benjamin: If it’s a very small budget, yes, let’s do it. Like an animated feature or like a live action feature? Yes, of course, I guess. Are you in on it? Do you like that idea?
I definitely think the show has some potential.
Jon Benjamin: I think we have a little more work to do before a feature, but I think that’s maybe next year, how about that?
You do some writing for Important Things.
Jon Benjamin: I did for the first season. I didn’t on the second one.
You haven’t written any of the episodes in the second one yet?
Jon Benjamin: I didn’t write on the second season. They had moved the show to LA and I didn’t go to LA.
I loved that show as well. I was just wondering if there’s any chance that you might do some writing for Archer?
Jon Benjamin: I just don’t think so. I think they have it covered very well. Like Adam Reed and Matt write most of the stuff and they seem to be pretty proficient at it, so I’ll leave it them, I guess, unless they invite me, but I doubt it. They write scripts very fast from what I’ve experienced, so I don’t think they need me. I would ruin it.
Of all the characters you played outside of Archer, which one would be your favorite and why?
Jon Benjamin: Out of the characters I’ve played outside of Archer? Oh, man. I had fun playing this character, Jason, who’s on the show Home Movies, but that’s just because I got to hold my finger to my nose to do his voice. It’s really unprofessional. That was fun, but because I couldn’t really take my finger off and there was long recording sessions. So when you’re in character, it’s just funny to have to do that. A lot of the other shows I did with other people and Archer is done very differently. Like I work by myself in a whatever you call it, recording booth, so there’s not a lot of that other than in the previous shows I’ve done. I work with other people and that’s sometimes more fun, I guess, not that this isn’t. But I guess, it’s just a different way of doing it, but Jason was fun to do. It’s fun to play a sick kid.
You’ve worked with obviously lots and lots of other names. If you could have anyone that you worked with in Archer, who would it be and what kind of character would you see them doing?
Jon Benjamin: David Cross is always fun to work with. He would be good, I guess. The Olson twins I have worked with very briefly once. That would fun for them to come on Archer playing one person and you’d have them doing both voices they’d have to do. They’d have to switch off because of the hours. They still can’t work a full day. They’d have to switch off, right?
Even though they’ve over 18, they’ve kept the same rule for the Olson twins and then three or four hours of school or something like that. So, yes, I would like the Olson twins, that would be fun.
Why did you decide to take on the role of Sterling Archer?
Jon Benjamin: Because I was asked. It was pretty straight forward. Look, I’m not too picky. No, I didn’t know Adam Reed really that well. I’ve worked on obviously on some cartoons, which he knew me for. He called me out of the blue and asked me to do it and I said yes. It’s a terrible story.
Did you have a chance to read the script or find out about the character before you—
Jon Benjamin: No, as a matter of fact, I think I was visiting my parents in Arizona and he called me, I can’t remember how close it was to recording it. But I know I was in Arizona, went to some studio there and knew nothing about the show prior. So I think I just went in to this—it was in the back of this guy’s house or something. He had a makeshift studio. So it felt dirty, but I don’t think I read the script prior, didn’t get it. I just happen to be visiting my parents and it all happened, so I just went in and read and it worked out well for them, not for my parents.
Could give us a tease for the season one finale? Does it feel like a finale? What’s Sterling Archer going to be up to?
Jon Benjamin: Holy crap, I don’t remember. I don’t think it feels completely like a finale I don’t think. I know I did a lot of yelling, so there’ll be a lot of me yelling. I know that. I don’t know what’s going on with the other characters, but I know I was yelling a lot.
And that’s the one where you maybe find your real father, find out who your father is?
Jon Benjamin: Yes, yes, yes, yes. But I don’t know, I can’t tell you if I knew, but I’ve totally forgotten. They didn’t tell me to not reveal the finale. I just have no recollection.
Now that you finished season one, what are you doing until season two?
Jon Benjamin: I am going to join the food co-op and play Call of Duty Modern Warfare, which I neglected for six months. I’m working on a pilot for Comedy Central.
What’s it called?
Jon Benjamin: It doesn’t have a title yet. We just shot it and it doesn’t have a title yet. We’re shooting it now, I should say.
What’s it about?
Jon Benjamin: It’s sort like a, sort of a sketch show with me—it involves me owning a van, I know that. It involves me buying a van and making it into like a sort of a news van. And then I’ll go sort of investigate stories. It’s a cool van.
I doubt that it will get picked up. We’ll see. I have a bad attitude. It was a lot of fun to do, so hopefully it will come out well.
Official Archer Site: www.fxnetworks.com/shows/originals/archer/