Interview: Matt Thompson From ‘Archer’

Tonight, the season finale of Archer airs on FX, and since it’s the last Thursday – It’s time for another piece of my interview from the Archer production studios. In the interview below, I sit down with Executive Producer Matt Thompson for a chat about what makes a good voice actor, the voice recording process, his favorite television shows, and more!

What has your favorite episode been thus far?

Matt Thompson: The one with Archer out on a bayou. I think it’s pretty cool; it’s different. It was old school. We thought there was gonna be this giant action thing, and then people just kind of end up trapped in a bottle. And I liked it stylistically.

In your opinion, what makes good voice actor?

Matt Thompson: They have to have a different quality to their voice to start with. Very difficult. I’m not denigrating anybody, but I use this as an example to somebody today when I was talking about casting something. How do you instantly know that is that person? Or that they have a distinct quality?

The example I used was Jennifer Aniston, who’s a lovely woman and lovely actress, and I have absolutely no problem with her. This is not a denigration of any sort. There’s nothing extremely interesting about her voice, and there has to be something that makes you stop. But not only that, the voice has to pop out of the screen.

That’s why Jon Benjamin is always recognized as being so good at voiceover. There’s something about his voice that you instantly hear it and leaps out at you. It’s not just his acting ability, it’s his sound, quality, and temper of his voice.

So I know that you do a lot of the recordings over the phone. Can you tell me a little bit about that process, and if it provides any extra challenges quality-wise?

Matt Thompson: It’s fine. They’re in a professional recording booth recording directly into a professional microphone. We’re just hearing playback over here on the phone. So the quality is fine. It’s just as if we’re there.

When you’re at a recording booth with somebody, you’re not in the same room with them regardless, because it’s a sound proof room. And whenever you talk to them you usually push a little button and they can hear you in their headphones. Same thing. They just hear us talking to them over their headphones, and we just hear them through the telephone. And the quality is unchanged.

Big believer in the world is flat. The world is flat. You can make cartoons from anywhere, and do it with people spread out across the globe.

With Amber and Lucky (Pam and Krieger), you guys record with them here in Atlanta?

Matt Thompson: We do. Every episode we have a session that’s about the same. There’s another one that’s about to take place here in a second. It wasn’t just a function of us wanting to cast them, because they’re here in Atlanta. It was also because we’ve both worked with them for years. They’ve been in a bunch of our shows. We just like them.

Amber’s voice is another voice that… it pops, you know? It’s like there’s something about her voice that’s just like, “Oh sh*t!” That is a different voice. It pops and it just jumps out the same way Jon Benjamin’s voice jumps out at you. Her voice is just different.

Adam (Adam Reed) said that you guys knew of her before this through Cartoon Network. Did you guys initially meet her at Dad’s Garage, because I know she’s had a lot of involvement with them.

Matt Thompson: I know a lot of those people at Dad’s Garage, and we also know Dave Willis really well. Dave’s a really good friend of mine. And I know Dave had used her in the past, and we ended up using her… she was in Frisky Dingo. So we already had connected to her and worked with her for a couple of years before she got casted as Pam.

And she’s just…every time she does something, she’s f***ing hilarious, and she has the added benefit of having something different about her vocal ability.

What is your favorite television series right now?

Matt Thompson: Right now? I think it’s hands down Modern Family. I think they’re hitting on every single possible something. Somebody told me a story about Modern Family the other day. It was actually me and Adam and it was like, “Do you know the creator of Modern Family, what his last show was? Look it up! Just Shoot Me.”

And I was like, “Whaaaat?” Because it’s the perfect television show right now. Every show has a shelf life and eventually you’re like “Egh.” But right now that show is crushing it. I mean, Just Shoot Me ran for many years, and had its day, but I never felt like that about Just Shoot Me. And that tells you how much something is about like the team that you’ve assembled. You know…it’s not just the creator, it’s whatever they surround themselves with.

Again, I don’t mean to take a pot-shot at Just Shoot Me. It was on TV forever. Made ton of money, went to the bank, and cashed the checks. But anyway, I was flabbergasted learning that. Then I didn’t even believe it. I had to look it up on IMBD, and I was like, “What? WTF!”

Now I was talking a little bit to Adam about this, about the Georgia tax credits and what a difference it has made for you guys. Can you comment on that?

Matt Thompson: I can, and I can comment well on it. The thing I’ll say about it is it has helped us out immensely, and we are looking to… hoping to… more than double the size of our business in coming 8 or 9 months. That wouldn’t happen without the Georgia Tax Credit, and there’s a very large danger of that going away because it’s kinda seen as a boondoggle.

Well I got 50 people sitting outside those doors that don’t think it’s a boondoggle, and it’s what keeps me here in Atlanta and Georgia as oppose to…. The animation industry has just been wrecked by China, by India, by Korea. Just wrecked. And there isn’t many of these places in business anymore. And there are 50 Georgians who are AWESOME at their job, and I’m not saying if Georgia Tax Credit went away, I would panic out, but it would… I would definitely think long and hard about continuing making the show in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s that much of a difference.

Want more exclusive Archer goodness? Check out our contest to win a Archer Season 2 poster signed by Adam Reed! And don’t forget to check out the season finale tonight on FX at 10pm eastern!

Interview By: Emma Loggins

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