You might not necessarily know his name, but you will know Tony Hale. He is a Hollywood survivor. He’s survived seven seasons of satirical political comedy Veep as Gary, the tireless, selfless, cringe-inducing body man to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s vicious vice president Selina Meyer (the role brought Hale two Emmys). Before that, he survived cult comedy Arrested Development as the equally hapless Buster Bluth. Now, as all great actors must, Hale is playing a fork in a Pixar movie. He called us from Los Angeles to discuss his latest role, as the newest addition to the gang in Toy Story 4.
How was Forky pitched to you?
He was pitched as nervous, so, you know – check. [Laughs] He was pitched as gullible to a fault – again, check. If I’m being honest, just the fact that they asked me was a little strange. Initially, I thought, “someone’s going to wake up to the fact that they’ve made a big mistake. Surely they meant [big TV name in the ’70s and ’80s] Tony Danza”.
Who is Forky?
He’s Pixar’s first homemade character. It’s literally a spork, a pipe cleaner, some clay, some broken ice lolly sticks. He comes from the trash, but then, through this whole journey he has with Woody, he’s taught that he has a greater purpose than that.
Maybe he’ll be an invitation for viewers to make their own Forkies.
That would be amazing. This is getting meta, but anybody who thinks of themselves as trash – if they were treated like trash or see themselves as trash – they should know that they’re so much more than that. They have so much more purpose and they have so much more beauty.
At one point, he asks, “Why do I have to be a toy?” Where does that existential angst come from for you as an actor?
Sadly, for most of my characters, it doesn’t take me long. I don’t know what that says about me.
Seriously, how do you get into that mode?
I will say this – I’m the kind of guy that walks around and says, “Why am I here? What’s going on? You realize we’re spinning on a planet, right?” I appreciate that Forky asks a lot of questions.
How is Toy Story different to Veep?
It definitely was a contrast. By the way, I loved doing Veep, and we’re all such close friends. But I think we were close off set because, in character, we were so abused. It was nice – the purity of Toy Story 4 – because Veep was such a cesspool. The insults alone: I was called Cow Eyes.
Now you’re hanging around with Tom Hanks, jumping out of windows in search of freedom.
Yes! Now I’ve got Woody, who’s the exact opposite of Selina Meyer. He’s nurturing, he’s taking me along with him, he’s encouraging. That was a good balance to have.
Do you look at forks differently now?
I have a whole new relationship with forks – with forks and spoons. Forky is the best of both worlds.
Toy Story 4 is in cinemas across the UAE now.