On March 31, the animated cult hit Archer returns to FX for its seventh season, in which the bizarro band of spies relocates to L.A. to open a detective agency. We recently spoke with Atlanta actors Amber Nash (Pam Poovey) and Lucky Yates (Dr. Krieger) about voicing their characters, what to expect this season, and their dream spy gadgets.
You both have a lot of improv experience and are regulars at Dad’s Garage. How much leeway is there when recording the voice of an animated character?
Nash: There definitely is room and leeway for us to improvise, but we almost never do it because the script is so good. We just don’t need to.
Yates: Honestly, it’s tough to improve upon [series creator] Adam [Reed’s] stuff. And we record alone, so you’re not really bouncing off anyone. The places in the scripts where we really just get to do whatever is during the group reactions. That’s when you get to throw in your punchline. You try to come up with the greatest zinger or one-liner you can and hope it’s the one that’s played the loudest when everyone’s talking at once.
Nash: If they get something really good, they’ll animate around it.
How do you prep for voice sessions?
Yates: I read the script a few times and make sure I know what I’m talking about. Other than that, just begging them not to schedule it too early in the morning. The later in the day, the better, because my voice will actually sound like I’m a normal human being.
Nash: It’s embarrassingly easy work. In the beginning, there was more prep because we weren’t as familiar with our characters. And if it’s in between seasons and I haven’t done the voice in a while, then I might have to try for a bit to get into character. I read the script the night before, and then I drink coffee in my car on the way and do some vocal warm-ups. That’s pretty much it. We’re so spoiled.
Lucky, in addition to acting, you’re also a puppeteer. How did you get into that?
Yates: Yes, I’m in the middle of building a puppet right now! I got a job offer to work in the box office at the Center for Puppetry Arts, and the first thing I had to do would be to watch the show that was running so that I could sell tickets. And it was the super corny light beam from heaven moment with a choir of angels singing. I was like, Holy shit, puppetry! Oh my god, I could do this! And I just jumped onto that track. My goal is to get some sort of puppet show out there into the world. I’m constantly building stuff.
Amber, you recently starred in Dad’s Garage Theatre’s new web series Hart of America. What was that like?
Nash: We had the most fun in the whole world making it. My husband Kevin [Gillese] and his partner Arlen [Konopaki] wrote this series. I don’t get the opportunity to do a lot of on-camera work, so it was really exciting for me to show people that I can do that too. And I get to play all different characters—the crazier, the better. Now we’re talking about getting funding to do a new season. We want someone to give us money to make more! Kevin and Arlen actually have a big plan, which is to do a second season with three totally new story lines, and then another season after that with three new story lines, and then all nine story lines would all come together in the end.
Archer is known for being over the top. Are either of you anything like your characters?
Yates: I love science. I love the idea of mad science and weird science. If I got to choose out of any of the characters on the show, I’d definitely pick Krieger. I love all of his shit that he gets into. But I hope I’m not like him.
Nash: I wish I was more like Pam. Every time I need extra strength, I think “There’s a little bit of Pam in me.” And there are a few things, like I’ve got a dirty mouth too, and most of my friends are dudes, and I can drive a tractor.
Yates: You can?
Nash: Yeah, I used to work at a camp and drive one all the time.
Pam and Krieger both have their own Twitter accounts. Who does the tweeting?
Nash: We do! It started maybe four or five seasons ago, and we usually tweet for our characters when the season is up and running. At first it was intimidating, because Adam’s so brilliant, and I thought, I’ll just screw it up. But now we’ve totally gotten into the groove, and it’s really fun to flesh out the character’s life in a way that’s not part of the series.
Yates: When we write the feeds, that’s when we really get to improvise and have a big say in our characters . . . for 140 characters, at least. Everybody at the show has to approve it before it’s tweeted out, but I’ve rarely gotten notes. And it’s a really great outlet for us.
Nash: At first, they told me mine were too dirty, and I was like, Too dirty for Pam?!? But yeah, it’s so fun to imagine their personal lives, their apartments, what they do outside of work. The gross experiments that Krieger does in his bathtub, and the way Pam’s always cooking in crockpots.
Yates: Krieger likes to take homeless people alligator hunting.
Season 7 has the characters opening a Hollywood detective agency. What’s that change been like?
Nash: I think it’s less of a reboot than season 5 [in which the characters became drug smugglers]. It’s less of a jarring departure. But just like in season 5, the important thing for viewers to know is that they’re all the same assholes. There’s a bit of a dynamics shift, power structure-wise, but they all treat each other the exact same way.
Yates: It’s the dynamics of the group are the core of the show. They could be the gang on Baywatch, but ultimately they’re going to be dickheads to each other, yet with love somewhere down in their cold black hearts. We’re still hunting people down for a client, which is what we’ve always done. We’re not a drug cartel, so for fans that were shocked by season 5, don’t worry.
Okay, now for a few fun questions. The show features a lot of cursing. What are your favorite curse words?
Nash: Cock-sucking sons of bitches. [Editor’s note: She rattles this off very quickly.]
Yates: Oh, man. I don’t know. I love them all so much. I swear a lot. [Sighs] I’d say fuck. That’s a good solid one. It’s like “Smurf,” where you can use it in so many different situations. It’s always appropriate.
What’s your dream spy gadget?
Nash: It might be the “brown note” thing that Krieger had last season.
Yates: I pitched that to Adam, “What if Krieger had a “brown note” ray gun [a device that makes people poop] that actually worked?” And he wrote back, “Genius!” So I’m a big fan of that, too.
Nash: I do wish sometimes that the wheels on my car had spikes that came out of them, so I could ram other drivers.
Yates: Or an egg launcher, so when you encounter a shitty driver, you can just egg their car.
Besides Dad’s Garage, what are you favorite spots in Atlanta?
Nash: I spend a lot of time at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club.
Yates: That’s Amber and Kevin’s living room.
Nash: We can wear pajamas there and be totally comfortable. Two of the bartenders actually came to our wedding.
Yates: I’m a Vortex guy. I live close to the Vortex in Midtown, and Michael Benoit is one of my best friends, so I’m there all the time.