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'Veep's' Tony Hale on man bags, ear hygiene, 'Arrested Development'

April 22, 2013|By Yvonne Villarreal
  • Julia Louis Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer and Tony Hale as her devoted assistant, Gary.
Julia Louis Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer and Tony Hale as her devoted… (Bill Gray / HBO )

He's the guy getting a lot of ear action.

Tony Hale is back as the vice president's boy Friday in HBO's political comedy "Veep." In the midst of Washington chaos, he's never too far from Selina's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) ear, ready to whip out hand sanitizer from his beloved man purse or scour her closet for the perfect clutch. If needed, he'll even take a bullet for the veep — or at least a sneeze.

The patsy role is one the actor has made an art. He'll also reprise his role as socially awkward Buster Bluth in the highly anticipated resurrection of "Arrested Development," which will premiere on Netflix in late May.

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And later this summer he'll appear opposite Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in the comedy flick "The Heat."

Show Tracker spoke to the actor — and the conversation was anything but normal.

The bag is back!

The. Bag. Is. Back. The Leviathan! It’s funny you brought that up — my wife and I were like, you know what, let’s look it up on Wikipedia and see what leviathan means.  Yvonne, it is a sea monster in the Old Testament.  That’s what leviathan means. And it was also referenced in "Moby Dick" as a whale. So there’s a lot of power. There’s a very specific reason Gary calls the bag Leviathan, because there’s a lot of power that comes with it.

Did you have any discussion with [creator Armando] Iannucci , like, ‘dude, what is the deal with the bag? What is our back story? What should I be feeling?’

Ha! Before the pilot, they took us to D.C. and we were able to see how things work behind the scenes and meet kind of our counterparts of our characters. And I met a guy who was the right-hand man of a politician back in his 20s. And he carried around a bag, and you have anything that that person needs and you’re just with them 24/7. You have no life.  And the thing is, all these guys left a couple of years after because the job is just so exhausting. Gary stayed into his 40s. Gary has not left. Gary will never leave 'cause Gary is attached. And he loves the bag.

Did you feel like you had to develop a relationship with the bag off set — like, "forget hanging with my costars, I need to hang with the bag"?

What do you mean "had to develop?" I have a relationship with the bag. We are very close. He takes better care of that bag than most people do of their pets. I think Gary actually goes home at night and practices his technique in front of the mirror how quickly he can get stuff out of that bag. There are so many pockets sewn into that bag.

Are there actual items in there or is it just stuffing?

Some of it’s a lot of stuffing, some of it is just my water bottles. If Gary saw what Tony Hale puts in that bag, he would be deeply, deeply ashamed.  Deeply ashamed.

And the Leviathan’s future with Gary comes into question in an upcoming episode.

Yeah, I don’t know a strong enough word, but I think “jarring” is the way to describe it. That took Gary to another level.  It was a life-altering day. It’s pretty much his Superman cape. He never wants to not have that by his side. I wouldn’t be surprised if he vacations with it.

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OK, I’m sorry. I know you weren’t expecting to be deluged with questions about a bag. I’ll move on.  In the season opener, we learned Gary has a girlfriend.

Yes, Gary has a girlfriend. I’m sure the girlfriend probably comes second to the bag.  But, yeah, he has a love interest and that does cause some tension with Selina because his attention is divided. Not only is it causing tension but Gary — he thought this was a good idea, and I mean it is, he likes having a girlfriend, but he’s been 24/7 with Selina for most of his adult life.

Exactly — so when did he find a lady friend?

That’s a good question, because Gary’s not really a go-into-a-bar kind of guy.  Maybe he met her at a local cat shelter, or playing putt-putt golf.  He tends to gravitate toward dominating women, so I don’t know if this girl would necessarily be playing putt-putt. I don’t know. There are a lot of mommy issues going on. I think there’s a carry-over.

What do you think his pickup line was — does it involve the bag? Or did Dana do the picking up?

Oh, God.  Her pickup line might have been "Why the hell are you carrying such a large bag?" And Gary’s response was probably, "Who doesn’t do this?"

I don’t know! I think honestly, if there was a pickup line given, I don’t think it was on Gary’s side.

Well, in Sunday’s episode, we see that this girlfriend uses some bad judgment in telling a friend about the hand gestures Selina uses to signal when she wants out of a conversation — which the friend then shared with a tabloid.

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