It's almost scary to imagine that there are real-life "body men" in political circles who are like Gary Walsh, the sycophantic personal aide of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Vice President Selena Meyer in HBO's "Veep" — but there are. Kind of.
"There are, but they're not as dysfunctional as Gary," explains Tony Hale, who brings everyone's favorite D.C. toady to life on the much-talked-about satire that's just been renewed for its fourth season. "I've met a couple of guys who were body men to politicians, and pretty much they did it in their 20s, and they had no social life and they never saw their families or things like that. Gary — he has so few boundaries, he has extended this job into his 40s, and he knows nothing else besides serving her and worshiping her and bringing her what she needs, making Danishes for her. So he's a very colorful disaster."
This season has Dreyfus' Vice President Meyer out on the campaign trail attempting to land the country's top job. However, as Hale points out, "Whoever is managing her campaign is an idiot."
"Veep" has the affection, perhaps even admiration, of real-life pols back East in the seat of power. There are off-camera consultations and connections and occasional photo ops featuring cast members with real politicians. Joe Biden sharing a desk with Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is our personal favorite.
"People really like it, and there's an aspect of it I think is interesting because people who are involved in politics — they know what the media shows are sound bites or well-thought-out speeches, but what they don't see is behind the scenes," Hale says. "They don't see the massive pressure cookers these politicians are in. And with that amount of anxiety, they have to lose it; they have to freak out. So I think there's something kind of validating — even though we're a satire and we take it to the extreme — there's something validating showing a little bit of the reality of what might be happening behind the scenes. Because these people are human beings."
Speaking of losing control, Hale admits that one of his biggest challenges in "Veep" is refraining from breaking into laughter.
"It's hardest for me because I'm in closest proximity to Julia, so I hear all the small funny stuff she does. If you ever see me looking in my bag or turning my back to the camera — there's a reason for that. I'm just trying to keep it together."
Hale has found a way to make the most of this challenge: he has turned "Veep" bloopers over the Chideo site — https://www.chideo.com (for charity + video). Now, when fans look for funny behind-the-scenes stuff from the series, they'll be helping the very funny actor raise funds for the anti-HIV charity he supports, Blood:Water.
"There's so many videos online where people are sharing funny material or interesting stuff, I just loved the idea of, 'Let's do that and raise money to support charity.' It just sounded like an awesome marriage, really," says Hale. "I love the whole thing.
"It's me and a bunch other performers, politicians, dancers putting stuff out," he continues, referring to the Chideo app, which is described as interactive voting, suggestion and video platform — and which was recently named one of Mashable's 5 New Don't-Miss Apps. "You can find what you're interested in, then you can ask questions, they can answer back. The one I just put up — because I love blooper reels, I'm crazy about blooper reels, if I had to watch blooper reels for the rest of my life I'd be fine with that — is a little snippet of Julia and I in this car scene, just losing it. Actually, I'm the one losing it because I break the most. I'm very unprofessional when it comes to keeping it together."
Hale has gone around the country showing episodes of "Arrested Development" to various groups and having a Q&A about the beloved screwball show afterwards as fundraisers for Blood:Water. "We also did a thing where the character I played on 'Arrested Development,' Buster Bluth, would record your voicemail greeting. You could pay to have your voicemail greeting recorded by Buster Bluth," he notes — another way he's raising money for the charity.
"Obviously the HIV crisis in Africa is so overwhelming it can really put you in a state of paralysis thinking, 'I can't do anything. What can I do to make a difference?' What I really appreciated about what Blood:Water does — they say, 'Find what you're good at, and just do that. And make a difference doing that.' I can't sing. I can't do a concert. That would be a nightmare. But what I can do is share fun stories from the set."
The organization happily accepts help from high-end celebrities — as in Tony Hale — and everyone else as well, all the way through to offering "lemonade packets for kids to sell lemonade, and then that money can go to help fight HIV in Africa." he reports.
Will Buster Bluth and his mad-mad-mad family ride again? After all, they came up with new "Arrested Development" episodes last year.
"I know we'd all jump at the chance to do it because we all have such admiration for Mitch Hurwitz and love what he writes. So we all would absolutely love to do it, it's just a matter of seeing what happens with it where he takes it," says Hale.
Meanwhile, with "Veep" having wrapped production on season three in February, he's been enjoying family time with his wife, makeup artist Martel Thompson and their 8-year-old daughter back in L.A. — before he begins work on the big screen "American Ultra" at the end of May. That comedy has him working with Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Sharon Stone.
"It's a whole different arena, a whole different job," Hale comments. "I don't really know what to expect, but I'm excited."