Recently we had a chance to talk to Aisha Tyler, the voice of ”Lana” on Archer, a show now in its sixth season on FX.
You may recall a few months ago when we talked to show executive producer Matt Thompson about the growth of Aisha as a voice actress in that she not only has the patented sarcastic and assertive tone towards her on-screen co-worker Sterling Archer, but with the new season we’ve seen her add a more motherly and loving tone with the introduction of AJ. We decided to ask Aisha about this new facet to her voice repertoire and the genesis of its becoming:
I actually think that the softening of “Lana” started to come at the end of Season, I want to say Season 4, but I might be wrong because I’m sitting in my car and my brain doesn’t work, when we did the Sealab episode and “Archer” sacrificed himself for “Lana.” I think Adam [Reed] started to write more emotional material for “Lana.”
She wasn’t always pissed at “Archer.” And because she wasn’t always angry at him or angry at the situation I just had more to play with and more to do. What’s been nice is as the relationships on the show have evolved and they’ve deepened and they’ve become more complex, we have more to do.
And I think in a first or a second season of any show you’re just trying to fire as many bullets as you can at a target as possible because we’re a comedy and we’re a half-hour comedy and we’re a cartoon, it’s just about dropping bombs, dropping 22 minutes of bombs. But as the show has evolved and people love the characters and they love the relationships we’ve been able to add more complexity to those characters. So, I really feel like the moment where “Lana” got softened was when she realized that “Archer” was willing to die for her at the end of that Sealab two-parter and that would have been, that was in Season 3.
And then in Season 4 she decides to have a baby and then in Season 5 she’s pregnant, so I just had more to do. I didn’t have to do any research. Luckily I’ve been acting for a very long time and the nice thing about Archer is that there’s nothing to do but the emotional work because there’s no props and no wardrobe and no make-up and no marks to hit, so it’s just about your interior life and trying to think and feel the things that your character thinks and feels.
Again, even though it’s a comedy and sometimes we’re working at peak intensity, I always try to really work on “Lana’s” interior life and how she truly feels about her job, how she truly feels about her co-workers and how she really feels about “Archer,” which is that this is someone who she ultimately loves and loathes and who I think she has a lot of compassion for, she’s the only one that probably sees his soft side and remember when he had cancer and she was really there for him. They’re bonded in a way that we don’t always give them credit for.
I think they really love each other. I’m always trying to play that truth even if the comedy is extreme, so it was just a joy. I do remember when we did the stuff where “Lana” got to tell “Archer” about “A.J.,” that was at the end of Season 5, that was really fun to play and we did it a few times because the guys wanted it to be really, really tender and I think I did have to do a little bit of work to get to that really, really tender place. She had never been quite that soft and lovely towards “Archer.”
It’s fun; it’s just fun to have a variety instead of just always screaming “Archer.” If somebody did a mash-up or an [indiscernible] remix of me saying “Archer,” it would probably be 97 minutes long. I’ve yelled at the guy so many times, so it’s nice to have the diversity of emotional range now.
Archer returns this Thursday Night with an all-new episode on FX @ 10 pm ET/PT, check your local listings.