Judy Greer on ‘Archer’

The actress behind Cheryl/Carol dives into her nutty character on TV’s funniest animated series.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Although Judy Greer is currently co-starring in the CBS sitcom, “Mad Love,” animation and comedy fans probably best know her for her role as Cheryl/Carol on the FX series, “Archer.” Currently near  the end of its second season (with a third season already assured), Greer provides the voice for the long suffering secretary at ISIS… who just had a major secret from her past revealed in the tenth episode of the season.

Greer recently spoke with the press about her background in voiceover, her experiences on “Archer” and just what makes Cheryl/Carol tick in the zany universe that she inhabits.


Q:  How did you get your start in animation? And why did you ultimately decide to sign on for “Archer”?

Judy Greer:  My first experience in animation, I think I did like one word on “Family Guy” like 100 years ago.  I mean, seriously, like ten years ago, I think I said one word on an episode and I was excited about that. Then, I did this little tiny role in a movie, a Japanese animated zone called “The Cat Returns.”  Then I auditioned for this Nickelodeon show called “Glenn Martin DDS” and got booked on that. 

Then while that was happening, I just was on location working on a movie and I got sent the script for “Archer” and they just said, ‘Yes, they just offered it, so you can just do this like on your day off in a local sound recording studio in Phoenix,’ which I did.  I read the script before I went in and it was so dirty, I was like this is never going to make it on the air, but like whatever, I’ll make a couple of bucks for the day, my day off, anyways. Then, who knew? It was snowballing and… I loved it. But I always feel like whenever I love something, it never makes it on television, which is probably why all my pilots have failed until now. But, it was so good and funny and silly and naughty and dirty and I was excited about it. That’s my voice-over history. 

Q:  In the most recent episode of “Archer,” we learn that Cheryl has been keeping a lot of secrets from her co-workers. How do you think she kept that information under wraps while working for a spy agency?

Judy Greer:  Adam Reed could disagree with me, but my interpretation is that she isn’t trying to keep the secret. That she doesn’t care. Like, she changed her last name to avoid getting kidnapped, but really, if anyone figured it out and asked her, she’d just probably be like “Yeah, shut up!” or whatever. I feel like everyone at ISIS is so self-involved and so concerned with furthering their own agenda that it would never occur to them to think that anyone else has anything else going on besides like what their idea is.

Q:  What’s it like to play a character who can’t decide whether to be called Carol or Cheryl?

Judy Greer:  I think it’s awesome. I think that it’s funny because my name is Judy and so for my whole life I’ve been called some version of Judy because sometimes it’s Julie. When I was young and I was really shy, I would be too shy to correct people and so a lot of people would call me Julie. So, it kind of feels like home to me to have two names.

Q:  Do you have a favorite Cheryl/Carol scene from her outrageous moments on the show?

Judy Greer:  Well, I do always love when I was getting strangled while having sex. That was outrageous. That was so outrageous to me, but I have to say that like… The beginning of [the most recent] episode is so funny. I love throwing Pam under the bus almost literally. It makes me laugh so hard when I just keep screaming that her name is Carol and it’s so funny to me. I love her back and forth with Pam in that beginning episode.

Q:  Is there anyone that you would like to see guest star on “Archer”?

Judy Greer:  Matt Damon, because then I could meet him, maybe if he was in L.A. when he did it and if they’d schedule us back to back, I would totally send a mean letter to someone in charge. I guess, I would like to see people star on “Archer” who I want to meet, but only if they’re in L.A. like Matt Damon or I think it’d be really fun to have Sarah Silverman on it. II don’t know if she’s been on it. It feels like she should have but maybe, she hasn’t. She’d be… awesome. Michael Hall would be so fun to have on “Archer.” He’s such a great voice! I feel like I could go on and on…

Q:  As we understand it, the cast doesn’t tape their voiceovers together. Is that right?

Judy Greer:  Yes, we never see each other ever.  I think one time I got to [see] Aisha [Tyler] who was coming in as I was leaving. The first time I really met everyone was at Comic-Con this year when we all went and they showed an episode and we did a panel and everything. Usually what happens is like when we’re in production, I would say about every two weeks they call and schedule around my schedule, which is so lovely, a 30-minute block of time for me to go in and say my lines. Adam Reeds writes every episode. He does it with me usually over the phone. Sometimes, it’s someone else, but most of the time it’s Adam. He’s over the phone in my headphones when I’m in the recording studio and he reads all the scenes with me. We just do it over and over and over a handful of times until he’s laughing out loud and then we move on. 

It’s really fun.  It’s really easy and they’ll email me the script a couple of days beforehand. Like I said, if I’m working on something else, or whatever, they just work around my schedule. On my end, it couldn’t be simpler. The weird thing is that when I watch the episodes, I feel like I see so much chemistry between us all and we’re never together ever. I mean, we’re together when we have to do these publicity events, but otherwise, we don’t record together. We record with Adam. Like Adam just knows exactly what he wants and he’s able to translate it when he’s reading with us like so well and so then when he cuts all the voices together, it’s magic. But it does seem like we’re all talking to each other at the same time and reacting to the same thing and that … tonally, I’m always so surprised that like tonally, it always works. That you don’t have anyone that seems like they’re in a different episode. I’m impressed. The end.