A well-known Hollywood actor, Tony Hale, paid Providence students a special visit on Thursday, April 27. Best known for his work on Fox’s “Arrested Development,” Hale brought his comedic expertise to an academic setting by visiting two of Dr. Aaron Belz’ afternoon classes, namely, Introduction to Literature and Comedy and Modernism. “This is a class,” warned Belz with a smile, “not just a time to meet someone beautiful and famous.” After the classes finished, Hale generously stayed for an interview.
Hale is a recognized “physical actor,” an actor that is gifted at conveying a message with both facial and bodily expressions. This allows him to create a comedic situation without relying on the humor written into the script. According to Hale, his animated acting draws inspiration largely from Tim Conway, known best for his work on “The Carol Burnett Show.” “He could say so much without saying anything,” said Hale.
Sharing insight into the nature of comedic acting, Hale said, “The key is to trust the circumstances. Many times the comic actors make the mistake of pushing the comedy.” If the circumstances are already funny, he said, utilize them to tell the story. Granted, Hale admitted that if the writing is “not that great,” an actor must work a little harder to be funny. This, however, was rarely a problem while working on the set of “Arrested Development.” More than once, Hale praised the show’s writers for their thoughtful and hilarious scripts. Henry Delaplane, a sophomore, said, “It was cool to hear his insight on comedy—a great way to end the Comedy and Modernism class after a whole semester.” Delaplane himself has toyed with the idea of working in the theater industry.
Acting in Hollywood is not easy. It is a business of repeated rejection in which most actors never make it big. “Being in this business,” said Hale, “as chaotic as it is, without a spiritual foundation—I think that would be very difficult.” There are times in which actors feel that they may have just missed the opportunity of their life, but Hale finds comfort in the sovereignty of God. “Knowing that God has my back takes off a lot of pressure,” he said.
As a Christian in the acting business, Hale was able to offer valuable advice to any Providence Students who are thinking about following in his footsteps. “In this business, since there is so much rejection, and it’s so job-to-job and chaotic, you’ve got to have a great support system,” he said. “If you don’t have a support system, it will eat you up.” Hale furthermore remarked on the importance of humility and contentment. “If you do finally make it successful, and you haven’t practiced contentment [in the past], then you will never be content. You will always want more.”
Finally, when asked if he would have attended Providence Christian College if he could rewind his life, he said, “This is a pretty sweet place.” He commented on what an incredible opportunity it is for students to be able to have such a close relationship with their professors, saying, “I think it would be great.”
Students, who had anxiously anticipated Hale’s visit, were thrilled to listen to the things he had to say. Junior Jacob Fisher said, “He was great—very thoughtful.” Remarking on his ability to balance being both a Christian and an actor, Fisher said, “He deals with it all in a very lighthearted Christian manner. He can be happy about it all without second guessing himself.”
Hale said he is eagerly preparing to appear in a brand new HBO show called “Veep,” which is scheduled to start filming in the fall and will most likely air in the spring. Hale also mentioned the likelihood that he will participate in the highly anticipated “Arrested Development” movie in the future.