‘Archer’ Exclusive Part II: EP Matt Thompson On Season 5 Guest Stars And Pam’s Evolving Role

Yesterday we delivered “the big reveal” for Archer Season 5 in part one of our interview with Executive Producer Matt Thompson. With all the HOLY SH*T out of the way, we’re in a safe place to delve into part two of the interview where we discuss this season’s returning guest stars, new guest stars, the rise of Pam, the “Danger Zone” video, and what goes into making an episode. Matt — as always — was cool enough to give us the unfiltered scoop.

Convenient lead-ins and Season 5 spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned.

On guest stars and returning characters in Season 5…

The rogue, the Wile E. Coyote on our ISIS crew’s Road Runner tail, is being played by Gary Cole. He plays SAC Holly. “SAC” stands for “Special Agent in Charge.” He shuts us down. He checks up on us. Makes sure that we’re not doing anything illegal.

Ron Perlman’s back as Ramon Limon, and Thomas Lennon is back as the half of the Charles and Rudy duo. Mr. Moto is back, George Takei. When we last left Mr. Moto he was in the episode where Pam was drift racing. And Malory shot him and says something like, “This is for Pearl Harbor!” And I think [in season five] when somebody figures out that Mr. Moto is on their trail for whatever reason, they’re like, “Mr. Moto? I thought you shot him.” And Malory says, “Oh who remembers?”

On additional guest stars that may or may not happen…

There are some other people that we have big plans for. I need to see it all come to fruition. I’ve talked to the actors about it, and they know about it, but it hasn’t happened. So I’m not positive. We’ve been wanting to get Christian Slater involved for a while and I think Adam’s actually got a role for him as kind of this dirty CIA agent that we want to do.

On the one guest star that has to happen…

And then we’re also talking to Kenny Loggins’s agent about having Kenny on the show and one or two things is going to happen. We’re not sure which way it’s going to go at this point. It’s either Archer buys Kenny Loggins for Lana as a baby shower present to sing “Danger Zone” to her. Or Lana and Cherlene do a “Country Zone”-“Danger Zone” duet. It hasn’t been written, but there are still episodes to go. If he is not in the show this year it’s f*cked up. I’m going to be pissed off if he’s not.

On season finale guest star potentials…

And then there’s somebody we’re trying to do a multiple episode (finale) arch for like we did with John Hamm and Bryan Cranston. But I don’t want to say who that person is because I’m trying to close the thing today. They haven’t been written, but he’s like the plain kind of president of a fake Latin American country that we get involved with for our cocaine and stuff like that. Kind of based upon like Baby Doc Duvalier. Everything seems like he’s just rich and everything’s cool, but you know he sends the secret police to your house ’cause you wore the wrong color socks that day type of guy.

On Pam’s rise as fan favorite and what to expect from her this season…

I think it started with “Archer Live!” that I really began to see it. And then you begin to look online at people’s comments and the character that everybody loves is Pam. You know I’m also a big fan of people who get the jokes. You feed jokes to Pam. You feed jokes to Krieger and Archer. Krieger works best for me in small chunks because you want to leave him as weird. You can’t stay that long with that character or else it’s just a big pile of weird.

Pam has somehow bridged the gap on being able to do funny things and yet still be believable. So more so than ever this season she’s become a bigger more major part of the show where we’re teaming her up with Archer more and more and more. And to do that we wanted her to have a thing that really kind of carried her through the season. So she is, she gets addicted to cocaine like day one. To see her what she does because she’s addicted to coke. You know you give the person who is addicted to coke access to one ton of cocaine and it’s pretty awesome.

And so I think we have just seen, for us as well, we just want more Pam. So she’s getting more and more lines, become more and more part of the central story and not just the comic relief. And the big thing about it is seeing how she deals with all this cocaine.

On the Archer-ized “Danger Zone” music video

We’ve been asking to do it for about two years. And we were just like, “Hey, we would love to do this ‘Danger Zon’e thing. Here’s what it is.” But you know it’s a process of getting the show built up enough to where the ratings were good enough, people were watching enough. It’s a big expenditure by FX to do that because that making of that video with the animation and the rights to that song and the — it costs almost half as much as a full episode because there are all these new sets, all these new drawings. Then you’ve got to license that song. So that’s an expensive joke. That’s the most expensive joke this show’s ever done.

I know it’s great and I think our people did a wonderful job of it. But I also at the same time commend FX for saying, “F*ck it. We’re going to do it. Here’s a giant check. Go make it it cause we want to do it correctly.”

On replicating Kenny Loggins’ video shot for shot…

If you watch the actual Kenny Loggins video for that song, or the movie, we’re trying to be as exact as we possibly can, like down to where people are standing in the blocking into what’s happening. And I think that’s part of the great thing is to watch what our illustrators and animators did with making jokes inside of the exact same setups. A lot of those jokes just came from our staff. And I would just say, “F*ck yeah. Good joke dude.” I love it when they give you something and you’re just like, “Awesome. Didn’t see that coming. Love it.”

Like, for example, I know what everyone’s glommed onto is the “Other Barry” Locker, which is great, which is not our joke. One of our illustrator’s jokes. But my favorite is how that Cyril’s helmet for just like a half second shot says “Fig Goose.” And that was my favorite one.

On what goes in to making a single episode…

Every department has three weeks to do their sh*t. Adam writes a script, three weeks. And then he gives it to Art Direction and Storyboard, three weeks. And then that goes down the pipeline. That kind of splits off to the character illustrators and the prop signers and then at the same time we’ll be recording it, editing it, you know doing all that stuff. And everybody gets three weeks. And when you put it all together with the overlap, like in theory you get through boarding episode five and the day you finish episode five, episode six is waiting for you. And you know, you know work day you know for a week you’re on the road.

If every plate is spinning correctly that’s what happens. But a lot of times we get behind.

We have even more Archer Season 5 stuff to come later (WOO HOO! UPDATE: Sterling Archer Supercut!) this week. Stick around.