Ahead of Archer Season 12, Awards Daily talks to those who worked with the late, great Jessica Walter, who remember the actress for her professionalism and kindness.
When news hit this past spring that actress Jessica Walter had passed away, the world and Twitter were in mourning. Soon, everyone was sharing gifs of their favorite Lucille Bluth quotes and remembering the actress for her breadth of work, including voice work as the mother on ABC’s Dinosaurs and of course Malory Archer on FX’s Archer.
Then, in July, Walter was nominated for her work on Season 11 of the animated comedy – Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (“The Double Date”), reminding audiences that even though she may no longer be here with us, her work continues to live on.
Here’s what Walter’s Archer colleagues had to say about the actress, who was known as the “lovely, consummate professional,” despite being known for playing the mean baddie.
Adam Reed – Creator / Executive Producer
“One of the things that always struck me about Jessica Walter – besides her kindness and generosity – was that she was just as gifted an actor in the recording booth as she was on-screen. That’s really a rare and special talent – as was Jessica – and I think it’s wonderful she’s finally being recognized for all her years of bringing ‘Malory Archer’ to life.”
Matt Thompson – Executive Producer
“Jessica had a very special place in her heart for talented writers. Whenever she read a particular script that she thought was excellent, she would start off the voiceover session by saying with reverence, ‘If it is not on the page, it is not on the stage.’ And then we would spend the next five minutes listening to her gush over the writing. She appreciated the writing so much because she strived to make every single performance as good as she possibly could, and she knew how difficult that task would be with inferior dialogue.”
Casey Willis – Executive Producer
“Jessica Walter should win an Emmy for her work on Archer because she elevated every line she delivered and every scene she appeared in as ‘Malory.’ She was the most dedicated, most professional and most caring actor with whom I worked. On top of all that, she was funny as hell!”
Jon Benjamin – “Sterling Archer”
“In animation, you record for an episode about a year before you see it and I remember recording the pilot episode, ‘Mole Hunt,’ and finally seeing the first scene with Jessica Walter and I – never having had met her yet in real life. I was floored by how good she was from her first line. She commanded every scene she was in. Pretty flawless performances in every scene she was in that followed. I re-watch stuff and occasionally judge how I could have been better in one scene or another, but she was always great.”
Aisha Tyler – “Lana Kane”
“Whenever we were together as a cast, we revolved around Jessica Walter like planets around a sun. We gravitated towards her warmth and humor like fans at a concert. She made us all funner, cooler, smarter, sweeter. She was a massive star, but around us, she was kind and accessible — just Jessica — that is, until she told a joke that made us all clamber frantically for a gulp of ice water to cool the burning heat of her comedic genius.”
Chris Parnell – “Cyril Figgis”
“Jessica Walter was an amazing lady. She was the lovely consummate professional, and I feel so thankful to have known her and worked with her on Archer. I think all of us really looked up to her. She was smart, tough, sophisticated, elegant and hilarious. I got to perform onstage with her once at the (I think) New York Comedy Festival. We were taking turns reading from someone’s celebrity autobiography, and though I figured she’d give a very solid and funny reading, she amazed me with her timing and sense of how to play each line perfectly to the room. It was like she’d had a secret career doing standup for 40 years. The crowd was hanging on her every word and laughing their asses off. Jessica never stopped being amazing. We miss her sorely.”
Judy Greer – “Cheryl/Carol Tunt”
“In all the years I worked with Jessica Walter, I never lost the feeling of wanting to impress her.”
Amber Nash – “Pam Poovey”
“How a woman that was so kind and generous could play such a mean baddie is a testament to the actress that Jessica was.
When we’d do panels or interviews with Jessica, at first I worried about how dirty we were. Every time though, inevitably, Jessica would find the perfect moment and cut in with the most devastatingly sharp and hilarious quip that would just destroy us, and we’d be like ‘Yup, that’s how it’s done kids.’”
Lucky Yates – “Algernop Krieger”
“Jessica was everything you’d want her to be and so much more, but above all else, the lady was a PRO, the likes of which we’ll never see again.”
Archer premieres its 12th season with two new episodes airing back-to-back Wednesday, August 25 beginning at 10p ET/PT on FXX, streaming the next day via FX on Hulu. Catch up on seasons 1-11 now via FX on Hulu.