Emmy award-winning actor Tony Hale, most famous for his role as the 30-year-old momma’s boy Buster Bluth in the critically acclaimed sitcom Arrested Development, joked about his life and career during a discussion and book signing in Hunt Library Saturday evening.
Hale’s sister, Kimberly Hale Andreaus, is a professor of social work at NC State and helped bring the event to the Hunt Library auditorium as part of homecoming weekend.
“Social workers, social work educators, celebrities—tonight, in all seriousness, our paths do intersect,” Andreaus said. “And it is not because many of the characters he portrays need social workers.”
Andreaus said the values Hale deals with in his children’s book Archibald’s Next Big Thing, such as mindfulness, appreciation for the present and self-awareness, are some of the same values at the core of social work.
In addition to being relevant to the work of social workers, Hale said the moral of his story is also relevant to the lives of many college students.
In his children’s book, a chicken named Archibald receives a card telling him that his “big thing is here,” which spurs him to go on a fantastic journey looking for that big thing he thinks he is going to find.
Hale said many college students can learn something from Archibald, who is unable to appreciate all the great adventures he has throughout the story because he is looking for his mysterious big thing.
“You have tremendous value right where you are right now,” Hale said. “It’s not always about that next big thing.”
Hale answered a series of questions from a moderator before he opened the floor up to questions from the audience.
Many of the questions in the Q&A were centered around stories from the sets of his most famous roles, including Buster Bluth from Arrested Development and Gary Walsh on the HBO comedy VEEP.
One audience member asked Hale what is was like to go to work with the same cast after taking a six-year hiatus, referring to the break between seasons three and four of Arrested Development.
Hale said he was nervous to get back into playing the same character after such a long break, but after hearing the voice of Jessica Walter, the actress who portrays Buster’s overbearing, manipulative mother on set the first day back, he immediately was able to snap back into Buster’s ridiculous character.
“It was like Pavlovian,” Hale said.
Areon Mobasher, an undeclared sophomore, said he came to the event because, as an actor himself, he was curious to see how actors are in real-life settings. Mobasher also said he was a big fan of Hale’s work.
“People [who] have never seen Arrested Development may have trouble understanding just how brilliantly he portrays this iconic and strangely submissive character,” Mobasher said.
Mobasher also said he wasn’t expecting the discussion about Hale’s children’s book to be so relatable.
“The big point he was driving home was contentment in the place that you are in life,” Mobasher said. “It got very personal. A lot more than I thought it would be.”
During his talk, Hale mentioned how lucky students at NC State are to have so many resources available to them and joked about Hunt Library’s high-tech design.
“This library is ridiculous,” Hale said. “It’s like Gattaca!”
His sister said she wanted to help bring Hale to NC State to call attention to the important work being done within the Department of Social Work.
“He wanted to be here tonight to support the Department of Social Work and to help us to provide financial resources that our students need to conduct our meaningful interactions,” Andreaus said.
One piece of advice Hale gave to graduating students was to surround themselves with caring people who will be there to help them cope with failure.
Hale said he would never have been able to deal with the rejection in the early stages of his acting career without the support of his family and friends.
“It is so massively important to invest in a support system,” Hale said.