Who is the voice of Archer on the FX series? Is it based on anyone?
—Arthur Gatiss, Boston, Massachusetts
H. Jon Benjamin, 47, is the voice of Archer on the eponymous TV series. He also is known for having voiced Dr. Katz’s lazy son Ben on “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,” and, he currently also speaks as Bob Belcher in FOX’s animated series “Bob’s Burgers.”
As to his inspiration for Archer’s voice, Benjamin says he didn’t base him on anyone in particular.
“I had the initial idea to try and portray him as suave, but I couldn’t really do that,” the Worcester, Massachusetts-born actor/comedian says. “So, I just played it by ear. I kind of pictured him in a tuxedo a lot like James Bond. I just don’t embody that. I can barely get into a tux, so I just played him as a hyper-aggressive version of me.”
Growing up, Benjamin had several other professions in mind, and never gave a thought to voice acting. He jokes, “When I was younger I [wanted to be] a fireman, an arsonist, an insurance adjustor — a lot to do with fire and fire making and fire prevention. I mean I definitely didn’t want to get into voice acting. I just was interested in acting and [doing voices] was what I was good at early on.”
Benjamin launched his comedy career in Boston at age 24 as part of a duo. From there, he continued to work as part of comedy teams or troupes, rather than as an individual, and eventually he began to land voice work. Because he was used to the physicality of his comedy career, he initially had difficulty switching to voice acting because it is physically restrained.
“I’m not tied up or anything, except on occasion from the night before,” he says jokingly. Then more seriously he says, “It was a little bit difficult when I started, but I guess I’m just used to it now since I’ve been doing for so long. At first it was definitely odd working alone in a booth. I remember feeling, ‘How do you negotiate this? Can I yell? There’s a lot of natural restraints, which I wouldn’t do in a live performance.”
That’s not to say that Benjamin hasn’t appeared on camera. He has acted in “Not Another Teen Movie,” and the FX series “Rescue Me,” among others, and he would like to do more of that.
“I do on-camera work when I’m asked to do it,” he says. “I have no problem with it. I’ve worked on live shows of my own and I’m working on one now. Hopefully, you’ll see me in that. So I don’t rule it out. I just rarely get asked.”