At some point in our lives, everyone has felt like a Tony Hale character. From mother boy Buster Bluth in Arrested Development to the cowering Jerome Squalor in A Series of Unfortunate Events to the titular chicken of Archibald’s Next Big Thing, to Mr. Benedict in The Mysterious Benedict Society, and of course, the ever-fearful and bewildered Forky in Toy Story 4, Tony Hale has figured out how to channel nervous energy into art. But, while appearing on Fatherly’s newest podcast, Finding Raffi, Hale pointed out that his specific brand of anxiety isn’t something he wasn’t to pass along to his own kid.
“I need a lot of affirmation,” Hale jokes, speaking to Finding Raffi host Chris Garcia. “Constant affirmation.” But, Hale’s anxiousness and search for affirmation isn’t entirely a joke. In fact, he eventually channeled his childhood troubles into his creative work.
“When I was a kid, I was very anxious. I was an asthmatic kid and I had a lot of anxiety around that. And I think when I was a kid, I just wanted everybody to like me and a lot of people-pleasing stuff,” Hale explains. “So even though that sucked walking through that as a kid, it’s been nice to kind of bring it into your work. Like, I know what a panic attack feels like. I know, I know what severe anxiety can [do,] how that can manifest. And so it’s nice to kind of have that history, even though it’s not something that I struggle with as much as I used to.”
Basically, whenever you’re seeing a Tony Hale performance, you’re witnessing a kind of sublimation. He took his nervous tics and turned those into the kinds of characters everyone loves. But, at the same time, Hale doesn’t want to pass along all of these kinds of anxious feelings to his own child, the now-teenage Loy Ann Hale. He’s aware that being a “snowplow parent” can be detrimental, but he’s also not into his daughter having to go through what he endured.
“I don’t want my daughter to be in pain. I don’t want her to have anxiety,” Hale says.
Essentially, Hale knows that all parents walk a delicate line: On the one side, he doesn’t want his daughter to go through what he went through, on the other side, being a helicopter parent or a snowplow parent can accidentally create a situation not dissimilar to Buster from Arrested Development. “I want so bad to fix and be like, OK, this is how you can get around that challenge,” Hale says. “This is how you can take this shortcut. But, I’ve got to sit and listen and understand and allow her to walk through it. And that is really hard. It’s really hard.”
You can listen to the rest of Tony Hale’s conversation with Chris Garcia in the Finding Raffi episode “Shake My Sillies Out,” which also features an appearance from Ziggy Marley, and the secret origin of Raffi’s classic song, “Bananaphone.”
Here are a few platforms to check out Finding Raffi.