‘VEEP’ Star Tony Hale Describes Playing Double Duty in Hulu’s Adaptation of ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ (Exclusive)

After winning two Emmys as Gary Walsh on HBO's VEEP, Tony Hale will mark his return to television in front of the camera with Hulu's The Mysterious Benedict Society. The new series is based on the young adult novel series written by Trenton Lee Stewart and will require the versatile Hale to perform two roles. Like VEEP, The Mysterious Benedict Society surrounds Hale with children, although unlike the political satire, these are real children, not adults behaving like children.

The Mysterious Benedict Society will star Hale as Mr. Benedict, an eccentric genius who brings four orphans together to save the world. The orphans are played by Emmy DeOliveria, Seth Carr, Mystic Inscho, and Marta Timofeeva, while Kristen Schaal also plays Benedict's lieutenant. Hale also gets to play Mr. Benedict's evil twin brother, Mr. Curtain, "who is causing all this negativity" that comes into the world of the show, Hale told PopCulture.com.

The series was originally set to start filming in April, but then everything was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hale said. Now, production is set to begin soon in Vancouver, where the cast is already in quarantine. "What I appreciate is they're really working overtime to make sure everybody feels safe, to match the guidelines and the COVID protocol and all that kind of stuff," Hale said of the show's production team. "So it's a new day, man... Everybody's going through this and everybody is just trying to do the best they can."

Hale still looks fondly back on VEEP, which ended its run on HBO last year. The show occupies a unique place in pop culture today since many of the real world events seem as crazy as the ones portrayed on the show. It got to a point where it became tough for the "writers to compete" with reality, Hale said. He noted there have been "so many moments" in a reality where you could play the VEEP theme song and it would feel "straight from the show."

Mr. Benedict could be Hale's third great leading television role if Benedict Society is a hit. Before he played Gary, Hale also starred as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development. All three characters had different qualities, but Hale has felt a kinship with them through his own struggle with anxiety due to his asthma. "Buster kind of had this panic anxiety that I was very familiar with because of my asthma," Hale said. "As did Gary on VEEP. And then Mysterious Benedict Society kind of gets into this empathy" and teaching others empathy. Hale noted his own ability to empathize with people inspired his partnership with AstraZeneca to raise awareness of asthma during the coronavirus pandemic.