H. Jon Benjamin Interview: ‘Archer: 1999,’ ‘Bob’s Burgers’
H. Jon Benjamin‘s voice is instantly recognizable to many people but, as he tells us in our recent webchat (watch the video above), it’s not something that he ever planned on. “I started doing comedy in Boston, Massachusetts in the early ’90s and I didn’t really know about voice acting,” he says. Everything started to change when Jonathan Katz, a friend and fellow stand-up, approached Benjamin about providing a voice for his small animated show, “Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist,” on Comedy Central. From then on, he has been one of the most prominent voice actors in the industry, much to the surprise of Benjamin himself. “I had no intention of doing it for a living and I’m still shocked that I do.”
Benjamin is currently on two shows where he voices the titular characters. On FXX’s “Archer,” he voices the reckless, womanizing and self-centered secret agent and on Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers,” he plays the frustrated but devoted father and chef. In 2010, Benjamin earned “Archer” its first ever Emmy nomination when he scored a nom in the Best Voice-Over Performance category. Since then, both shows have gone on to Emmy glory with “Bob’s Burgers” picking up Best Animated Program in 2014 (“Mazel-Tina”) and 2017 (“Bob Actually’) and “Archer” winning in 2016 (“The Figgis Agency”).
“Archer” as a show has been on its own unique creative journey over the years. The end of season seven sees Sterling floating in a pool after having been shot several times. The eighth season revealed that Sterling was in a coma and the season turned into an extended dream sequence with the subsequent two seasons also having the same template. At the end of the most recent season, titled “Archer: 1999,” Sterling awakes from his coma to find his mother waiting by his side and then finding out that he had been in the coma for three years. The upcoming eleventh season will go back to the characters in their original context.
Even with the all the changes that “Archer” has seen over the last several years, the role hasn’t felt any different to voice for Benjamin. “The show may change but Archer stays the same,” he explains. It’s something that’s also fortuitous for Benjamin as he admits to sharing several characteristics with the suave spy. “I’ve been called an ‘arrogant asshole’ by family members. I also share his child-like quality in enjoying practical jokes or messing with somebody. We definitely share that kind of childish arrogance.”