When Atlanta-based theatre and voice actress Amber Nash first boarded FX’s bonkers animated spy series Archer, she thought it would last as long as her last gig, Frisky Dingo, an adult anime co-created by Archer maestro Adam Reed — she was on it for a few episodes. Cut to 10 years later: Nash is in her ninth season of Archer, on which she voices Pam Poovey, a boisterous HR director (think Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids but blonder and waaay nuttier) who winds up as the occasional sidekick and muscle of the bumbling secret agent Sterling Archer (H Jon Benjamin). In the show’s Season 9, subtitled Danger Island, Archer is reborn as an alcoholic pilot running a seaplane company on a tropical island with Pam in 1939. “It makes you want to drink a Mai Tai because you’re on this island, getting into all kinds of trouble,” Nash tells us over the phone from Atlanta. “Pam is also gigantic this season; she’s like seven-feet tall! They described her to me as Archer’s Chewbacca because she’s his co-pilot!”
8 DAYS: Archer is now in its ninth season. It’s amazing that the cast rapport still crackles. Looking back, was the chemistry instantaneous?
AMBER NASH: No, actually. In fact, I didn’t meet any of the other cast members until we were done recording Season 2. I didn’t know anybody and the only people I knew were Lucky Yates, who does Dr Krieger, and the show producers, Matt Thompson and Adam Reed. [Also,] we don’t work together — we record our lines separately because we live in different places. So I think that’s why we still like each other because we don’t actually work together.
Separately?! But you guys sound like you are in the same room.
We’re really lucky because the editing is so good and that’s how it makes it seem like we’re all in the same room together. So I think we were really lucky from the beginning to have such good editors on the show to make it seem so real. But I do wish that we got to all work together more often.
Who are your favourite guests?
We’ve had so many amazing guest stars, and the funny thing is, I haven’t met any of them because they all recorded their lines somewhere else. They’d have no idea who I am even if they bumped into me on the street. But I think my favourite guest star was Christian Slater, because he was on the show for so long, and as an ̕80s kid, meeting Christian Slater was huge for me. I was like, “Oh my God, it’s Christian Slater!” when I walked into a room and he was like, “Amber, it’s very nice to meet you, I’m a big fan,” I almost died.
Which episodes are you most proud of?
I loved all of Season Five, Archer Vice. Some people loved it, some people hated it, but I thought it was really fun. It was fun for Pam to kind of be Archer’s sidekick, and I liked ‘Southbound and Down’,it's one of my favourite episodes; it's the one where Pam and Archer are on a road trip together. And also in this season, Danger Island, there’s a lot of Pam and Archer, and it’s super fun.
You come from an improv background. How much of the dialogue is scripted?
I’d honestly say it’s probably 98 per cent scripted. It’s very tightly scripted because Adam’s just such a great writer that we don’t need to ad-lib very much. Oftentimes, when we do a line where everyone is reacting to something — like a gunshot or someone getting pushed off of a bridge — that’s where we usually do any improvising. But there’s not a lot of those scenes, actually.
Pam is a fan-favourite. What kind of fans have you encountered at conventions?
All kinds! I’ve met a lot of people who have Pam tattoos on their bodies. There are lots of people who cosplay as Pam. There was a woman who made a Jägerator — the machine that makes Jäger cold that Pam has in Season 2 — and it actually worked! That was very cool.
Is there another animated show you’d like to be part of?
I think the dream of every voice actor is The Simpsons. It’s just so iconic! There had been some talks for a while that The Flinstones was going to get rebooted by Seth McFarlane, but then I think that fell through. But I would’ve loved to be on the reboot of The Flinstones. I’d be a perfect Wilma Flintstone. That would’ve been a dream come true.
Besides Archer, you’re also part of Dad’s Garage Theatre. Does that take up most of your time?
It does take up a lot of my time, but it’s also very flexible because it’s a company I’ve been with for a really long time, so they completely understand if I need to travel and go do stuff. I’m constantly at the theatre while I’m making new stuff. My husband [Kevin Gillese, Artistic Director of Dad’s Garage] and I did a pilot for a travel show, and we’ve done a couple of short films, podcasts and web series. So we’re always making stuff, and we just got to see what hits. I’m always auditioning, so I’m not sure what the future holds.
A travel show? Have you been to Asia?
Yes! I do travel a lot. In fact I’ve been to Singapore. and that’s the only place I’ve been to in Asia. I was in Singapore in 2014 because my husband was in Singapore teaching high school kids improv for two weeks, so I came with him. We got to go all around Singapore, and did the touristy stuff. We visited Haw Par Villa and Gardens by the Bay. And we were staying in Holland Village. It’s so beautiful! I love Singapore. I’d love to come back.
Archer: Danger Island airs Thur, FX (Singtel TV Ch 310 & StarHub Ch 507), 9.30pm. It’s also on Fox+ and Netflix (only Seasons 1--8). Follow @ambercnash on Twitter and Instagram.
Main photo: Seth Olenick/Hair & Make-up: Serena Ryan