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The Real Reason Pam Sounds Different In Archer - Exclusive

Few Archer characters have evolved more than Pam Poovey, who went from the spy agency's oft-ignored Human Resources director to a brawling field agent. Along the way, something else changed: her vocal affectations. Archer's had a consistent voice cast for 11 seasons now — including the voice of Pam herself, Amber Nash. Looper recently spoke with Nash in an exclusive interview about the evolution of her character, and we took that time to ask about why Pam's voice sounds different now than it used to.

Nash's normal speaking voice is much less raspy than Pam's, and the actress noted that "Pam's really the only character that has a bit of a character voice." However, as Nash explained, the producers told everyone at the start of the show, "We don't really want people to do character voices." This matches up with other cast member interviews Looper conducted. Dr. Algernop Krieger voice actor Lucky Yates told us, "I don't really change my voice all that much, I just keep it down in the lower register," and Archer actor H. Jon Benjamin's voice is comedically rigid.

While she's not able to nail down the exact point the Pam Poovey voice changed, Nash partially chalks it up to familiarity, saying, "I just became more comfortable with the character." To track Pam's vocal change, a full series rewatch of Archer might be in order, as Nash noted that it's a "great question to think about."

"I haven't gone back, and watched all the episodes," she admitted, "even though I thought about it at the beginning of the pandemic." Even so, when Nash does hear clips from earlier seasons, she acknowledges that there's a difference: "One of my friends actually said that Pam sounded a lot more like [me] in the early days, and [now] Pam's become more and more Pam."

Fighting, eating, and bear claws

Pam becoming a field agent meant getting into fights, which also added to how Nash performed the character. Archer voice actors generally read their lines in script order, but they always wait until the end for a fight scene or anything that requires exertion, since that requires a lot of physical activity in the booth. 

"After a recording, I am sweaty, I've been in there punching, and moving around," said Nash. "You can really hear the difference when you're just standing still versus when you're actually moving your body around."

Pam also talks with her mouth full — a lot. What started as a joke about bear claws, those delicious pastries often sold in donut shops, turned into a running gag that reached its peak during Archer season 5 when Pam ate all that cocaine. How does Nash make those moments sound realistic? "I would eat just about anything they had at the studio, like cheese puffs and granola bars. I put pencils and tissue in my mouth," she told Looper, adding with a laugh, "Everything's been on my mouth in order to record Pam's lines." 

Catch the newest episode of Archer on Wednesday, September 30 at 10 PM ET on FXX. Stay tuned to Looper for more exclusive Archer coverage.