Every Friday from now on, Matt Thompson will be giving Vulture the down-low on the inside jokes and obscure references from that week’s episode. In last night’s “Midnight Ron,”Archer and his stepdad bonded while being chased by gangsters. Here, Thompson tells us about recruiting a former Top Chef finalist to play one special trucker and having Jessica Walter’s husband voice “the most boringest man on this entire planet of Earth.”
The name of last night’s episode is “Midnight Ron,” which is my all-time second favorite Archer episode name.* I didn’t think I’d have to explain the connection to Midnight Run, but then some of the Archer staff said they’d never seen it. Then I realized they were all younger than 25, meaning they weren’t even born when Midnight Run came out. Then I realized I was very old and I wept. If you have not seen it, please do so immediately. Charles Grodin is amazing in that movie.
There are obviously a lot of differences between our episode and the movie, but [creator Adam Reed] did try to play up some of the major themes from the film, as it is one of his favorites (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid being his No. 1 favorite). Both movies have an unlikely duo being chased across the country by some shadowy figures. They each have to utilize multiple forms of transportation to reach their end goal. But most important, along the way, the individuals in each pair come to respect and like each other.
The Cross-Dressing Truck Driver
He was played by celebrity chef Kevin Gillespie. He was on Top Chef a couple of years back and is one of the best chef’s in Atlanta (where Archer headquarters are based). Some of the best meals of my life have been in his restaurants, and I wanted to repay the favor and put him in the show. Of course, it didn’t turn out to be that much of a “favor” when we put his head on the body of a transvestite rapist. To his credit, Kevin was incredibly game for it all, and we really had a great time at his photo shoot and voice recordings. It didn’t make it in the show, but he did this whole riff singing a Molly Hatchet song as he was driving the truck. It was pretty great, but we felt it went on too long for air. Kevin is about to open a new restaurant in Atlanta called GUNSHOW. If that does not say trucker chef, I don’t know what does.
You had to know that the biggest Cadillac dealer in the tristate area wasn’t actually named Ron Cadillac, right? In 1979, Ron Leibman, the voice of Ron Cadillac, won an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama for his work in the television series KAZ — a show that he also created and co-wrote! Ron played former car thief turned criminal attorney Martin “Kaz” Kazinsky. Both his characters being car thieves resonated with Adam, and thus, Ron “Cadillac” Kazinsky was born. (Well, it’s just Ron Cadillac now since he had it changed.) In real life, Ron is married to actress Jessica Walter, who provides the voice of Malory. We are very lucky to have them both on the show, and they are having great fun playing cartoon spouses.
*For the record, the best all-time Archer episode name was “The Man From Jupiter.” That was the Burt Reynolds episode from season three. Among the 10,001 things Burt is famous for, one is living in Jupiter, Florida.