Sometimes, an actor makes a character so wholly theirs, they become indistinguishable from each other. Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, and Jessica Walter’s Malory Archer from the FX adult-animated show Archer. When an actor dies, however, questions arise of how, or if, to continue.
Jessica Walter’s Malory Archer, a career still strong as ever
It takes a special actor to be known by multiple generations. When a grandparent mentions an actor from their day, and the grandchild knows exactly who it is, that kind of talent goes beyond just star power.
Walter’s career began in 1958 on stage, before breaking into film and television in the 60s. She starred in dozens of shows and films, from Hawaii Five-O to The Love Boat. She even starred in a 1978 Dr. Strange television film as the villainous Morgan le Fay.
And when most people reach their 60’s, they start slowing down.
Taking the role of Arrested Development’s Lucille Bluth in 2003, she would begin her role as Malory Archer six years later.
Bringing a level of scathing criticism and exhausted irritation, Jessica Walter’s Malory Archer was an invaluable ingredient in the show’s success.
How to go forward without Jessica Walter’s Malory Archer
Unfortunately, Walter died in March 2021, leaving the character’s fate uncertain. Deadline reported that Eric Schrier, President of FX Entertainment, spoke on the matter.
“That was a very close-knit group, so losing Jessica was a big loss, but I think creatively, they are trying to figure out a way to proceed forward,” he said.
FX Networks Chairman John Landgraf also spoke with Deadline, saying that Jessica Walter’s Malory Archer was “irreplaceable.”
“Can the show continue? I think that’s a creative question they are working on,” he said. “I’m optimistic the answer will be yes.”
‘Archer’ season 12, season 13, and beyond
After three seasons (three years in-universe) of Sterling Archer finding himself trapped in various coma-induced hallucinations, he finally awoke in his hospital bed. Though Jessica Walter’s Malory Archer and her son often aggressively butted heads in the show, it was a touching moment.
It was revealed that Malory had stayed by her son’s bedside for the past three years.
With Archer recovering and getting back to spy work and recovering, his coworkers grappled with the fact that they used Archer as an excuse to live as their worst selves. An interesting trajectory for the whole main cast, the show’s return will no doubt have many surprises in store for Malory Archer and the rest of the cast.
Beyond season 12, the cast and crew will decide whether or not Malory’s voice will be recast or written out of the show, as happened with Archer’s butler Woodhouse when George Coe died.
Either way, Walter gave Archer a fantastic character that fans of many generations will remember fondly.