Tony Hale on Playing Beyoncé’s ‘Emasculated Sidekick’ in Verizon’s Super Bowl Commercial and Hiding the Role From His Daughter (2024)

Beyoncé sent her fans a shocker on Super Bowl Sunday, using a Verizon ad to announce “Renaissance Act II” and drop two brand-new country songs. But members of the BeyHive with a penchant for half-hour comedies got a two-for-one deal, as the pop star appeared in the commercial opposite an unexpected partner: “Veep” and “Arrested Development” star Tony Hale.

Hale has spent years of his career playing awkward, offbeat beta males overshadowed by powerful women: “It’s a forte of mine,” he says, reflecting on what his newest collaborator may have in common with Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter, “Arrested Development”) and Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”). He felt at home at Yoncé’s side, though, he isn’t totally sure how much she knew about him in return. “We really didn’t have much time to chat,” he laughs. “I didn’t ask her, ‘Have you seen my work?'”

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Verizon first started hinting about a Beyoncé ad in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. In one teaser, Hale works hard at a lemonade stand, saying, “Hold up — she wants me to squeeze all these lemons by myself?” in reference to Beyonce‘s 2016 album “Lemonade” and the song “Hold Up.” In another, he gets chatty with ReNeigh, the giant crystal horse featured in 2023’s Renaissance World Tour.

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Then on Sunday night, viewers got to watch Hale try to keep up with Beyoncé’s relentless attempts to “break” Verizon’s 5G network — unveiling a Beyoncé robot, a Beyoncé concert in space, Beyoncé’s Twitch account and more — before resolving to give the people what they want. “Okay, they ready. Drop the new music,” she says at the end of the commercial, at which point “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages” were released onto streaming services.

Hale spoke to Variety exclusively about being there for Beyoncé’s big moment.

I can’t say you and Beyoncé are a pairing I’ve imagined before, but I’m obsessed.

We’re the obvious pair!

I see that now.

I love the contrast of, like, just the most powerful icon, and then … me! The guy who typically plays emasculated sidekicks!

How did this come together?

It happened pretty quick. I got the call from my agent, like, “There’s this possibility to do a Super Bowl ad.” I was like, “That’s great.” And then they said it was Beyoncé, and I was like, “What?” My daughter had gone to her concert and was telling me all about it. I didn’t go, but she and I had just seen the “Renaissance” film. I’m obviously a fan. The whole thing was incredibly cool and exciting.

The hard part was that I couldn’t tell my daughter. My wife is a makeup artist, so she worked with me on the commercial, and for the three weeks after we couldn’t mention it. We were like, “This is killing us.” She had asked, “What are you guys doing?” I said, “Oh, we’re just shooting this industrial for a tech company.” She didn’t think twice about it.

When did you finally tell her?

They sent out these teasers throughout the week. I get this text. She goes, “Dad?” I was like, “Yes?” She says, “I’m with my friend, Lola, and we’re breaking this down, and … Dad?” She coded it. She’s a big Taylor Swift fan, too, and it’s all about hints and coding. She picked up on the lemons and me saying “hold up” in the beginning of the teaser. I kind of didn’t want her to see the teaser, because I wanted to tape her when she was watching the Super Bowl, but these teenagers are just too smart.

But I had one friend [who saw the lemon teaser] and said, “Is it Martha Stewart?” I’m like, “Dude, you are way off.”

How was it meeting Beyoncé on set? What did you talk about?

She’s just the kindest person. Obviously, she’s incredibly talented, but she could not be more down to earth. That’s what’s cool about this business: When you you do meet these icons, you see the humanity. She’s very normal and sweet.

We shot so much in a day. She had seven or nine costume changes — from a Barbie outfit to the presidential outfit — she was so busy. I was just in the same outfit, sitting around eating craft services. But in the time I did get with her, she just could not be kinder.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Tony Hale on Playing Beyoncé’s ‘Emasculated Sidekick’ in Verizon’s Super Bowl Commercial and Hiding the Role From His Daughter (2024)


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