Tony Hale Admits It’s ‘Daunting as Hell’ Watching College-Bound Daughter Loy ‘Forge Her Own Path’ (Exclusive)

“I'll be surprised if I don't rent the dorm room next to her," jokes Tony Hale, a soon-to-be "empty nester"

<p>Jerod Harris/Getty</p> Tony Hale on Jan. 15

Jerod Harris/Getty

Tony Hale on Jan. 15

Tony Hale, who voices Fear in Inside Out 2, is only partly joking when he says, “I've had a lot of experience” with the emotion.

Case in point: Hale’s 18-year-old daughter Loy Ann is graduating high school within days of the Disney and Pixar sequel’s June 14 release.

“She's going to create her own path and forge her own path,” the Emmy-winning Veep star, 53, tells PEOPLE exclusively of his college-bound daughter. “It's really beautiful and it's daunting as hell.”

Related: Tony Hale Says His Character in 'Archibald's Next Big Thing' Has 'Become My Role Model'

Hale shares Loy Ann with Martel Thompson, his wife since 2003. The last days of their daughter’s senior year, he says, means she’s “always just going, going, going. And we're the old folks that just want to sit around and watch Netflix.” 

The idea of an “empty nest” after their only child leaves, he adds, is “really surreal.” On the one hand, “You feel calm and settled because you know that she's having a great time,” says Hale. “We know that she's going to be taken care of… When she was young, if we were going out and she had a really good babysitter, you just had that, ‘She's taken care of’ [feeling].”

<p>Courtesy of Tony Hale</p> Loy Ann and Tony Hale in 2022

Courtesy of Tony Hale

Loy Ann and Tony Hale in 2022

On the other hand, however, there’s the fear. “This is not going to stop any of my anxiety,” states Hale. He laughs, adding, “I'll be surprised if I don't rent the dorm room next to her! But we're taking it day to day.”

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For Hale, parenting has been an ongoing “experiential process,” particularly when it comes to letting Loy Ann forge that unique path. “I have to stop my mind going to the ‘What if?’ or creating, ‘What could happen?’ and ‘How can I defend her from that?’ ” he shares.

“You just worry about her and just hope she's going to be okay. College is kind of escalated. It's even more charged because she is really going off and doing her own thing.” Hale’s work as a father, he says, is “to control those narratives in my head and give her that freedom.”

<p>Disney/Pixar</p> 'Inside Out 2'


'Inside Out 2'

It’s all too relevant to Inside Out 2, which finds Hale voicing Fear (replacing Bill Hader from the original film) alongside Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness and more. Jumping into the fray is the chaotic Anxiety, voiced by Maya Hawke.

“Fear is what you see and anxiety is what you can't see,” notes Hale. In the movie, Anxiety creates imaginary narratives designed to protect pre-teen Riley (Kensington Tallman) — much like he does with his daughter.

Related: Why Inside Out 2 Is Personal for Amy Poehler: ‘Anxiety Is a Motivator’ (Exclusive)

“This sounds so dark, but parenting sometimes is just heartbreak,” he says. “Because not only does your heart break when theirs breaks, if they're disappointed by something, if they don't get something. But then your heart breaks when they're going on their own path. You love them. And a part of that love is that heartbreak.”

Then, he quips, “I say all this and I'm going to be eating beside her every day of her college years, so I don't know why I'm even having this discussion! I'm going to get a meal card right alongside her.”

Inside Out 2 is in theaters June 14. Hale next appears in the Netflix comedy The Decameron

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