Bill Hader, the multihyphenate star of Barry — who has won two Emmys for his lead role and this year received a third nomination and nods for writing and directing the series — won’t confirm whether he’s funny report. Well, the show is divided as such, and its Emmy-nominated co-showrunners Anthony Carrigan and Henry Winkler deliver entertaining performances as Chechen mobster NoHo Hank and laundry master. Gene Cousineau. But the show follows the eponymous hitman as he balances a life of crime with his hopes of making it in Hollywood (and living a normal life with his girlfriend Sally, played by Sarah Goldberg , i.e. dreams of stardom), have been achieved. balanced dark themes with equal dark humor. For Hader, the story comes first — the jokes, second. By talking with THRHader talks about the fun of making a show that goes against the grain, how comedy comes from making fun of its own seriousness and Barryliterary influences.
This session has been postponed due to COVID-19. Did that give you more time to fully commit to season three?
For sure. A great blessing. I think if we shot the originals, it would be a very different season.
I didn’t feel like it was too close to the subject. Overall, the thematic tone and everything about healing and what needs to be forgiven – that’s what we really focused on when we were rewriting it.
This season is darker than the first two seasons. Was it a tonal shift that you had in mind from the beginning, or was it something you realized while you were working on the session?
It’s been like that since the beginning, especially after the end of the second season. You don’t want to decide when you’re telling a story about your character, where you go, “Here’s what the characters do, but it’s funny so it’s funny.” .” I really wanted to stay true to the fruits.
That binary, drama or comedy, is not left for a similar show. Barry.
It’s a commodity. If you’re looking for a streaming site, there are many different types out there. I’m going to sound like an old-fashioned person, but it’s like going to a video store — those types of marketing help people decide: “What do you have now?” You don’t get to go to a movie theater; you have a horror movie next to a thriller, a sci-fi movie next to a documentary. “Barry it’s not a joke anymore” is something I hear a lot, but to me, it’s telling the story straight. HBO allowed us to do that, which I really appreciate.
Is there a part of you that wants to play with the expectations the audience has for this show? The dark humor is there, but is it more fun to play around with group voices?
Sometimes you have a process that you write as a straight drama or a straight process. The fun comes from going back a couple of times and thinking, “What if this happened?” It’s like sitting and watching something with your friends, talking and laughing. Mystery Science Drama or something. But we write those things in. Another example is the car chase in episode six. There was a time when someone handed a giant machine gun to a man on a motorcycle. At first, the man took it and started to shoot. It’s a huge piece of work. When that moment came, I think I laughed: “There’s no way he could make that shot!” (Smile.) [In the final cut, the motorcyclist clumsily drops the gun and veers into a car.] You need to get out of there and then you can say how lame your first thought is.
I love that kind of work – the laugh comes from the absurdity of the truth you’ve created.
The same thing happened in a scene between Barry and Sally. His show was canceled, and he wanted to scare his boss. What can he do to help her? He’s an assassin, an ex-Marine, so he’s like, “I can let him go.” In the beginning it was written straight and kind of scary at times [for Sally]. When we were training, Duffy Boudreau, one of the writers, was like, “You want to try this, like, really cool?” I fixed some, and we changed some things, but [the same dialogue] there, it means the house. You get it on paper and you’re like, “This is great,” and then you get sick and start laughing at your own work.
I read that Flannery O’Connor is a powerhouse this season. Are there any books or movies that have influenced your writing?
Flannery O’Connor [short story] A Good Man Is Hard To Find – people say the line all the time: “She’s a good woman if someone holds a gun to her head every day.” It’s something we can all say. At the time of death, you can be your best self, right? We used that in a scene in episode five, when Cousineau said, “I’ve made a lot of changes. … Somebody has to put a gun to your head to see what’s important.” life. Liz Sarnoff, one of the authors, spoke at that time in the room. But during the illness, I re-read some of O’Connor’s stories and was deeply moved by them. His voice is specific, and even though some of the stories are similar, it doesn’t matter. There’s something real about his voice – it’s real and honest. There’s a lot in Russian literature, in Chekhov and Tolstoy. : it’s kind of low. I think it’s a scene in there Anna Karenina where she returns home after making love to Vronsky; she sees her husband and has a long speech about how bad his ears are. It can be addictive because when you’re sick of someone, suddenly every little thing about them rubs off on you. Tobias Wolff and George Saunders do the same thing: They can make most people laugh. That’s where I want to be as an artist.
As O’Connor once wrote about people on the South Side, Barry he captures what it’s like to live in Los Angeles – not only in terms of representing the entertainment industry but also the other cultural corners of the city and its space. What interests you about Los Angeles as a writer?
I’ve been here since 1999 and I’ve been in the business a lot, working as a PA until now, an actor now writing and directing. As with any business you do for a while, you just find things that make you melt. (Smile.) You can’t have that kind of humor without loving the place and having it. [experienced] one of them is yourself.
As Sally and Barry slowly find more success in their careers, will it open up new ways to make fun of the entertainment industry?
Yes. You can take an innocent person and then look at them [discover] the man behind the curtain. I’ve seen this happen with a lot of friends: You come here really interested in movies and television and music, and then you get into it. You learn the business, then you [become jaded]. Maybe that’s why I watch old movies or foreign movies, and I’m humble. It’s like in film school, everyone is showing their movies – that’s what it’s like to be in Hollywood. “Okay, this is done, I have to text them!” (Smile.) That’s fun, not bad, but it takes you outside when you watch a movie. It’s good to just watch TCM because, for the most part, all those people are dead.
The interview is edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the exclusive August issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.