HBO’s “Barry” is dubbed as a dark comedy, but over the seasons, the series has been increasingly dark and less on the comedy. Still, the first 3 seasons have managed to snap 9 Emmys (from its 44 nominations). Just when you thought the story about hitman has reached its most conclusive ending, “Barry” surprises us in the best way possible.
With season 4 currently underway, viewers will get to see the powerful, complex and hilarious conclusion to Barry Berkman’s story. In this interview, Bill Hader talks about Barry and Fuches’ relationship, teases the mid season, as well as what he hopes audiences will gain from watching all 4 seasons.
Q: Where is your character Barry’s head space at the start of the season?
Bill Hader: He was caught at the end of season three, and so now he’s a bit of a caged animal. He doesn’t know how to handle all of this. He’s also in a bit of denial that Cousineau turned him in. With the exception of Cousineau who’s feeling pretty great about himself, everyone else seems to be in a weird hell.
Q: There’s a kind of pivot to Barry and Fuches relationship in jail that threw me a little.
Bill Hader: Fuches has always wanted an apology from Barry. They had that one phone call last season where Fuches gives a half-assed apology and then he’s saying, “I’ve apologised, Barry, is there anything you want to say to me? Maybe sorry for shooting at you and all these things?” Barry refuses and it isn’t until Barry’s in prison and Sally’s told him “I don’t love you. F*ck off.” Cousineau has said, “I got you.” And he realises the two beacons in the world of happiness and acting have rejected him, that Barry comes back to Fuches. That’s when you go home and the people you’ve been rude to or people you’ve slapped off, you say, “Oh, I love you.” Fuches has been awful to Barry, but I think Fuches does love him like a son. When Barry says, “I’m sorry to you,” that takes Fuches off guard and he doesn’t know how to handle that. That’s all he wanted to hear. Which is I feel like a very human thing. Just say you were wrong, and we can move on.
Q: The beautiful thing about the show is that they have exact the same arguments as you do within a family, but the trail of bodies that those arguments produce…
Bill Hader: Yeah, the carnage that follows… it’s true.
Q: There’s also Barry’s PTSD visions in prison. I mean, it’s beautifully done, but also Sally’s coming into it more and there’s… why is that collection of images coming to him?
Bill Hader: I think the image of him seeing the acting class on the prison yard, was seeing the freedom that he lost. We are trying to recreate season one there, that acting class, and then just as Barry tries to go into the room Fuches comes out, this little turd of a guy. It’s nice to have images that tell you what’s going on instead of having him say, “Fuches, I tried the acting class and it never worked out and I wish it didn’t.” There’s more abstract visuals later, seeing him as a kid when he first met Fuches. I can’t really tell you where they all came from. They just made sense when I was writing.
Q: Did you always anticipate this arc when you set out at the beginning?
Bill Hader: No, it changed a bit. Initially, there was some broader turns in it, and then it became much more grounded. By the end of season two, I knew, “Oh, we can’t really go back to the acting class again.” Sally has to have a win, and then let’s watch that fall apart. Without giving spoilers away, what happens structurally in the middle of season four, I did not see it coming, but that was just the best way to show how the rest of the cast has Barry’s disease. They’re all performing, in a way. We all perform and put on a different face at work, at home and all this stuff. Can you be honest and drop the façade or are you better off keeping it up?
Q: There’re a lot of people online saying Barry’s about redemption, Barry is a satire, Barry is a drama… what were you setting out to do and do you think you’ve done it?
Bill Hader: It started out as just a funny idea, but then as you go on, you go deeper with the characters. The two TV shows that really influenced Barry, were “Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad”. “Sopranos” in the way that they could go interior with a character, and then “Breaking Bad” with just the sheer propulsion of the narrative where so much of television, I felt like nothing really happened for a long time. Without sounding pretentious, it was more trying to write a big four-part book. My hope is that someone can watch pilot to the finale and feel you’ve been told one complete story that has emotional depth and truth but told a really exciting entertaining story.
What was it like coming to the end and wrapping?
It was bittersweet. I directed all the episodes of the season, so I was exhausted. We did seasons three and four back-to-back. I was really tired and looking forward to it being done. But then I love the cast and crew. I really love them all. It was hard to say goodbye to everybody. Each day it was someone’s last day. It was tough.
What do you want people to take away from the show?
I like it when people can understand the deeper meaning – that all these people are very fallible, but hopefully fallible in a way that is on some level recognisable. Not that everybody’s going to shoot somebody, but Barry’s idea of can you change your nature… I was very interested in that. It was a question that we posed in the writer’s room. Can all these characters change who they are and is that possible? That’s the way it’s an interesting thing, I think. I like the way we’ve handled violence in the show. I think it’s very easy to make a show like this and make the violence very glib and funny. Hopefully even when the violence is shocking and weird, the depth of it’s still there. I don’t think anything positive comes from killing anybody. It doesn’t make anybody feel better or happy. It destroys their soul. Especially what happened with Sally at the end of last season and how she’s dealing with it this season and everything. Those are the things I am proud of because to be exploring those ideas in a 30-minute comedy show, I think is interesting.
Catch new episodes of “Barry” every Monday on HBO and HBO GO.
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