Bill Hader on ‘Barry’: “When you push the comedy it starts to feel like you’re reaching for something that might not be there”

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Actor Bill Hader

Barry is not at all a descriptive title for a television show, so nobody would fault you if you weren’t aware of what Bill Hader‘s new HBO show is about. However, the series springs from such an off-the-wall idea — Hader plays a hitman who decides to give up the world of assassination to become an actor — that perhaps a more descriptive title would’ve been impossible to come up with. It’s also a challenge for Hader, who has won raves for his obvious comedy skills and his not-as-apparent dramatic skills (especially in the 2014 film The Skeleton Twins), to portray an amateur actor. Hader spoke about how he developed Barry’s newbie acting technique in an interview with Cavalier Daily.

Regarding how he approached his character’s performance skills (or lack thereof), Hader says:

“I watched a lot of true crime shows, because the reenactments on true crime shows are pretty bad, so that was helpful. But mostly it’s just thinking about what the reality of that would be and not thinking too much about the comedy, and it kind of works. When you push the comedy it starts to feel like you’re reaching for something that might not be there. So if you just have him read his lines — like I think for Barry, acting to him is when you would go around class in junior high and read out paragraphs of To Kill a Mockingbird, like that’s acting to him, just a speech class. You try to play the reality of it.”

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