The HBO series Barry, a black comedy series co-created and starring Bill Hader, received considerable accolades over its four-season run, particularly for series star Henry Winkler. Winkler spoke to Gold Derby about his role on the series and why he considers his success in acting a series of good luck.
While many would call Winkler’s performance on Barry masterful — and he won an Emmy for the role — he says that he would not have been able to play the character earlier in his career. He notes, “I could not have done this character years ago. I was not ready to play the levels that Bill and Alec [Berg, series co-creator] gave me as a gift from Heaven. And that is not hyperbole, that is just sheer looking down the barrel of the truth.”
“I am a typical actor. I am nervous all the time… I want to work and I have no idea where it’s going to come from.”
He explains what would’ve prevented him from pulling the role off. He says, “Experience, relaxation. It’s interesting. One of the very first things that I wrote in my notebook at school, at graduate school for acting was, the theater is my temple and I will keep it clean. And if my fellow actor doesn’t, I will clean it for them. And two, acting is relaxation, concentration, and listening. And what I said before about being who I thought I should be stops you from a crescendo of those three elements coming together.”
Though Winkler has had many successes over his decades as an actor, he still points out that so much of the success is based on luck. He says, “I am a typical actor. I am nervous all the time. I am a typical actor. I want to work and I have no idea where it’s going to come from. I sat at my desk at Paramount after Happy Days thinking, I have no idea what to do. Will I ever do anything as meaningful as this character in that genre? And then I had all this wonderful luck along the way and boom, I got the call. You’re on a short list. Would you go and meet Bill Hader, an HBO show called Barry? I don’t know, when you get it, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m a cog.”