Anthony Carrigan spoke with Awards Daily TV on the rising popularity of NoHo Hank, his character’s lovingly flamboyant persona, and the contradictions of a character desperately longing friendship and love in a world of organized crime.
Hank has quickly become a fan favorite of the show. What has your reaction been to the immensely positive reactions from fans?
I mean, it’s wonderful. One of the coolest things is that a lot of time when people come up to me on the street they light up when they’re talking about Hank. So it’s really cool to kind of bring something to the table when it comes to my performance. I really like bringing joy to them and the fact that it’s through Chechen mobster is kind of hilarious. But you know what, whatever gets it done I guess!
Now in the second season, Barry has become one of the most buzzed about shows of the year from both audiences and critics. Why do you think the show is taking off right now and what is it like as an actor to be a part of that?
I think it’s a testament to the creators, Bill Hader and Alec Berg. The first season was incredibly good and people were preemptively trying to shut down any talk of a second season because they felt like the first season was enough. But what’s so cool is that Berg and Hader just went even deeper this season. They challenged themselves even more to create a compelling storyline and what’s cool is the seeds that they’ve planted in the first season started to shape and grow in the second season. It’s always tough to follow-up a good second season with a great second one but it’s a testament to the creators and their strong, incredible vision.
Going back to Berg and Hader’s pilot script, what was your initial reaction the first time you read it? When did you know Hank was a character you needed to play?
Immediately when I read the pilot I had a feeling I knew exactly who Hank was. Everything on the page was this great fleshed out role. But there was also a lot to it that I wanted to bring to the table. It was a lot of fun being able to develop Hank alongside Bill and Alec while we jammed and improvised and played around – a total dream.
From his flamboyant mannerism and upbeat personality, Hank is incredibly unique not only to the world of the show and fresh to the crime genre. How did you go about developing all of his characterizations?
Hank was written as an extremely polite, considerate and well-meaning gangster. So from the very beginning, there was an opposite within him that was just really, really refreshing to play. As I was playing around with him on set a certain flamboyance began to kind of naturally rise out of him and from there this people pleasing attitude combined with an optimistic nature began to surface.
Personally, I found some of his most endearing and most interesting traits to be his unusual motivations. He doesn’t seem to be driven by greed or power. What seems to be influencing Hank and why do you think that is?
It’s not completely apparent at the start of the series that that is who Hank is. It’s unveiled as the story progresses that he is trying his hardest as a mob boss but ultimately he just wants people to like him and he wants to have bros. He wants love. That sets up the conflict because desiring these things and succeeding as a mob boss does not go hand in hand.
Season two is especially about what people are trying to be versus their true nature. For Hank, he is trying to be this alpha male in a position of power but his true nature is one of exuberance, thoughtfulness, and consideration. I think it’s a beautiful theme for everyone that their true nature is getting them in a lot of trouble.
The season ends with an incredibly wild shootout scene in a Buddhist temple. What was it like to film?
It was a cool experience. Bill was directing. We were in this fantastic space with all of these super hardened thugs and we started it all off by having a good time at a party. As soon as Barry comes in he’s just ready to massacre everyone in sight forcing the tone to shift very quickly. And that’s one of my favorite parts about that episode, just how dark Barry gets. There’s a really haunting moment after he’s just blowing people away and he descends into a dark hallway. As the light bulb flickers out, and he’s literally moving into darkness. It gave me chills.
Do you have a favorite scene from the second season?
I had a really great time in the first episode when Hank confronts Barry outside of the acting studio. I really appreciate it because up until that moment Hank had been pretty easygoing. Audiences had yet to see that side of him. But it was really refreshing to kind of play with this more threatening tone. This side of Hank was obviously coming from a wounded place having been hurt by being called an idiot by Barry. Hiro Murai was shooting it and anything he does I am completely on board with. I loved it. I thought it was beautifully written and it was just a very human moment while also terrifying.
What has it been like working with Bill Hader especially as he takes on so many different roles in a single episode from acting to directing to writing to producing?
Bill is the man. I mean, he’s such a lovely guy. He’s such a normal dude that it’s easy to forget that he’s an absolute genius. On Barry he wears so many different hats and you’re not even aware of when he’s taken one off and putting another on because he just does just so seamlessly. I mean, as a director, as a writer, as an actor. He’s always so present, so considerate, so masterful. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of and to witness.
Is there anything you hope audiences take away from Hank and the show as a whole?
Overall I just hope that audiences laugh a lot. That’s the ideal because at the end of the day Barry is a comedy. But at the same time, I hope they are moved by a character that is deeply human. Someone who means well but is incredibly flawed.
Speaking of comedy and the tone of the show, it’s caused a lot of debate on the internet. In this new age of comedy, Barry is a show that changes tones so quickly from broad comedy to these dark portrayals of PTSD and murder. What were your reactions to the tone of the show and the direction it is pushing comedy?
You can’t really pin it down and that’s awesome. In this day and age, we are so used to formulaic storylines and an amalgamation of one thing. Barry is unique in that way and it does this amazing tightrope walk between being incredibly funny, but also really jarring, leaving people feeling pretty fucked up by the end of it. So if you can have that effect on both sides, making them laugh hysterically while also terrifying them, it leaves them thinking about the episodes for long after. I mean, that’s winning.
Anthony Carrigan is currently in consideration for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series leading up to the 2019 nominations. ‘Barry’ is currently available on HBO.