Bill Hader and Henry Winkler have already won Emmys for their work on “Barry” — and deservedly so — but if you had to pick one actor who embodies the show’s ability to shift tones seamlessly, freshly minted Emmy nominee Anthony Carrigan is the man.
Carrigan plays NoHo Hank, the stylish and joyful Chechen crime boss who’s sweet, needy and a little naive but also menacing and scary when the situation requires a certain gravity.
Carrigan stopped by The Times’ video studio recently to talk about “Barry’s” breakout character.
People die on “Barry.” Did Hader ever offer any assurances that NoHo Hank would make it through Season 2?
He would toy with us, you know, in a really cool and evil way. [Laughs] No, no. He was the best. I mean, he loved to kind of keep a tight lid on everything, so we were all so thirsty for details for the season. But you know, even if you were to be killed off in it, it’s just such a cool project to work on. So you know you’re going to go out in a really fantastic way.
You call NoHo Hank a “complicated sweetheart.” He can be menacing but also chill and fun. Like when he threatens Barry and then starts his car and there’s this boppy pop song playing …
That’s what “Barry” does so well. It creates an incredible moment and then just flips it on its head.
What music does NoHo Hank listen to while he’s tooling around L.A.?
Just as character inspiration, I listen to a lot of Huey Lewis and the News, just because it was very ‘80s kind of poppy, upbeat music. Some deep cuts from Christina Aguilera, Britney [Spears]. Justin Bieber, even.
Are the ‘80s a key pop culture period for NoHo Hank?
That’s how I saw it when I was developing the character. He certainly has this very specific depiction of what America is and what going to America means. In my mind, I envisioned it as little NoHo Hank, with probably about 15 VHS tapes, just watching them over and over and over again. And they’re all ‘80s action movies or ‘80s buddy rom-coms. I like the idea that he bases all of his perception of Los Angeles on that.
But he has lived here long enough to have some good advice for Barry about living in L.A.: Stay off the 405.
[Laughs] The 405 is just always dreadful, so sage words.
And NoHo Hank really seems to enjoy the city. Where do you think he shops?
He goes to all of the malls. Like, he’s no stranger to the Glendale Galleria. He knows the Grove like the back of his hand. I’m sure he’s just at every farmers market.
Hader says that when people stop him to talk about “Barry,” they usually caution him: Don’t kill NoHo Hank. What do you get from people who see you?
I mean, just such joy. It’s really wonderful. Hank is people’s good pal. So I love that. I was in New York recently and was walking out of my hotel. And just in true New York fashion, this big New York dude leaned outside of his window and he just screams [Carrigan adopts a Noo Yawk accent], “Hey, NoHo Hank, how you doing? Love what you doing!” It was great.
Maybe what people are responding to, too, is his neediness. He just wants Barry to be his friend.
Yes. He wants to be friends with people. He wants community and comrades. It’s more the camaraderie than the actual nitty-gritty of it, you know?
Do you enjoy trying to make Bill Hader break on set?
Yes I do. That is a solid yes. It’s just such a fun environment when we’re shooting. And yeah, it’s just a wonderful, wonderful challenge to make that guy break. We’re constantly messing with each other. There was this one scene that we did, in the car at the beginning of Episode 2, when Hank is giving him a rundown of the stash house. And we just couldn’t keep it together, either of us. Because we just kept on riffing and changing it and throwing each other curve balls. And that’s what’s cool — those fun, spontaneous moments. He’s always game, and we have a blast.
That feeling comes across watching “Barry.”
A lot of people complain about when people are about to laugh. But I feel like that moment, that tiny moment where someone is about to break, it’s such a beautiful moment. I start to just crack up immediately when I see someone is about to do that.