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Bill Hader and his dark comedy “Barry” have again raked in a slew of Emmy nominations. In this episode of “The Envelope” podcast, Hader dishes on what it’s like to simultaneously star in, write for, direct and executive produce a high-profile TV series of his own creation. (While doing some high-emotion acting, he recalls, “I kind of induced a panic attack — which I do not recommend if you’re also directing.”) He also delves into how he transitioned from performing on “Saturday Night Live” to what he calls “real acting,” how it feels to shut down a freeway and why he laughs at the darkest moments.
Mark Olsen: Welcome to this week’s episode of “The Envelope.” Yvonne, it’s great to talk to you, as always.
Yvonne Villarreal: Same, Mark! You know we took a little bit of a break, but I’m really glad to be back because we’re deep into the Emmys season now — nominations were recently announced, and we have lined up an impressive roster of nominees for our next few episodes. Why don’t you tell us who you have for us this week?
Olsen: I talked to Bill Hader, a multiple Emmy nominee this year for “Barry,” a show on which he is — and I have to take a deep breath before I say all this — actor, director, writer, co-creator and executive producer. And the show really just feels like such a remarkable expression from him, this dark comedy about a hitman who wants to become an actor and how those worlds collide.
Villarreal: Yeah, it’s been really interesting to see where he’s taken this dark comedy, especially this season. You know a moment that stands out for me is that motorcycle chase scene in “710N.”
Olsen: I go down that off-ramp sometimes, and it is terrifying now.
Villarreal: Yeah, like my blood pressure, like if I had taken it after watching that scene it would have been off the charts. But even the way the characters have all gotten sort of so much more emotionally complex, especially the character of Barry. The depths of his psychological damage that they explored this season, it’s so amazing to see. I don’t know that this is what people would have expected from him coming out of “SNL” and doing characters like Stefon or all those impressions. It’s been really fun and interesting to see where he’s taken this character and this show.
Olsen: But one of the things I was so surprised by in talking to him is when we were talking about the darkest and most disturbing things on the show is when he laughed hardest while we were talking. And he somehow wears this all really lightly. He’s perfectly pleasant, a delightful person to talk to, and he’s making a show about these extremely damaged and troubled people.
Villarreal: God, what I would give to just spend an hour talking about all our traumas with Bill. But maybe you had a more lighthearted conversation. Let’s get into it right now.
Olsen: Bill, thanks for joining us.
Bill Hader: Oh, thanks for having me.
Olsen: Congratulations on all the Emmy nominations for the third season of the show. I’d imagine it must be particularly exciting for the show to have gotten so many craft and behind-the-scenes nominations. I mean, a comedy series being nominated for its stuntwork feels kind of unusual.
Hader: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. I was really happy about that. Wade Allen’s our stunt coordinator. He and his whole team did just an amazing job.
Olsen: This season, it just felt so rich in the way that it explored all the different characters. And even the style of the show seemed to develop. I’m wondering for you, what’s different about playing Barry in season three, versus when you were playing him when the show began in season one?
Hader: Well, I mean, in this season, his back was against the wall a little bit more. In the first episode he finds out that Gene Cousineau knows who he is, so he’s kind of scrambling, you know? I mean, to put it mildly, more on edge.
[Clip from “Barry”: GENE: Oh, just let me go, Barry. I’m not going to tell anybody! BARRY: What, you wouldn’t go to the cops? GENE: Of course not! BARRY: You’re a bad actor, Mr. Cousineau. GENE: So you’re going to hold me hostage until you book me a part? That’s not the way it works. We’re talking about me, here. That could take years!]
Olsen: I know that you’re a big movie fan and I just, I keep thinking to myself, if this was a movie, you’d never quite get to this point with these characters. It really is only the fact that we’ve spent so much time with them over three seasons now that we can know them as well as we do.
Hader: Yeah. It’s, I mean, I watch some TV, but I — to be honest, I don’t watch a whole lot of television. It’s mostly from reading books and kind of having that character depth and following someone for a period of time. And to me, every season was always just kind of one big four-hour movie and trying to keep it about our main characters, what the main characters are going through. Not deviating too much and yeah, you know, each season in the writing, kind of forcing ourselves to go down interesting paths, and you’re wrong a lot. You go down one area and it doesn’t work, you know, or you try to do something else and it doesn’t work, but you have to kind of test it and make it complicated. And what ends up happening is when you consciously try to make it complicated, it smothers it, and it becomes something that doesn’t feel real. I’m finding, when you kind of add in emotions that you’ve felt or one of the other writers have felt or one of the actors have felt, that then is the the engine to the thing,
Olsen: And then when you go into each new season, like going into this most recent season, do you have movies or books that you’re using as source material? Is there sort of like a syllabus to go with each season of the show?
Hader: Not consciously, no. Sometimes I’ll watch a thing to kind of say, “It has this feeling to it.” But never consciously going in. It’s funny. It’s usually when we’re done and we’re mixing it, which is the last stage of the process, and I’m on the mixing stage watching the episode, that it’ll hit me, you know, “Man, I like ‘Taxi Driver.’” You know, it’s like, your influences are just so obvious to me. Or “Man, I like the Coen brothers.” It’s just, like, “Oh, brother.”
Olsen: And was there anything that jumped out at you when you were mixing season three?
Hader: I love watching old movies and, like, old Italian movies. The way that they block things, you know, in wider angle. And it’s roughly the same aspect ratio that we shoot in. They’ll have someone in the foreground, middle ground, background. It’s all very full and very alive. And it’s just a lot going on in the frame. Those DPs, I think, and those filmmakers were very much inspired by painting. So the frame is really well balanced. I really respond to that. And then of course you, I would talk to Carl Herse, the DP, and he’s like, “You know, the Coen brothers love early Italian movies.” And I’m like, “OK. It always comes back to the Coen brothers.” We’re just ripping them off, you know? And just, yeah, you think, “Oh, no, I have this really kind of more interesting, kind of, you know, thing,” and it’s like, “No, you like the Coen brothers.”
Olsen: And now, even just back to the very beginning of the series, it opened with Barry having just killed someone and it sort of sets him on this journey to try to change and become a better person. And throughout the season, and especially this season, that theme of forgiveness and redemption just keeps coming back. Do you think redemption’s even possible for Barry at this point?
Hader: Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t think so, but we’re working on season four right now and we start shooting that in two weeks and I’m writing the back half of the episodes right now with Duffy Boudreau and Liz Sarnoff, and we’re still kind of going like, “Yeah, maybe, I don’t know.” He’s trying to figure himself out.
Olsen: And is it ever strange for you to see how people respond to the character of Barry? I mean, he’s this guy that— I guess in some ways I want to ask the question: Do you think that he’s a good person who makes bad choices or is he just an essentially bad person?
Hader: I don’t know. I go back and forth on it. I do think that he’s made a ton of bad choices and that this season, because he’s in a corner, he lashes out more. And I think he’s someone who tries to be a good guy, but like a lot of us when he’s under a lot of pressure, he lashes out. But I think the thing I realized with Barry more in season three was how self-centered he was. He says everything’s for Cousineau and Sally and he cares about people, but— on some level he does, but on another level, he’s really about himself. Because if he really cared about those people, he would leave them alone or turn himself in, but he’s not gonna sacrifice himself.
Olsen: A lot of times you’re putting the viewer in this uncomfortable position of, “Am I supposed to like this guy? How am I supposed to be?” I find for myself, I never quite know how to feel about him when I’m watching the show.
Hader: Yeah. I don’t know. I like that about it. There’s something very, kind of, human about it. And also just trying to portray him as honestly as possible. And I think by virtue of that it kind of is this roller coaster where you go, “Well, what would he do right now?” And sometimes what he would do is, he does a job to give Cousineau’s son money so he can help him out. And he says, “I’m gonna leave you alone.” And it’s like, oh, that’s nice. But then there’s a lot of other s— he does that’s pretty f—ing terrible, you know? There’s no big plan with him, which is what’s interesting. We’re always kind of taking it scene by scene and going, “Well, what would he do here?”
In the writing, there’s always kind of an end goal for the season. First day writing, I pitched, “He gets caught. Cousineau knows in the first episode, and in the last episode he’s caught.” We were writing toward that, but at any moment, something will happen that we go, “Oh, maybe that doesn’t make sense anymore,” and you go another way. So it’s kind of trial and error. So it’s interesting hearing everybody talk about it because the truth is I don’t, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on with him most of the time.
Olsen: But it seems like if anybody should understand that character, it would be you.
Hader: It should be me. Yeah. Yeah.
Olsen: What is it about him that makes him such a mystery?
Hader: You know, there’s a scene in the movie — in the show — in episode five when he sits down and he tries to connect with Sally by telling her all the things he can do to her boss.
[Clip from the show “Barry”: SALLY: So you’d break into her house? BARRY: Oh, she’d never know I was there. The whole point is to isolate her and make her feel like she’s going insane. So I would just do little things like replace her dog with a slightly different dog, or change the furniture in her house so she thinks she’s shrinking. You know, basic stuff. Most of it I learned in the military, some of it on a subreddit.]
Hader: It’s a funny scene, but it’s a scene that — as the writer, I found it funny. But then as the actor, I was like, “Why the hell is he saying this to her?” And then you just go with it. It was really funny, but I’m like, “God, he’s so dumb.” There’s just moments where I’m like, “Well, he’s so stupid.” But there’s a sweetness to him. I don’t know. It’s complicated. But to me, what’s fun about this process is discovering. But I like to be prepared.
But the acting’s the one thing I probably think about the least. I don’t think about it, even how to play a thing. There’s a scene where Barry gets mad at Sally at work that’s really disturbing. We wrote it that, it just, you know, Barry blows up at her and says, “If I don’t do this, I don’t live.” And we did Sarah’s side first and I did it. And then when they came around on me for some first take, I just did what you saw. I started hitting myself. I just go crazy.
[Clip from “Barry”: SALLY: … which is why I tried to get him on my show. We’re saying the same thing. BARRY: [screams] We are not saying the same thing! We are not saying the same thing. If I don’t do this, I don’t live! I have to do this to f—ing live!]
Hader: I didn’t really think about, you know, it wasn’t like I woke up or was in rehearsals saying, “This is how I’m gonna play it.” It just happens. In “308,” when the guy has a gun on— when Barry’s out at the tree with Albert, just, one of the takes he screams at me and I cover my head and I just let out this weird scream. I kind of induced a panic attack — which I do not recommend if you’re also directing. So yeah, when I’m doing this show, it’s like writing and directing tend to be the things that I’m constantly focused on. That’s 98% of my brain is filled up with that stuff. And then it’s like, I get on my mark and then go, “OK, what are my lines?”
Olsen: I know this season, I feel like Barry’s time as a Marine played into the story a lot more than it had in some of the other seasons. And I’m wondering, did you do research into PTSD or — how real is the depiction of what Barry is going through and his very real mental health challenges?
Hader: Before we did the pilot, I watched the movie “Restrepo.” I thought that was really great. I talked to one vet on the phone and I emailed with another one. But, no, I didn’t go and hang with anybody who had PTSD or go talk to anybody. You know, you’re writing the story and then when his mental state, you write a scene and then go, “Well, maybe, from where he’s at and where he’s come from, maybe he would react like this.” And then, the satisfying thing is I’ve had vets tell me that they really appreciated the show.
Olsen: Because this season also, it’s not just Barry’s trauma that’s being explored, but really Sally and Gene as well. Was there sort of a conscious decision early in the season that their individual traumas were going to lead so much of the storytelling?
Hader: Yeah, I think there’s a thing that happens while we’re writing where everybody’s stories start kind of mirroring each other. And then all the characters are kind of in this delusional place, which is interesting. There’s a fork in the road, and one way clearly leads to happiness and the other way clearly doesn’t, and they tend to go the way that doesn’t. Which I think is a very human thing. So Sally’s storyline with her getting her own show, I thought it was interesting for someone to have a win, you know? For someone to have something that worked. And that they’re good at their job. They have to deal with, you know, notes and things like that. But it was Sally telling her story in an honest way and doing it correctly and it being well received.
[Clip from “Barry”: NATALIE: Look at your friggin face, it’s huge! That face is being seen everywhere this morning! And you’re still at 98% on Rotty T’s. SALLY: This is insane. NATALIE: It’s all happening!]
Hader: And then through no fault of her own, it goes away,
[Clip from “Barry”: DIANE: We are canceling the show. SALLY: What? LINDSEY: Why? DIANE: Well, the algorithm felt it wasn’t hitting the right taste clusters. SALLY: Taste clusters? It’s been 12 hours!]
Olsen: And then, as you mentioned, a big part of this season for Sally and also for Barry has to do with— there’s a lot of inside jokes about how television shows get made in contemporary Hollywood and in particular the reliance on algorithms and streaming services and the things that creators go through for their art.
Hader: Well, the algorithm thing came from a friend of mine who had a show on a streaming service and said, “Hey, we’re on the front page of the streaming service.” “Oh my God,” and I went and looked at it, and I go, “Congratulations.” And I said, “I’m gonna watch this when I get home.” And then went to work. When I came back, I couldn’t find it anywhere. And then I had to type it in and type in the full thing and scroll down, “Oh, there it is,” and I just was, like, “That’s crazy.” Because [if] you went by that, you wouldn’t have “Seinfeld.” You wouldn’t have so many great shows that didn’t, you know, great movies, great things that when they started out, they didn’t hit immediately.
Olsen: And there’s a scene in episode six. Vanessa Bayer is playing a TV executive, and she sort of conveys her — she has this whole conversation through, like, sounds.
[Clip from “Barry”: MORGAN: So right now the show, it’s more “myrrrrhh,” and you could bring it to more of a “mee-yeahhh!” LINDSEY: I think I know what you’re saying.]
Olsen: Where did that come from? Because it’s very funny, but also something about it is very disturbing and unnerving.
Hader: Yeah. That came from — I was writing that scene and I didn’t know what the scene was. It just in the outline said, “Sally gets offered a job at BanShe and she reluctantly takes it.” That was it. And I started writing it. And then I thought, “Man, when I’m in those meetings with my manager, it’s like my manager and the other person, they’re just speaking another language. I have no idea what they’re saying. Especially when they’re getting into deals and rights and all these other things, I’m going, “What is happening?” So I thought she would just start making noises.
[Clip from “Barry”: MORGAN: And I think that you, Sally Reid, could bring to it more of a “mmm!” SALLY: I don’t know what you mean.]
Olsen: I want to be sure to ask you a few questions about the “710N” episode for which you’ve been nominated for directing. That episode also is nominated for writing and for stunts. That episode has such a wide range of tones to it. There’s this pastoral feeling with Fuches in the desert. There’s the sort of nonsense comedy with Morgan the TV exec. There’s Mitch the baker. And then it builds to this motorcycle chase. How do you get all those different tones to blend together into a 30-minute show?
Hader: It didn’t really hit me until I sat down and watched a cut of it just how insane it is, but you just approach each scene for what it is. It’s like, here’s the Fuches storyline. We’re gonna direct that. Here’s the Mitch [storyline]; here’s how that goes. And then obviously the big motorcycle chase. But you’re trying to just make sure that you’re just telling the story, you know? All those things, for me, I’m always just saying, “What’s the emotion of the character? What are they trying to get to? What’s the purpose of this scene?” And if there isn’t a purpose, we should get rid of it or give it some purpose.
You know, it’s constantly being hard on the material, which we do in the script phase and in the rehearsing phase, but you still have moments where you’re at a location, shooting something, and you realize the episode works without the scene in it.
Olsen: And then with the motorcycle chase, did you expect it to become the centerpiece that it is? I’m wondering how you initially conceived of that scene, and I know that it took you like months of planning to do. When you first thought of it, did you kind of realize how complicated it was going to be?
Hader: Yes. Yes. That was something very early on, when we came back from COVID, the first meeting I had in production was to previs the motorcycle chase. Which for people who don’t know what that is, it’s like a crude computer animation of the sequence. And then in July was when we went out to the freeway and we looked at a bunch of freeways and we decided on the 710 in Pasadena and just went, “Yeah, this is what it’ll be.” And we did a test to see what it looked like with these camera bikes to go through the lane-splitting. You know, all that. It was a long process of just being really safe and seeing if we could do it.
And then it was three Sundays in September. So we’d go at like 5 in the morning, they shut the freeway down. It’s so crazy when you’re driving out there and you’re seeing, like, “710 North closed from this time to this time.” And you’re like, “Oh, that’s because of us.” Then we shot just the lane-splitting stuff from like 7 until noon, was the amount of time we could be there on a Sunday. And it was like 100 degrees outside and we shot that. The second one, we did Barry entering the freeway. And then the third Sunday, we did everything with the gun and the stunt where the handoff goes wrong.
[Clip from “Barry”: BARRY: Oh, s—! Damn it.]
Olsen: Are there ways in which you feel, or you can tell, that your directing skills have grown from season to season? I’m wondering if something like the “710" episode, do you think you would’ve been able to do that in season one?
Hader: Oh, no, no. I don’t think I would’ve had the confidence. I’ve learned so much. I know my faults, you know, going into it. And when I get in the edit, I go, “Oh, man, I wish I would’ve….” I sometimes will shoot too lean, you know, I won’t shoot enough coverage sometimes, or I won’t do as many takes as I should. That was season two.
And so on season three, it was making sure that it’s like, “Yes, that works. I know exactly how this goes,” you know, you’re kind of cutting it in your head as you’re moving along. So you know exactly where to go in on certain things. And I know I’m only doing it to establish, you know, there’s a scene with Joe Mantegna and Henry Winkler and everybody eating dinner outside in episode five. And we did a reshoot of that scene. It was everybody eating and then it was like, “This wide shot, you’re only going to use this to establish where they’re at. So we don’t need to run the whole scene.” I’m like, “Everybody just sit there and eat. OK. Cut! All right, move in.” You know, it’s like, you don’t need them to run the whole thing, and my editors actually appreciated that.
I kind of picked up a little of that from working with Hiro Murai when he would come in and direct, and I really liked it. As an actor I don’t like to get worn out by doing a lot of takes, and then you see it and you go, “Oh my gosh, we’re like this big in the frame, you know, why are we acting our hearts out? You’re never gonna see this.” You know? I like to preserve the energy in the crew too. I was a PA and I used to work on crews, you know? And so I just know long hours, they just kick the s— out of you. It’s demoralizing after a while. So I like to try to keep it — do a lot of my work in prep. So when you’re there, we’re all very focused. We know what we’re doing. And then weirdly by doing that, if something comes up, it’s easier to pivot because you know what you’re trying to achieve instead of going, “I don’t know what the hell we’re doing.”
Olsen: You brought up when you were a PA at the beginning of your career, and I wanted to ask you about that. Is that time in your career something you still draw from a lot? Do you feel like you learned a lot about how sets work? I don’t know if you even noticed any specific things you feel like you learned from directors during that time?
Hader: Oh yeah.
Olsen: Is that time in your career something you feel like you still really draw from?
Hader: Yeah. I mean, I think the best thing was just the amount of hard work the crew puts into things, and knowing what all the departments do and who all the department heads are and how each department works was invaluable for me in terms of knowing how to work on things and, as a director, what they’re gonna want. We just had a props meeting today for season four and I can preemptively know what they’re going to ask me about in each scene and what they’re going to want to know.
But then I think also it’s like the directors and people I liked were the people who treated the crew with respect and was kind of one with the crew and knew what the crew was going through. But if you worked on something where the director was a lot of fun — like I was a PA off and on, not the whole show but off and on, on the first “Spider-Man.” Sam Raimi was just the best. He was so cool and chatted with everybody, knew everybody’s name and, “How’s it going guys?” And I remember being a PA on that, just loving going to work, man. Because it was like, I got to watch Sam Raimi work. I think Don Burgess shot it, and he was cool. And Dick Warlock was on that movie. He was a stunt guy. He was in “Jaws.” Do you know what I mean?
I would just hang out with these people and get these stories, being a movie fan, and just be like, “This is such a cool business and what an amazing job.” And that’s at Sony and that’s where we do “Barry.” So it is crazy for me now to have an office there and have two stages with my project there. It is never lost on me how lucky I am.
Olsen: But do you feel like — was this your goal? Is this where you envisioned yourself then?
Hader: I always wanted to be directing. Yeah. I mean, from a very, very young age, I’d watch movies and I would notice who the director was and the writer. And that was always what I was very much interested in. But I was never someone who sat at home going, “I’m gonna have two stages at Sony and my project and all this stuff.” It just never occurred — you know, I’m from Oklahoma. Just the fact I moved to L.A. is like, “Holy s—, you know, this is massive.” But I wanted to make movies. I wanted to make a thing that I wrote and directed, but I think on some level I always, in my head, it was always gonna be a small thing, which I love. I love those movies.
And then just because I was on “Saturday Night Live,” they were like, do you want to go have a meeting at HBO? And then during this meeting at HBO, it kind of came out, didn’t think about it. I just said, “Oh, I’d like to direct the pilot.” And it was like, “Have you ever directed before?” I was like, “No. I would like to direct the pilot, though.” And [“Barry” co-creator] Alec Berg, bless him, was like, “I think you could do it,” but he’s looking at me like, “Can you do it?” I was like, “No, I’m gonna do it. I, I, I’d like to do it.” And I don’t think I would be able to do it if Alec hadn’t vouched for me then. It was huge.
Olsen: And now, in your time where you were at “SNL,” I can’t help but wonder: Is the dynamic with Lorne Michaels similar at all to like a dynamic with, like, a Gene Cousineau? Do you feel like he was a mentor to you in the way that Gene is a mentor to Barry?
Hader: Well, I think Lorne is way more successful than Cousineau. And you know, Lorne’s like — when I first got in this, you know, on “Saturday Night Live,” you do kind of look up to Lorne. But I also, I think I was always someone that kind of tried to keep my distance a bit too. I would ask him questions that pertain to work. And then at the afterparty, maybe you would ask some questions. It wasn’t until later on that I was at the show that I would be like, “OK, what was the first season like?” Or, I remember one time it was one of the cool — one of those moments when I can’t believe I’m sitting at this table right now, is him and Steve Martin. And they were talking about comedy albums, and they were just two fans talking about Nichols and May and early Lenny Bruce. And Bob and Ray and just — fans. And I connected because I’m a fan. So connecting on that level was really exciting for me.
But I really respected Lorne. I really respected his opinion, but it wasn’t as sycophantic, I think, as Barry’s relationship is with Cousineau, where he’s like a father to him. With Lorne, it was never, you know, “Uh, Mr. Michaels, can I …?” I think one time, I remember I wasn’t doing well on the show, I thought, and I remember going into his office and saying, “What can I do?” You know, I go, “What do you need from me?” And he said, “I just have a big cast. You’re really good at impressions, and you’re putting impression pieces up, but they’re all people who are, like, dead.” And I’m, like, “Well, I like old movies.” He’s, like, “OK, you’ve gotten some of those on. It’d be nice if you could do impressions of people who are alive and maybe your age.” You know, it was more of that stuff. I didn’t want to kiss his ass because I felt like, oh, everybody kisses his ass. So I was just, it was more of a, “What do you want, Coach? OK. You got it!” and then run off.
Olsen: Is it hard to transition out of “SNL” world and back into the industry at large? Like, I don’t know if it’s hard to break the rhythms of “SNL” after it’s been a part of your life for so long.
Hader: It took a bit. The nice thing was I was making, I was acting in a lot of movies while I was at “SNL,” so that was helpful. But definitely going in and doing “Barry” and doing “Documentary Now!” Like, “Documentary Now!” was a great show because it was a nice bridge between “SNL” and “Barry,” where it was still kind of sketchy, where each episode was its own thing, but it was very cinematic. It didn’t rely a lot on capital-J jokes, you know, hard jokes. There’s a difference between performing on a live television show and acting. Acting is much more interior. It’s feelings, the camera’s in your face, it’s a much different thing. On “SNL” we were performing. On “Documentary Now!” we were acting, and then in “Barry,” it became like real acting. And there was another movie I did in there called “Skeleton Twins” where I got to act. It was like stepping stones out of “SNL” to “Barry,” I think.
Olsen: I imagine “SNL” brought you a certain level of fame and notoriety, but has the success of “Barry” changed your level of fame or how it impacts your life?
Hader: No, not really. I mean, we’re location scouting now, and every location we go to, people have no idea what the show is. I mean, today we were looking at a house and the guy goes, “So who’s Barry?” Like a journalist will come hang out with me and we’ll go into a coffee shop and they’ll be like, “Oh, no one’s….” They always seem disappointed. They’re like, “No one’s coming over here. Why isn’t anybody coming over here to, like, pester you so I have something to write about?” And I’m like, “I know, dude, no one, like, no one cares. No one cares.”
D’arcy Carden used to be our nanny. And she’s somebody that gets, you know, completely — people run up to her and love her. And my kids, she came to my daughter’s, this thing at my daughter’s school and people just lost their minds. Kids were running over, whatever. And my daughter was like, “Dad, I thought you were, like, famous?” My kids are always asking me, like, “So how do you know that person?” I’m like, “Uh, Seth Rogen, I worked with him. I’m an actor.” And it’s like, “Oh, OK.”
Olsen: Before I let you go, I just wanted to get back to asking about “Barry” but to ask something else about this season, this recent season: It got so dark, and I’m just wondering if you knew that at the start, or was that sort of like the process of writing? And in some ways, how much darker can this show get moving forward?
Hader: I don’t know. It’s funny: People always talk about how dark it is. When I go, “Oh, guys, it’s dark,” it’s because someone has told me it’s dark. But I just — it’s the stuff I find interesting. So I guess, yes, it will be dark. But people have read the first four scripts and no one has gone, “Jesus Christ!” They’re like, “Oh, this is, you know, all right.” You know, it’s all kind of like, “Huh. All right. Interesting.” So yeah, we’ll see where it goes. But yeah, I think my natural, you know, inclination — the thing I’m interested in for better or worse are darker, kind of sad and funny, you know? Even if it’s, at the root of it, a very kind, life-affirming story, I always want to kind of test it against the realities of the world we’re in. And so by doing that, you always have to get a little dark. Because I don’t find it any darker than what the news is, you know?
Olsen: But the news doesn’t compete in the comedy categories at the Emmys.
Hader: It’s a comedy because it’s 30 minutes. I always just say I’m doing a story. It’s funny, but I just say, I’m like, “This is a story.” And it’s like, comedy, drama, all these things, I get that. So it is interesting. Yeah. It is funny that I’m in a category with “Abbott Elementary,” which I love. My kids and I love that show. But, yeah, you can’t find two different …. Or Jason [Sudeikis]’ show, [“Ted Lasso”], you know, it’s very different. But they’re all great. I can’t believe the categories we’re in. They’re just insane. I can’t believe it. The acting category, I can’t believe at all. I mean, there’s all people … I’m a massive fan. I mean, Martin Short and Steve Martin, like two of my idols. They have Jason in there, who I worked with eight years and love, and Donald Glover, and Nick [Nicholas Hoult], who I just think is f—ing amazing in everything. It’s just crazy. So, yeah, I feel very, very lucky.
Olsen: Well, Bill, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate you being here.
Hader: Oh, thank you, man.
Special thanks to Matt Brennan, Jazmín Aguilera, Shani Hilton, Elena Howe, Kayla Bell, Patricia Gardiner, Dylan Harris, Brandon Sides, James Liggins, Sophie Chap, Darius Darakshan, Lauren Rocha, William Dobson, Amy Wong and Chris Price.
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