Emmy winner Bill Hader loves the dark comedy trend that gave rise to ‘Barry,’ ‘Fleabag’

Bill Hader in 'Barry' Season 2
Bill Hader wins his second Emmy for lead actor in a comedy series for “Barry.”
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP)

Bill Hader collected his second consecutive Emmy Sunday night for his lead performance in HBO’s dark hit man comedy, “Barry.”

“We never look at it in terms of comedy or drama; we’re just kind of telling a story as honestly as we can. I think, just by virtue of the guy being a murderer, it’s going to get really dark,” Hader said in the press room following his win for Season 2.

In the battle among networks and streaming services for Emmys 2019 supremacy, HBO came out on top, nabbing nine victories at Sunday’s ceremony.

Sept. 22, 2019

“Season 3, we just kind of met on it for the first time last week. Yeah, it’s really [messed] up. It’s really terrifying. But I liked this trend. It used to be a thing, ‘You can’t do that because it’s too …’ As long as it’s about the character and it’s emotionally resonant ... I think ‘Fleabag’ does it too, incredibly well.”

Hader was also nominated Sunday for writing, directing and executive producing the series, about a hit man trying to explore other parts of his soul through acting, but lost the writing and directing prizes to “Fleabag’s” Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harry Bradbeer, respectively. The multi-hyphenate, previously known for his character Stefon and impressions of celebrities such as Al Pacino and Vincent Price on “SNL,” has now earned three Emmys in 20 nominations. (Hader nabbed a statuette as a producer on the Emmy-winning animated series “South Park” in 2009.)

Keep tabs on all the winners at the 71st Primetime Emmys with our live-updating list.

Sept. 22, 2019


In an interview with The Times last month, “Barry” co-creator Alec Berg called Hader “a film nerd of epic proportions” who had learned filmmaking while working on sets before he broke out as a performer.
For his part, Hader said Sunday night he relies on Berg’s expertise.

“Usually after every take, I’ll go over to Alec and I’ll go ‘What do you think?’” he said in his lead actor acceptance speech. “And I get one of two responses. It’s either, ‘Eh, we should move on.’ Or, ‘Eh, we should go again.’ So I want to thank you for molding my performance, Alec and I don’t know where I’d be without you. Love you, man.”

In his interview with The Times, Hader confirmed he came to Hollywood hoping to become a director rather than an actor. “I’m a big fan of Hal Ashby’s movies, like ‘Being There’ and ‘The Last Detail,’” he said. “They’re comedies, but they’re not shot like comedies. They have incredibly emotional moments but I’m laughing through the whole thing. ... If you have your TV on mute, it should feel like you’re watching a drama. Then the comedy is funnier.”

Following his win Sunday night, he was asked how he processed coming to Hollywood intending to become a filmmaker rather than a performer, then winning his second consecutive Emmy as a lead actor in a comedy.

He said, “I haven’t processed it from last year. Yeah, it’s weird, like, being a production assistant … I never did the Emmys, but I used to PA on the Grammys when I first moved here 20 years ago, so it’s very weird being on this end of it. But I can’t … I have no idea.”