Bill Hader stepped into the Emmy spotlight Thursday with “Barry,” the show he co-created with Alec Berg. It earned multiple nominations, including for comedy series and lead actor in a comedy series. Hader plays the title character — a former Marine turned hit man who follows a mark from the Midwest to L.A. where he gets bitten by the acting bug.
Where were you when you found out the good news?
I’m in a hotel in Hamilton, outside of Toronto shooting “IT 2.” We were up all night shooting. I had gone to the gym [and] was eating breakfast and then my phone started blowing up. I was so tired and turned around that I forget that today was Thursday and Emmy nominations. Not that I don’t care.
Were you surprised?
You go and do a lot of those Emmy prep sessions, but it’s always nice to get the show out there because there are so many great shows out there. You just want people to know about it, which sounds crazy because, dude, you’re on HBO, but there’s just a lot of great stuff out there. But no, I never expect anything like that. Alec just texted, “Hey look at us.”
This is “Barry’s” entry to the Emmys. Is it a big validation of the show and your work?
Yes, of everybody’s work.
Will it put wind in your sails?
It’s more like telling everybody, “Hey, let’s not get cocky.” Wind in our sails? You don’t have to worry about that with me and Alec. An Emmy nomination doesn’t magically make me better at my job.
What made you want to play this character?
It’s less of, “I want to play this kind of character” and more, “Wouldn’t this be an interesting story with this guy in it?”
Is it fun to spoof the acting scene in LA?
I didn’t know the acting world at all. I came out to be a filmmaker and a writer, so acting classes were never on my radar. I took an improv class at Second City, and that’s what got me hired at SNL. So we had to research acting classes, and we went and sat in on a bunch of acting classes. We also asked the actors in the show, “What’s this exercise? Are we doing it right?”