“There are probably more hitmen in movies and TV than there are in real life,” Berg said Sunday at the Produced By Conference in Los Angeles. “One of the things that kind of helped us is taking all those tropes…[‘Barry’] is the real version of that.”
Hader and Berg co-created the show and serve as executive producers, with Hader also starring in the title role.
According to the pair, they were aware that the concept of the show was going to invite skepticism. Berg joked that
he had to reassure people when he described it to them.
“I would tell them, ‘I swear its so much better than it sounds,'” he said. Berg also said “there’s a version of this show that’s a terrible version of this show,” saying that if the show had just been another Hollywood version of a hitman, it would not have worked the way it does now.
Hader also broke down the working relationship between himself and Berg on the show, saying Berg is good at keeping ideas from running too wild.
“Alec’s really good at kicking the tires on these ideas…and adding logic to it and sort of tethering it back down,” Hader said. He specifically referenced his idea to add daydreams to the show in which Barry imagines what his life could be like if he were no longer a hitman as an idea he took to Berg.
“You need that person there to go ‘What about X, Y, Z?'” he said.
Whatever the two are doing is clearly working, as “Barry” opened to strong reviews when it debuted on HBO in March. In her review of the series, Maureen Ryan wrote for Variety: “As a character, Barry is very self-effacing in the first half of the season, but as the stakes get higher, Hader’s performance acquires additional gravity and emotional weight. And it’s worth noting that the show’s depiction of depression is both evocative and respectful.”