‘Barry’ Stars Henry Winkler, Stephen Root and Sarah Goldberg Talk Acting Strategies at Season 3 Premiere

Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Anthony Carrigan and Henry Winkler at Barry Season 3 Premiere
Gilbert Flores for Variety

The cast members of “Barry” are almost as excited to be back on the air as they are to see each other in person again.

On April 18, at the Season 3 premiere of the Bill Hader-created HBO series at Rolling Greens in Los Angeles, different actors frequently stopped in the middle of red carpet interviews to greet and congratulate each other.

“God, you are sensational!” industry icon Henry Winkler said to young actor (and new cast member) Elsie Fisher, almost shouting. “Oh, my god! I love you, and you are sensational!” he continued, referring to Fisher’s performance in the new season. “What is happening?” the 19-year-old said to Variety, blushing.

“I was such a big fan of ‘Barry’ before I worked on it,” Fisher shared, adding that they were particularly thrilled to collaborate with Hader and Sarah Goldberg. “[Bill’s] so wonderful to be around. I love Sarah. Those were the two I spent the most time with, just talking about music and stuff.”

The series follows Barry (Hader), a former Marine who works as a hit man and can’t seem to escape his past despite his best attempts. As he tries to separate himself from his dangerous work, he turns to acting as a new way to find purpose.

Winkler plays his kooky acting teacher Gene M. Cousineau, and told Variety about his own theories of performing. “Be authentic. Get very close to who you are, because every character ever written is who you are. [Like me, Cousineau is] a teacher, a father, an actor. [I am] maybe not as much of an asshole. But that’s my job to create.”

Stephen Root, Barry’s mentor-turned-enemy Monroe Fuches, added: “What’s great about this show is that people who have very different methods of acting work together. Bill comes from improv; I come from Shakespeare and straight plays; Henry comes from plays. But we all work together well and we can be funny or dramatic together.”

After Season 2 concluded with Barry shooting and killing several members of three different gangs while hunting down Fuches for hurting Cousineau, Season 3 takes a deeper look at Barry’s mental health. With Fuches having turned on him and Cousineau in the know about Barry’s dark history, he is now alone.

“It’s very hard to root for Fuches anymore,” Root said. “As much as he loves Barry, he’s not doing what he wants him to do, and that’s not going to happen as long as Barry’s PTSD continues.”

Barry’s girlfriend Sally (Sarah Goldberg) undergoes a mental health journey of her own this season, as she becomes the target of some of Barry’s fury while navigating the pressures of her budding TV career.

“Sally is using acting as a form of therapy,” Goldberg explained. “She hasn’t been able to afford a therapist in her life, and she’s gone to Gene M. Cousineau for that kind of help. She’s not great at finding the line between life and art. She’s always merging them and she doesn’t have a lot of boundaries. For me, I like to have a clear line between fiction and reality, for mental health safety. I like to think about the story as over there, and walk toward it, rather than bring the character to me.”

Like Winkler, Goldberg also heaped praise on series newcomer Fisher, calling their performance “brilliant.” The “Eighth Grade” star joins the ensemble as Katie, Sally’s newest scene partner.

“We see a lot through a young person’s eyes,” Goldberg noted. “It’s a really good vehicle where we can witness the industry through someone who’s quite green and optimistic, and how easily that might be crushed. It’s really fascinating to get to hold a mirror up to your own industry. And in this season, you see how Sally’s sort of commodifying her own trauma, and how complicated it is meeting the world of commerce when she thought she was getting into a really artistic, creative world.”

Though HBO hasn’t officially issued a Season 4 renewal for “Barry” yet, the next installation has already been written. Looking ahead, scene-stealer Anthony Carrigan, who plays NoHo Hank, said, “I don’t want to see the scripts until I’m about to do it. I love being surprised by what the writers and creators come up with. I just want to keep that lightning in a bottle fresh. But, of course, if Bill tells me a couple of secrets, I’m not gonna say no.”

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Elsie Fisher at the “Barry” premiere in Los Angeles. Gilbert Flores for Variety