Barry creator and star Bill Hader gets lots of press these days, but in 2005, his name first made it into The Hollywood Reporter when he and Andy Samberg were “tapped as ‘featured players’ ” for Saturday Night Live. It would prove to be Hader’s big break — and provide fodder for the HBO series about a hitman who longs to become an actor.
On THR‘s 2019 Comedy Showrunner Roundtable, Hader explained, “There’s a scene in the pilot [of Barry] where he’s sitting there with all these actors and Barry’s looking at them, and that’s me my first season on Saturday Night Live. That’s me being with Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph and Fred [Armisen] and everybody, going, ‘I so badly want to be accepted by these people, but I don’t have the skills. They’re speaking a totally different language.’ ”
Still, even with his doubts, Hader showed promise from the beginning: “In my audition I did Vinny Vedici, the Italian talk-show guy, doing his own impressions,” he explained to THR in February 2015. “Usually the auditions are totally silent, but when I did Vinny Vedici, I heard Tina Fey go ‘Haha!’ ”
Seven years after joining the show, he would become the first male castmember nominated for a supporting actor Emmy since Eddie Murphy in 1984. While he never won for his four SNL noms (two for supporting and two for guest), his luck would change with Barry, for which he has earned nominations for writing, acting, directing and comedy series for all three seasons, with lead actor wins for seasons one and two.
Whether or not he claims the prize a third time this year, the show is something of a dream come true for Hader, who has admitted to the intense anxiety he often felt working at SNL and said that, since childhood, his deepest ambition was to become an auteur filmmaker. To Hader, the real attraction of working on Barry “was about figuring out what’s the story, and getting into the tone and the feel of it. And then being like, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll play Barry.’ “
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.