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Barry's Anthony Carrigan Talks NoHo Hank In Season 3 - Exclusive Interview

This article contains spoilers for "Barry" Season 3.

As the uncomfortably affable Chechen gangster known as NoHo Hank, Anthony Carrigan instantly stole the show in the HBO dark comedy series "Barry." That's no small feat in an ensemble filled with great actors playing funny and morally complicated characters. Hank is the sort of guy you'd actually want to hang out and have fun with ... if you weren't scared he or his associates could kill you.

NoHo Hank is back in the long-anticipated third season of "Barry," with a storyline that explores new depths to the character while still giving plenty of material for Carrigan to flex his comedic chops. Looper got the chance to speak with Carrigan about how he developed NoHo Hank alongside the show's expert team of writers, what fans can look forward to in Season 3 (and a potential Season 4!), and his unorthodox pick for which actor should take over the role of Spider-Man.

How pandemic delays improved Barry Season 3

It's been a long wait for "Barry" Season 3. Did plans for the season change between the first pre-pandemic table reads and finally filming a year and a half later? Or is it the same as it was always planned?

No, one happy byproduct from the time away was that they were able to go in and tinker with the scripts and find a lot of nuance and a lot of detail in ways that [previously] weren't possible because there wasn't the time. A lot of the time in Hollywood, [it's] just go, go, go. You throw things together and it's like, "This works, this is great." But when you have that luxury of time in the way that they had, they were able to pay a lot of attention to how things were stitched together. That detail will definitely come across when people watch Season 3.

On NoHo Hank's authenticity and redeemability

Have any Chechens given you their opinions on your character? Are they offended, or are they your biggest fans?

I have not heard from Chechens as of yet. If I do, I hope that it is a very positive and amicable experience. I'm not trying to step on any toes.

So I take it you have not been to Chechnya?

I have not. No, I have not.

Did you do any sort of research for the role or just have fun completely forgoing any concerns about realism and playing the character?

Obviously, it's a fictional story, but I wanted to do my best and be accurate in the ways that I could be. So [I] definitely [watched] a lot of Russian YouTubers — a lot of hours spent down that rabbit hole.

If Hank wasn't a violent crime lord, what do you think he'd be doing?

Well, in Season 2, he specifies it. He says he'd be very happy running a hotel, or a chain of hotels, because hospitality is something that comes quite naturally to Hank. Taking care of people, taking care of customers and making sure that they're all squared away is something that Hank could do quite readily.

Do you think there's any hope for him for changing his life?

I think that there's a certain amount of hope for all of the characters in terms of changing. If there wasn't, then we wouldn't have a compelling story. But as to whether or not they're going to succeed in changing, that's a totally different question, and we'll have to watch it to see.

Acting vs. directing

What do you enjoy more: acting alongside Bill Hader or being directed by him?

Oh, man, that's a great question. It's funny because there's something that will happen every once in a while where I get a little bit of both ... I'll be acting with Bill Hader, and when the camera's on him, he will stop a scene halfway through and be like, "No, we got it," because he's already editing it in his head. And I'm like, "Wow, that's fascinating," because he's so in it as an actor, but as a director, he's also in it as well at the same time. It's mind-boggling.

Are you interested in being an actor/director or are you just focused on acting for now?

I've never really considered it, but I don't know. Bill's making it look very appealing, although he does it so easily. It's quite intimidating.

Coming attractions for Season 3 — and Season 4

So I — and I think a lot of other people — would say that "ronny/lily" was one of my favorite episodes of "Barry" so far. Does Season 3 have any wild action showcase episodes along the same lines? Or is that an experience that you can't replicate?

Yes. That episode is also one of my favorites. I thought it was so different and so unique, and it also paved the way for this show taking some weird twists and turns. That definitely follows suit for Season 3 as well.

We've been talking about Season 3, but Bill Hader has already written all the scripts for a potential fourth season. How long do you think the show can keep going, and how long would you want it to go for?

I want to do it as much as they will let me. But at the same time, they've done a wonderful job so far of creating a show that has no episodes that you check out in. There are no scenes that you don't pay attention to. I want that show to continue to have that attention to detail and to have it be that lean and compelling. So would I want it to continue at the expense of that quality that it has? I don't think so.

The wackiest PR questions

There is one very funny scene in Season 3, Episode 3, that's all making fun of the questions actors get during media interviews like this one. What's the silliest question you've ever had to answer in a PR junket?

It's probably "What's your go-to dance move at a wedding?" I didn't know. I can't do the worm. I'm not going to try to breakdance. I was a little bit at a loss to answer that question.

Have you had time to think about the answer since then?

I've certainly been to a number of places to dance and [I'm] still working on my moves.

How many times have people asked you who should be the next Spider-Man [as happens with the actors in the episode]?

I've gotten that one a few times, and I stick to my answer, which is Stephen Root.

On revealing NoHo Hank's sexuality

Now, let's get into a bit of SPOILER discussion for the new season. In this season, NoHo Hank and Cristobal are officially a couple. There's been a lot of subtext around Hank's sexuality in the previous seasons, but what was it like to go ahead and make his queerness directly part of the story this year?

It was a very natural next step in terms of the development of this character and the evolution of who Hank is. As an actor, it's always really wonderful when you get to see who this person is behind closed doors, see who they are in their personal life, in a more intimate setting. I wanted to do it justice and be respectful of who this character is and honor that aspect of the story.

Yeah. And there's such an interesting history of gay villains throughout film and TV. Some of the history originally was rooted in homophobia, but since then, because a lot of these villain characters are so fun, they've been embraced by LGBTQ viewers and creators who've played with some of these archetypes. In Hank's case, it's part of what makes him likable and not the traditional "bad guy."

Right. Yeah, absolutely. That's what's great about Hank — you can't quite pin him down. Ironically, he is the sweetest of all of the characters in "Barry," and he's the one who's the Chechen mob boss. It really subverts your whole concept of what a villain is and whether or not to root for him.

Building character via improv

When you're figuring out your character's history, how much is provided to you by the writers, versus how much do you make up yourself when you're trying to fill in the blanks of what's not on the page yet?

That's a great question. The writers do such an amazing job of giving you so much — especially now, in Season 3, they write for you. They write for the actor, and you can kind of hear your voice already saying it as you're reading it. You really want to do it justice on the page. Now, granted, when you get on set, it's a playful environment and you do start to riff and you start to improvise and see what works. Sometimes you get it, and sometimes it makes the cut; sometimes it doesn't. But ultimately, everyone is looking for the best possible scene.

Were there any scenes in previous years that stand out as ones where you improvised and it made the cut?

Yeah. Talking about how Barry and Fuches were like Fleetwood Mac ... they break up, they get back together, they break up, they get back together again, and then they make a great album, like the greatest hits of Fleetwood Mac. That one was off the cuff, and that was a really fun one.

Other than watching "Barry" Season 3 come together, what other shows have you been enjoying lately?

I've been watching "Euphoria," which is amazing and visually stunning. I'm loving that. I'm loving that show. Obviously, "Succession" is so good, and another one of those shows that's just like, is it a comedy? Is it a drama? It's kind of both. But it's so compelling and all those characters are terrible, but also, you understand where they're coming from. So I love "Succession." I don't know. There's so much. It's honestly dizzying how much content there is out there. At the moment, I'm enjoying watching "Barry" this season.

New episodes of "Barry" Season 3 air Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

This interview has been edited for clarity.