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How Stephen Root Finds Empathy For Barry's Most Twisted Character - Exclusive

All of the major characters in "Barry" are complicated personalities. Leading man Barry Berkman is trying to become a better person through acting but remains a contract killer whose violent rage isn't limited to his job. His teacher Gene Cousineau might be a positive mentor figure but has burned countless bridges. His girlfriend Sally Reed is successfully building a career for herself based on lies. Mafia boss NoHo Hank might be the most straightforwardly lovable person in the show if he wasn't, you know, a mafia boss.

And then there's Monroe Fuches, the character you could safely designate as the series' "bad guy" without any major qualifiers. As the man who brought Barry into the hitman business and has been determined to keep him there, he's the furthest from any sort of redemption. But as reprehensible as he is, even Fuches has human complexity. Actor Stephen Root spoke with Looper recently about his character's emotional arc in "Barry" Season 3 and how he digs into a role which might not seem to be the easiest to empathize with.

Fuches is driven by paternal jealousy

For Stephen Root, a big part of being able to step into the role of Fuches is to center in on the character's longing for human connection. Speaking without spoilers about where Fuches stands in Season 3 of "Barry," Root told Looper, "He's very jealous of the father-son relationship that Barry has with Cousineau, and he wants it to be like that with him and Barry again, but that's not going to happen. First of all, Barry is getting more and more down the PTSD line. He is imagining things in his head, he's going down a rabbit hole. There's no way that they can go back to what they had, but his jealousy, a lot of it stems from being jealous of being replaced as a father figure by Cousineau."

All of these emotions give both the actor and the viewer the opportunity to empathize with Fuches, which isn't the same as him being actually capable of change. When asked his thoughts on the show's big questions about whether people are capable of changing their nature, Root answered, "I think, definitely, Fuches can't. As Stephen Root, I think everybody deserves a second chance, but not necessarily a third. You can change with knowledge, and the more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to change."

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