NoHo Hank is a mobster, a murderer, and arguably one of the funniest parts of "Barry."
The Chechen mob boss who’d rather be spending an afternoon with his BFF Barry (Bill Hader) adds the unique balance between comedy and drama the HBO series prides itself on.
"The essence of what makes ‘Barry’ so interesting is that you have these characters that you might not even like, but you side with them," actor Anthony Carrigan, who plays Hank, says on a recent afternoon at HBO’s midtown offices. "Hank has done a lot of atrocious things, but he has this nature of wanting to help people and make sure everyone is well fed."
The Hader-created series, which has been renewed for a third season, almost moved forward without the strangely lovable Hank offering comedic relief. When it was first written, Hank was on track to die in the pilot, until Carrigan helped turn him into a rare find for network TV.
Carrigan, 36, who has alopecia, says he was faced with people telling him his diagnosis would inhibit his ability to land jobs in the industry. Then, he found "Barry."
Ahead of the series’ second season finale, the actor discusses what it’s like to create a villain who doesn’t know he is one.
You’ve had a lot of freedom to shift and create who Hank is.
Yeah, absolutely. Bill Hader and Alec Berg, the creators, they’re really wonderful about collaboration and getting my input on things and letting me build the character from the ground up. It’s one of those environments that you just yearn for where you can play around. Sometimes on projects a script supervisor will come over and be like, "you said should, instead of could. Can we just take it back seven pages?" So it’s nice to be able to improvise and play around.
How have you given him your own twist?
The physicality, certainly. That was something I brought in from day one. The character was originally written just as: Chechen mobster, very polite. I felt like physically, it was very important for me to embody that, this kind of weird, goofy, femininity … I spent a lot of time studying people with Russian and Chechen accents, but this is a character who moved to Los Angeles and really, really wants to be American. He wants to fit in. All of his colloquialisms point back to he’s trying to be relevant. You know, he’s on fleek.
He’s certainly unique. Did you look to mash together any other film or television characters?
Not really characters, but I looked to a lot of ’80s action movies to get this concept of what it means to be a macho man. I find it really interesting too, because if someone is trying to be a macho man, they’re compensating for something. Maybe it’s not really their nature to be a tough guy, but they’re trying really hard.
Hank always seems caught between the life he has and the life he wants. If he wasn’t a mobster, where do you think he’d feel most himself?
He would certainly thrive in the hospitality business. He would just excel at being a hotel concierge. Maybe at Disneyland or something.
The happiest place on earth.
Yeah, Hank just belongs there. Absolutely.
He brings a fun balance. He’s a character who we probably shouldn’t like on paper, yet we do on screen. If you had to make the call, is Hank, at his core, good?
That’s a tough one.
I think it’s a tough call for all of the characters in this show. But Hank seems to fall into this world because to him, it’s a family, and he’s looking for a place to belong.
Yeah, it’s tough. Who is so delightful when someone is getting their teeth ground down to the extent that he’s just playing Candy Crush? I’ll say good, just because his intentions are good. He just so happens to be a crime boss, so it’s naturally going to be hard for him. If it were up to Hank, he would bypass a lot of that stuff and get the camaraderie and the element of fraternity that he so desperately yearns for.
Might we get the opportunity to learn a bit more about his back story?
I hope so. As things kind of progress, you’ll see a few more sides to Hank but it’s one of those things that you can tell from the circumstances. I have my own ideas of what his back story is, but we’ll see how much of that makes it in there.