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‘Barry’: Anthony Carrigan on Bouncing from Farce to Ferocity in Season 2’s Best Scene

NoHo Hank's stunning reveal came in the first episode, and Anthony Carrigan's hardest day came in the second.

Anthony Carrigan in "Barry" Season 2 finale Episode 8

Anthony Carrigan in “Barry”

Aaron Epstein/HBO

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NoHo Hank’s big shift arrives at the end of the Season 2 premiere. Building off everything from “Barry’s” inaugural episodes — where the HBO audience grew to love Anthony Carrigan’s fun-loving, big-hearted Chechen mobster — the former best friend to our eponymous hitman has to show a side of himself that Barry, and the rest of the world, has yet to see: Scary Hank.

“His feelings are hurt,” Carrigan told IndieWire in a recent interview. “His friend really disappointed him and called him an idiot. So he’s kind of terrifying, but it’s coming from a place of real hurt and real pain.”

Terrifying is a great way to describe this stripped down, intimidating version of Hank. After all, prior to his confrontation with Barry (Bill Hader) Hank had been a killer, sure, but not a psycho killer. Hank is largely a goofball. In that very episode, Hank first asked for Barry’s help by donning a California surfer wig, a purple Hawaiian shirt, and showing up to Barry’s lululemon day job in disguise — a far cry from the from the steady-eyed mobster waiting for Barry in the parking lot.

“I think Hank is very taken with the idea of espionage and, in this case, playing the role very convincingly — to the extent that he feels like Barry doesn’t recognize him,” Carrigan said. “[But] it’s clearly, clearly not working, and Hank is totally oblivious to that. I think that’s what’s so endearing. He really goes for it and has no idea he looks completely the same.”

Those endearing qualities were ramped up over the course of Season 1, as Hank contorts scenes from famous movies (“You fly like Bugs Bunny in ‘Space Jam'”) and builds a surprising friendship with his one-time hired gun. The disguises donned to start Season 2 remind viewers of those endearing feelings, and fast, but then it was up to Carrigan to subvert those expectations. When Hank says “Don’t fuck with me, Barry. It’s not polite.” — he means business.

“I think that whole scene at the end is completely informed by the scene [in lululemon],” Carrigan said. “He goes to plead to Barry for help, and he goes in such a naive way as to think that he’s not going to recognize him — I feel like he spent all morning planning out this whole thing; to show up in disguise so no one knows who he is. So he feels very called out and shamed by Barry, and it’s that wounding that leads him to really confront him; to come at him from the reality that he’s a Chechen mobster and you don’t actually want to cross him.”

Even those last three words, written by co-creators Hader and Alec Berg (who Carrigan praises every chance he gets), could get a laugh if viewers aren’t taking Hank seriously. “It’s not polite” speaks to who he is on the inside, and how the actor lets his voice crack just a bit — how his eyes reflect a glimmer of hurt in their repressed tears — and those pained expressions speak to the man’s broken heart. But by the end of Carrigan’s monologue, there’s no mistaking just how angry Hank is with Barry. He’s not the happy-go-lucky mobster anymore.

Barry Season 2 Hank car Hiro Murai

“Barry”

HBO

“I played out that kind of experiment, playing a day as Hank, prior to the first season shooting. On the whole, after staying in character all day, I found it to be a really uplifting experience,” Carrigan said. “He just has this mindset of positivity and meaning well, while also trying to be organized and progress within the world of organized crime.”

Such dedication shines through in Carrigan’s performance, which is Emmy-nominated for the first time in 2019. The joy he feels from playing Hank clicked with voters in Season 2, and that’s at least in part because of how many dimensions Carrigan brought to the character. “I think in the first season Hank is perceived as this really specific thing, but the second season really opens the character up and gave me a lot of different tones to play with,” he said.

For Carrigan, the hardest day of Season 2 wasn’t the dramatic scene in the premiere, but the rooftop scene in Episode 2, “The Power of No” — when Hank tries to assassinate his former friend.

“I will say that the roof scene — that was hard,” Carrigan said. “It was pretty challenging because a) it was 100 degrees out on that roof, and I think we shot for 12 or 13 hours, and b) there are so many switches in that scene — going from wanting to kill Barry, his best friend, to having a gun pointed at him, to having to put up this front of confidence, then vomiting, and then discovering that he can actually make a good situation out of this, and then dancing the Lezginka, you know, that’s a lot of switches.”

Carrigan said “Barry” has helped create a buzz around his acting range, making audiences curious what else he can do and casting agencies more eager to call him in for auditions. Though plenty of parts seem a little too closely tailored toward what he’s already done (in “Barry,” “Gotham,” and other roles), he’s landed at least a few high-profile parts in two upcoming features: “Fatherhood,” starring Kevin Hart, and the much-anticipated sequel, “Bill & Ted 3.”

“I did audition for it, actually,” Carrigan said of the role opposite Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. “As soon as I got that email, I exclaimed with joy. I was so pumped because I’ve been such a fan for a long, long time. I was just super, super excited to go in for it, so I did and just had so much fun. And the vibe has been so much fun [on set]. The whole process has been great, and I’m excited to talk more about it at the right time, but I can say so far it’s been going fantastic.”

Bouncing between New Orleans for “Bill & Ted 3” and Montreal for “Fatherhood,” Carrigan is enjoying his “champagne problems.” Hopefully some actual bubbly can be popped come Emmys night, but until then, let’s relish in knowing we’ve only begun to see what this actor is capable of; for as many dimensions as Hank has shown, Carrigan’s got even more.

Final-round Emmy voting is open from Thursday, Aug. 15 through Thursday, Aug. 29 at 10 p.m. PT. Winners for the 71st Primetime Emmy Creative Arts Awards will be announced the weekend of Sept. 14 and 15, with the Primetime Emmys ceremony broadcast live Sunday, Sept. 22 on Fox.

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