Anthony Carrigan‘s Noho Hank has been one of Barry‘s most reliable sources of laughter throughout the show’s run, but last night’s episode (stop now if you aren’t caught up) saw a sharp turn toward the dark for the character. Brought to this moment, practically, by threats from his Chechen crime family, but also years of feeling like a doormat, realizing he was being used by Barry, and the trauma from last year’s violent rescue of his lover and business partner, Cristobal (Michael Irby), Hank is something new now. Something detestable to Cristobal who, in a heartbreaking moment, leaves Hank despite warnings that he (and the Chechens) won’t let him go.
As you’ll surely agree, the final scene between Hank and Cristobal is emotionally gutting with Hank going through a range of emotions after they part — from anger to terror, devastation, and shell-shocked acceptance. After watching that unfold, we wanted to talk with Carrigan about all of it, from filming that goodbye scene with Irby to his feelings on the decision to end the show’s only comparatively healthy relationship and an arc that seemed like it might be on track to be the show’s only happy ending. Below, we also discuss all that, the exciting challenge of playing Hank’s evolution from comic relief character, Hank’s other breakup (with Barry), Bill Hader’s inventive murder mind, and Dave & Busters.
How did Hank find time to shop in Santa Fe for that amazing outfit in the first episode?
I mean, I think he was on a mission. He was on a mission to fit in, to be in disguise.
Right? Did he succeed? I’m not necessarily sure, but did he look great? I think so.
Always. I am curious about your own personal opinion on Dave & Buster’s. Are you a fan?
I mean, look, I’ve definitely spent my time at Dave & Buster’s. Let’s be real. Love me some air hockey, love shooting those hoops. Will watch a game there every once in a while for sure. But yeah, it was, I mean, God that was so much fun. That was so much fun just to be able to shoot there and do that whole choreographed sequence.
Is it hard as the actor playing it to accept, okay, we’re going to go in a different direction that’s going to be a bit heavier and break apart this beautiful relationship (with Cristobal)?
No, I mean, I kind of love it. I think it’s the more interesting route, and I think that’s what makes Barry a very unique show; that it’s not afraid to take it really, really deep and really dark and unapologetically (so). But I think it also tracks. It’s not getting dark just for the sake of getting dark or because getting dark is cool or something. I think it actually all tracks in a certain way that when traumatic events happen and you don’t deal with them, and you don’t deal with them in a healthy way, they will come out in other unhealthy ways and they will inform your decisions in toxic ways as well.
Hank was a character that felt like he might eek out of this, he might be a happy guy. And maybe he will, but up to this point, it seems like no, he’s been pulled back down into the muck with everybody else.
For sure. I mean, in a certain way, I think he was put in a very compromised position. There is the idea of what they (Hank and Cristobal) wanted their life to be and this kind of crime utopia where everyone got along, but then there’s the harsh reality represented by the Chechens who were going to come in and essentially take them all out. So Hank was put in a tough spot, and I think he tried to choose safety, but what that safety was, actually, was brutality and it ended up costing him dearly, I think.
Throughout the course of the show, Hank has been a reliably funny character. This season, there’s that heaviness, obviously. Does it feel different for you to not necessarily find those funny moments as much?
I think that you really just kind of have to focus on the north star of it, which is, “What’s this character going through?” And sometimes it is that kind of hilarious comedic stuff. But I think the darker that it’s gotten and the more that things had been stripped away, I think it takes on other tones, right? Sadder tones, more kind of depressed or anxious tones. And I think that is a bit of a challenge, to find that in this character. But I loved that challenge. I loved every second of it to be like, what does this character look like in this new light of having gone through this gauntlet? What is that now? And as an actor, you do not get that stuff very often, where that challenge is presented to you.
The big scene from this most recent episode is the one where Cristobal is executed and your reaction throughout that sequence. Can you take me through that? Because so much of it is done wordlessly. I’m just curious about any kind of direction or notes going into that and what you were prepared to bring to that moment.
Well, I think what was really fascinating about that process was this journey from the idea of the scene and the idea of all these kinds of marks that we needed to hit and what this represented to, how do we get there? How does this interaction happen in a way that is truthful and believable and messy and ultimately like any kind of breakup? And I think that process was a really interesting one to go in and say, “Well, what would I really do? What would I really do here?” And that led us to really interesting places as opposed to a really quaffed scene where it’s like, “I do this and then you do that.” It was actually way more organic and thank God I was with someone like Michael Irby, who was just so game and so willing and so gracious that we really found this beautiful kind of tenderness and heartbreak between the two of them. And it led to some really, really special moments.
To backtrack slightly, the visuals with the sand trap (that Hank used to take out his and Cristobal’s partners — and almost Cristobal himself), it’s so innovative and visually unique. What’s it like when you read that on the page and see that executed?
I was blown away when I heard about it. I was like, oh my God, this is so cool.
You get the sense that you, Bill Hader would bring a lot of creativity to the mix if he wanted to actually kill someone.
I’m staying on that guy’s good side forever, I promise you. But no, truly, I was really fascinated by what he had talked about and how it was going to be done. And also that they had done their research. That sand is actually a really amazing building material and this was an actual real thing that was poured over and thought about.
So it’s a business you’re going to get involved in now? It’s a side hustle for you, is what you’re saying?
I mean, look, I don’t know who to invest with or where to invest, but it seems like it’s a smart investment. I’m probably not going to go to those measures to actually do it, but yeah, we’ll see.
The final season of ‘Barry’ continues Sunday nights on HBO at 10PM ET.