Anthony Carrigan Talks Playing NoHo Hank On ‘Barry,’ Rooftop Dancing, And Gaslighting Keanu Reeves

07.26.19 4 weeks ago

HBO

Few characters on television in the past few years have charmed viewers as much as NoHo Hank on Barry. There are a lot of reasons for this. The writing is sharp (the writing is always sharp on Barry), and the show mixes drama and comedy in a way that sucks people in (it’s so good), but mostly it’s due to the performance of the actor who plays him, Anthony Carrigan. Perhaps you’ve seen Carrigan around before this. He’s popped up here and there, most notably as the sadistic serial killer Victor Zsasz on Gotham. But NoHo Hank is something else. Something more. A phenomenon. His recent Emmy nomination confirms it.

Carrigan was kind enough to speak to us about the role over the phone from a hotel room in Montreal, where he is currently filming a movie with Kevin Hart and on a break from filming the upcoming sequel to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. We talked about NoHo Hank and Henry Winkler and yes, of course, that dance. We had to talk about the dance. It’s very important.

First of all, I want to say congratulations on the Emmy nomination.

Thanks so much, dude, thank you.

Has it sunk in for you yet, or are you still swimming around in your brain trying to make sense of it all? I know in the past you’ve spoken about having alopecia, and some concerns about booking work, and now you’ve got this Emmy nomination. It has to be wild, right?

It’s totally wild. I honestly was really not expecting it all. I just … I don’t know. I didn’t even tune in for the announcements, because I just figured it was such a long shot. (Carrigan learned of his nomination via a text from Bill Hader.) I mean, I knew that people were enjoying NoHo Hank’s character and everything, but yeah, it threw me, completely threw me. But I’ve been so happy about it ever since. I don’t know, I’m just … Yeah, this has been one of the most fantastic summers of my life. I got nominated for an Emmy amidst just the most incredibly talented people.

You’re up against two of your co-stars in the category, Henry Winkler and Stephen Root. They both seem like really nice guys, but I’m wondering if you want to drop any dirt to try to kneecap them before voting starts.

Oh, man, listen, I mean … Oh, gosh …

I mean, we could make stuff up. You could say Stephen Root tips poorly. You could say you saw Henry Winkler kick a dog. We could throw it all out there.

Listen, yeah, okay, let’s do it. Listen, all right, Henry Winkler, he’ll give you a hug, and then tell you that you’re amazing, and…

What a jerk.

Oh, God, he’ll give you great recommendations as far as the best sandwich spots in … Nope, that’s not … Okay. Stephen Root? Yeah, I don’t know. What do you say about Stephen Root, you know what I mean? What has Stephen Root ever done in this industry, you know? What? Like, 230 credits?

No talent hack, right?

Literally, hasn’t been around for that long. He’s just one of my heroes. They’re both my heroes. This is incredibly difficult. All I know is that all of my experiences with Henry have just been so warm and so loving. He’s a mensch, he’s a total mensch.

He seems like such a sweet guy. I follow him on Twitter and half of his tweets are pictures of his dog and pictures of him holding fish, and he just seems like a ray of sunshine.

He really is. He’s such a ray of sunshine. Honestly, he’s always like that, he really is.

I find Hank’s journey on the show to be fascinating, both onscreen and behind the scenes because onscreen, he’s this badass mobster who came from Chechnya and turns out to be the sweetest guy. Offscreen, I know Bill Hader’s talked about how Hank was originally supposed to be killed off in the pilot but they built the character out a lot after seeing your performance. How much of that did you know going in, and how much were you aware of the changes that were made to keep you around?

I think I was kept in the dark for a lot of it. I think when it was pitched to me, me going in for Barry initially, they were like, “So he gets shot at the end.” And like any good manager, mine was like, “So, yes, he gets shot, but this can be worked around, you know?” And I was like, “Okay, yeah, let’s really think about this.” I mean, it was really fun. Off the bat, I started to see that everyone was taking a shining to my character. I mean, the scene where he opens the door for Barry is the first thing that we shot of all of it. And so, my first line was like, “Hey, man … ” And that started sticking, like a catchphrase. Everyone started saying that around the set. And so, I was like, “Oh, that’s kind of neat.” And so, from that point on, I think they started to get more and more excited about the character and wanted to give him more to do, which I was so game for.

I know you’ve talked about getting a lot of villain roles in the past, and this character on paper, tattooed up Chechen mobster, would not come across as the nicest man on the show. So you’re playing a little bit against type like that in two different ways.

It’s my favorite thing to do as an actor is play against type. They gave me so much to play with, and I think that’s just … the world of Barry is this weird juxtaposition and these weird juxtapositions of characters that you can just really identify with. These weird double-sided characters really work in this world.

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