Why Bill Hader Was The Only One Who Could Direct Barry Season 4

As HBO's acclaimed comedy/drama series "Barry" prepares to wrap up with its fourth and final season (read /Film's review here), co-creator and star Bill Hader is learning how to stretch his directing muscles to reach the finish line. The "Saturday Night Live" alum has already demonstrated his skills behind the camera with his previous directorial efforts on the show, yet season 4 marks the first time in the history of "Barry" that he's helmed every single episode.

Hader has proven himself to be quite the auteur throughout the four-season run of "Barry." The series has developed a distinct style that's on full display in episodes like "ronny/lily," a surreal odyssey that depicts a bad day on the hitman job for Barry, and "710N," which features an exhilaratingly unique motorcycle chase sequence. Hader is primarily known for his comedic performances, but the actor started his career in Hollywood as a production assistant with the intention of one day becoming a filmmaker. That makes "Barry" a return to his roots more than a change of creative direction.

A killer vision

According to The Wrap, it was unit production manager Aida Rodgers who personally told Bill Hader that he should take the directing reins for the show's final season. "I had grown very much as a writer and as a director [over the previous seasons], and I had a very clear idea of how everything should look," Hader explained. He continued:

"I think it got to a place where it made more sense for me to do them all, because I think you could've brought in Martin Scorsese and I still would've been like, 'Oh no, the camera needs to go over there!' I would've driven everybody crazy because I was so clear with the way I thought it needed to look."

Hader grew up devouring movies in his youth and came to develop a keen understanding of the language of cinema. "Barry" writer and co-executive producer Duffy Boudreau, who has also been friends with Hader since they were high schoolers, told The Wrap that all the material Hader watched when he was younger "just really sunk in him in a way where he's absorbed it."

More than just cool

"Barry" has previously taken some unorthodox approaches to its visual aspects. That highway motorcycle sequence, for example, doesn't feature the same sort of cuts to close-ups found in the traditional action scene. Rather, the camera angles retain static positions, a technique that Bill Hader seems to utilize in order to further suffocate the viewer with suspense. Hader talked about his methods, explaining:

"I think it's mostly being able to trust my instincts, understanding certain technical things, understanding how to cut in a way and what can and can't be done in an editing room, and just knowing that my best work when I'm a director comes when I'm thinking in terms of how to tell the story as opposed to, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we did this?'"

The simple pitch for "Barry" is "hitman who wants to become an actor," but the series has progressed into a modern crime epic about the traumatic effects and destructive shockwaves of rampant violence. Hader has likewise evolved into a confident filmmaker of his own, and we can only hope that this won't be the last time we see him in the director's chair.

"Barry" season 4 will premiere April 16, 2023, on HBO.