Bill Hader Has The Toughest Time Writing One Particular Character In Barry

Bill Hader is no doubt one of the greatest living comedy writers. He's been in the writers room of legendary long-running series like "South Park" and "Saturday Night Live," and he co-created the hilarious satirical show "Documentary Now!" with fellow "SNL" alum Fred Armisen. His foray into a tonally ironic criminal thriller series, "Barry," has been met with rave reviews. Despite being a well-seasoned veteran of his field, Hader still runs into a bit of writer's block when it comes to one character in particular.

The HBO series "Barry" centers around the titular protagonist, played by Hader. Barry is a veteran-turned-assassin that has his life turned upside down when he drops in on an acting class to stalk one of his assigned hits. Feeling impassioned for the first time in his life, Barry attempts to pursue his newfound acting dreams while balancing his illicit career as a gun for hire. The result is a groundbreaking, genre-bending series that is both heart-wrenchingly painful and gut-wrenchingly funny.

... The one he played himself

Bill Hader is no stranger to writing for himself, having done it both on "SNL" and his Netflix series with Fred Armisen, but for some reason he finds it challenging when it comes to Barry. Hader said the hit man-turned-actor is "the weirdest one to write for" in an interview with Collider. He admitted that this is "weird" — you'd think a character based loosely on Hader himself would come most naturally to him. Surprisingly, the creator has found the opposite to be true.

Before you start psychoanalyzing him, Hader's reasoning is much more innocent than you might suspect. He isn't necessarily intimidated by writing for himself, he just gets "so excited about all the other characters" that he neglects to create an engaging storyline for Barry. With a strong cast that includes comedy legends like Stephen Root ("Office Space") and Henry Winkler (Fonzie from "Happy Days") in supporting roles, it's easy to understand why Hader is captivated by the other inhabitants of the "Barry" universe. Root plays Barry's seedy but insightful handler, Fuches, while Winkler gives an inspired performance as eccentric acting coach Gene Cousineau. 

Other characters came first

Bill Hader found himself so motivated by the others characters' scenes that he got in the habit of mouthing their lines, Henry Winkler told The Hollywood Reporter. "You would have to say 'Bill, Bill, you're mouthing the words again,'" the actor recalled. 

This preferential love for the other characters in the series only becomes a problem toward the end of the writing process, when Hader realizes he doesn't yet have a storyline for his central character. The dilemma apparently "comes up every season," the comedian revealed to Collider. "We'll be ready to shoot and [writer-producers] Duffy Boudreau or Liz Sarnoff or [series co-creator] Alec Berg or someone will [say], 'Barry doesn't really have anything to do.'"

Somehow, the compelling plotlines involving the show's main character feel like anything but an afterthought. It is characteristic of Barry to be passive, as he is compelled to action only by his love of acting, his obligation to his job, and the people he cares about. Even into its third season, "Barry" continues to uniquely approach and develop the moral conflict of its protagonist.