‘Barry’s Stephen Root Shares His Reaction to the Series Finale

May 16, 2023

[Editor’s note: The following contains some spoilers for Season 4 of Barry.]From co-creators and executive producers Bill Hader and Alec Berg, the HBO dark comedy series Barry is in its final season, with hitman turned acting student turned really emotionally and morally confused man Barry Berkman (Hader, who also directed every episode of the fourth season) locked up in jail and facing all of his past deeds. Every action has consequences, which not only goes for Barry, but for all the characters in his world orbit, including his love Sally (Sarah Goldberg), acting teacher Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), mobster NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), and family friend Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root), and it’s quite clear that they’re not all headed for the happy ending they might have envisioned for themselves, by the story’s conclusion.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Root talked about how bittersweet it is to come to the end of a project like this, that he’s happy with the way the series concludes, why he was so impressed with Hader as a director, how much fun he had switching things up with his character, the memorable experience of doing scenes with makeup and prosthetics, and what he’ll miss most about Fuches.

Collider: Barry is having such a great season. Is it bittersweet to go out on such a high note?

STEPHEN ROOT: It is bittersweet, but I feel very happy about how it’s gonna conclude because it seems more like real life. This is a guy with PTSD. If you try to lengthen that, I don’t think it’s gonna work so well. I’m happy that it’s gonna be its own little bubble now.

Image via HBO

Even if you knew where things were headed because you’re there shooting the episodes every week, it’s still different to actually get that final script and read how it will all play out. What was that experience like?

ROOT: We were very careful about trying not to learn what was gonna happen in each episode as we filmed them. But since we block film, which means filming two or three at a time, we had to know where we were going in the arc of the scene. But we did not know that, for the last scene. We got that late, as everybody did. It was satisfying to me, that it’s gonna end the way it ends. I was happy with the resolution of the main characters, and there’s a nice surprise at the end.

Is the finale that you first read, the finale that we’ll end up seeing? Did it continue to change and evolve, up until the last minute?

ROOT: During COVID, Bill [Hader] finalized what he wanted to do. They had written some of Season 3, and then they changed a lot of it. Once they changed that, they had to change what they were gonna do in Season 4. So, even though Season 4 wasn’t written entirely by the time we started filming, they knew exactly where they were gonna take it and it didn’t change. Bill had a full vision of what he wanted to do, and that’s what’s so great about him directing all the episodes.

What was it like to have him direct all the episodes? With all the work that you’ve done in the past, how does he compare? What most impresses you about him, as a director?

ROOT: Everything about him, as a director, impressed me. The fact that he’s learned so much, from the time he directed the very first pilot episode to directing this season, must have seemed like directing one long movie for him, which makes it almost a little bit easier because you know exactly where you’re gonna go, and you can collaborate with your cinematographer and all the rest of the people you work with, and know exactly what you’re gonna do. And at that point, we know our characters so well that, if there’s a small thing that we need to adjust, we can. His directing style is very quick. It’s not explaining the Book of Job to you. It’s just, “Okay, you’ve done this and this. Do that and that, and take less time here.” It’s very succinct, short speak. Professional actors appreciate when you’re not bombarding us with a lot of direction and you’re just giving us the space to give you what you want.

Image via HBO

What are you most excited about fans getting to see with this season, especially with the journey that your character takes?

ROOT: I’m really excited to see how they react to the latter part, after the time jump, to see how they react to this new character. Almost all of us are playing different characters in the last four episodes of this season, which is really unusual, and great fun to play, as a character actor. I think the fans are gonna get to episode five, and either tune out and say, “I don’t know what the hell this show is, but I ain’t watching it anymore,” or they’re gonna be overjoyed.

How was it to have that evolution, with your character becoming The Raven? Was it fun to just embrace that, full on?

ROOT: Yeah. And Bill helped me do it, by doing very still, quiet shots, as this person has decided that it’s okay to be a killer. He now has the power to do whatever he wants because the prison system has given him the power. After seeing that I stood up to these beatings and they gave me respect, that respect goes into him and engulfs him and turns him into The Raven.

What was it like to do those scenes after, having been beaten up like that and having his face certainly looking worse for wear?

ROOT: It takes a while to do because you’re putting on three different layers of stuff. You’ve got the eye layer, and then you’ve got the blood layer, and then you’re putting stuff on top of the blood layer. It’s a long process. It’s not as long as when I played a Klingon on Star Trek, but it’s still pretty long. And it takes almost as long to take it off because you have to take it off piece by piece. But I love putting it on. It’s fantastic. You can see the evolution of it, through the whole thing, and it’s just great. I’m a fanboy of that horror kind of stuff, so it was fun to be able to actually do it myself. I actually met someone, for the first time, on that episode who didn’t know me. They almost walked by me because they didn’t realize it was me. It was really fun to meet somebody in that make up. It was a riot.

Image via HBO

What will you miss most about playing this character? Is he a character that you’ll miss more than other characters that you’ve played?

ROOT: Yeah, I’ll miss this character very, very much. The people that I got to work with were so very, very talented and wonderful, and the writing was so wonderful on this show. I’ll miss this show a lot more than a lot of the dramas that I’ve been doing, up to this point. I loved doing Perry Mason, and I loved doing Boardwalk Empire, but it’s a different thing, with this show. As a group of actors, we went through COVID together. We went through waiting almost two years to get to a next season. We’ve been through a lot together, and I think we’ll be together for a long time because you really bond in that bubble.

Barry airs on Sunday nights on HBO and is available to stream at Max.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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