Barry: Noho Hank Just Wants to Make Friends

Anthony Carrigan, the actor behind Barry's Chechen mobster "friend" Noho Hank, discusses what's it store for Barry Season 2.

Barry, HBO’s Emmy-winning comedy now in the middle of its second season, is primarily a vehicle for co-creator, director, and star Bill Hader. However, actor Anthony Carrigan is consistently stealing scenes and winning over the hearts of viewers with his eternally sunny Chechen mobster Noho Hank. Cheerful, polite, and optimistic, Hank is a ray of sunshine in an increasingly dark series, but even he isn’t immune to the encroaching darkness.

In Barry Season 2, Hank finds himself with more responsibility while working alongside Bolivian crime boss Cristobal. Hank has an incredible amount of respect and admiration for his new collaborator and feels pressure to to please him while simultaneously serving the interests of the Chechens. When a new threat pushes its way between Hank and Cristobal’s tight-knit operation, we see Hank’s sunny side flipped on its head as he tries to return to the comfortable new status quo he’s built in his partnership with Cristobal. We sat down to talk to Anthony Carrigan about this new side to Hank, the Chechen’s instantly iconic look, and what we all can learn from the merry mobster.

DEN OF GEEK: How was Noho Hank’s arc for season two pitched to you?

ANTHONY CARRIGAN: Well, it was really cool because up until that point, we’ve kinda seen Hank really at Goran’s side. It was really refreshing to talk to Bill [Hader] and Alec [Berg] about what the new season had in store and just to kind of see this new side of Hank because obviously he’s got a lot of responsibility, he’s got a lot of pressure, and he’s not necessarily dealing with it very well.

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It’s like you back someone into a corner and they’re going to respond. At the end of the day, Hank is Hank, this sunny, joyful dude but he’s also a mobster. Sometimes mobsters threaten people and have a little bit of darkness in them. It’s true.

Was it fun to explore that darker side this year rather than playing almost solely as the comic relief in season one?

It’s always really fun to be stretched in different directions. It’s an actor’s dream to be able to do a lot of things with a character and have a character that’s so multifaceted that you can kind of cover a range of emotions. I lucked out this season and had such a good time. It goes to some really, really crazy places as the season progresses.

The show has a lot of fun exploring Hank’s relationship with Cristobal in the early part of the season. How did you approach the dynamic between those two characters? It’s is a bit different than Hank’s relationship to Goran in season one.

He sees Cristobal as  kind of like birds of a feather. Here’s this guy who’s just really changing the industry of crime in a really conscious manner, and I think Hank obviously takes a real shining to that and this partnership is really important to him.

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When someone comes in to threaten it, it’s like there’s another rooster in the hen house, that other rooster being Ester, then it certainly sets the stage for conflict.

We’ve never seen a depiction of the mafia like this before. 

Yeah, it certainly flips it on its head but I think that’s what’s so funny about it is who you end up rooting for. A lot of the time, it turns out to be the bad guy.

Do you think audiences are rooting for Hank?

I hope so. Bless his heart. He really does try his best and I don’t know, I love Hank. I’m in his corner, I want him to survive. I want him to get the Iron Throne, you know?

One of my favorite bits early in the season is when he was in disguise going into Lululemon. Are there more disguises we’re going to see Hank in as the season progresses?

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Are there more disguises? I’m not sure if there are more disguises but there are definitely looks. I mean, that’s one thing you can leave up to Hank is he’s always impeccably dressed and dressed for the right scenario. You’ll see some interesting ensembles that Hank will break out.

What’s the wardrobe process on set like for Hank? 

It’s actually a really fun process because as you develop the character, you go in and they give you options. You look at things and the more you play a character, the more you can just sift through things and be like ‘ooh yeah, this thing really works or this thing doesn’t at all.’ It’s like the spirit of the character is telling you what it wants to wear. It’s weird. I’m not possessed or anything by a Chechen mobster, it’s all good.

Do go for the most extra stuff because that plays into the character’s spirit?

Sometimes, but then I don’t know, I also kinda like to keep it a little bit subdued because you don’t want the character to turn into a cartoon. You know what I mean?

Why do you think he is so fiercely loyal to Barry up until this point?

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I think from the get go, he sees Barry as this kind of Jason Bourne-type figure. He’s this really cool assassin and he really looks up to him, and admires him, and wants to be best friends with him, and to just have a really solid working relationship. Barry is obviously not that into it, but also Hank certainly plays a role in helping Barry. It’s certainly a fun dynamic, that’s for sure.

Do you have a favorite part of this early part of the season?

The Lululemon store, that was really, really fun. We could not stop laughing. It’s sometimes really hard to get through a scene because it’s just too funny. You’re acting opposite Bill Hader and he’s making you crack up so hard, and you’re also making him crack up too.

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The scene outside of the acting class, where Hank shows a little bit of a darker side, was really fun. That was the closest that Hank has been thus far to the acting class and to that whole world, which up until that point was kept pretty intact and pretty compartmentalized.

Bill Hader wears so many hats on that set. How do you chart his growth as a creator and director from season one to season two?

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It’s so funny because it was the kind of thing that from season one, you couldn’t quite tell it was his first time just because he was so on it. I think it just shows that it had been something he really wanted to do for so long.

He was finally getting the opportunity to do it and he was just on it. He was on it the entire time. You really wouldn’t be able to tell it was kind of his directorial debut but this season, he feels really confident and you really can’t tell that he’s doing so much although he is.

Almost everyone I talk to about this show mentions your character or your performance as one of their favorite elements of the show. What has this last year been like for you, playing a fan favorite character? 

It’s been wonderful. It’s been crazy. I love it when fans are just really appreciative of the show and they’re getting something out of it, they’re being moved or they’re getting an opportunity to laugh their faces off. That’s always super, super welcome to hear. I don’t know. I’m all for it and the fans are always so sweet too. 

Barry Season 2 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.