According to Bill Hader, the original script for “Barry” Season 3 Episode 6 was remarkably sparse and to the point: “Barry is chased and ends up at Sharon’s.” While on the Toolkit podcast, the co-creator laughed as he remembered that phrase, which over the course of a year-long creative process would arguably turn into his greatest achievement as a director.
In the video above, Hader breaks down that process and his struggle to shoot a well-covered traditional action sequence that was created in the edit. “What I was interested in was not making it an action sequence, but making it feel a bit remote,” Hader explained. “I find merging on the highways terrifying. And so I said, ‘I just want the feeling of merging under a highway in that you’re on a motorcycle that’s weak and falling apart, and all these cars are rushing past you.’
Watch Hader break down the chase scene above or listen to the full discussion below.
Barry’s motorcycle adventure was just one part of what was a packed episode that saw a number of storylines collide in just 30 minutes. One of the scriptwriting devices concocted by Hader and writer Duffy Boudreau to help streamline things was the creation of the character “Beignets by Mitch” (Tom Allen), a pastry chef who serves as a surrogate therapist for characters.
In the video below, watch Hader talk about perfecting the script and Mitch’s donuts:
Partial highlights from the transcript below:
Becoming a director in your 40s rather than your 20s
Hader: I think if I did this stuff when I was in my twenties, it would be a lot on other movies, or in the stories, it would be on other movies. And then, at the age of 40, like me, life unfolds and life is actually much more messy and complicated and interesting than a lot of movies. [G]rowing, watching movies sometimes, I felt betrayed because, ‘That’s not what I saw in the movies.’
People talk a lot about tone with “Barry,” but as you live you see that the funny and the tragic often happen alongside each other. And it happens every day, you know, it’s like you’re having a fun time, and then someone comes in and reads something, someone’s dead or whatever – you suddenly change the temperature of the piece, and then within 20 minutes you’re still laughing at something else because people don’t want to think about the terrible thing. So I think, in that regard, I’m happy to do this stuff now. You know, because I think if I had tried sooner, it would have been pastiche [Laughs]even more – not saying what I’m doing now isn’t, but that would really be pastiche.
Merrick Morton / HBO
Western interlude by Fuches
Hader: It’s impossible not to go out to this desert place and not try to make it look like “The Searchers” or Sergio Leone. It sort of dictates this style. Often it’s the emotion of the characters, especially the fact that he gets this second chance.
The universe wants [Fuches, played by Stephen Root] to be on a farm with goats, with a pretty woman. This is what the universe wants. And he keeps messing things up because he’s mad at Barry. And so, yeah, in his mind, he’s in “Dances with Wolves,” or something and he’s only 20 minutes from Los Angeles. I find that really funny.
One of my favorite scenes of the whole season is a scene with him and the farmer in the truck because it was played so directly… Couldn’t be a better situation for him. And yet he keeps messing things up because he’s angry. That will often dictate the style of this one, and not pushing comedy is always a big thing for me.
Things Are About To Get Dark: Making Episodes 6, 7 & 8
Hader [on deciding to direct the last three episodes of Season 3]: The last three kind of ramp to something, but I feel like [Episode] 6 is like the end of the fun stuff. [Laughs] I spoke to our colorist who was coloring the last episode and he said, “I had to go for a few walks.” So yeah, it’s, it’s hard, but [Episodes] 6, 7 and 8, I think they are one.
The Filmmaker Toolkit podcast is available at Apple podcast, Spotify, Coveredand embroiderer. The music used in this podcast is taken from the score “Marina Abramovic: the artist is present”, courtesy of the composer Nathan Halpern.