Bill Hader Explains How 'Barry' Season 3 Was 'Overhauled' During Pandemic

Barry Berkman's story could have been so different if it wasn't for the major delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the show's star and co-creator Bill Hader.

It's been off the air for three years but finally, Season 3 of Barry is set to get underway on HBO on Sunday April 24. Barry was so close to coming back that the cast actually took part in the Season 3 table read in March 2020, but by the time they returned to shoot it, Hader and writing partner Alec Berg had "overhauled" the entire script.

Looking ahead to the new episodes of Barry, Newsweek sat down with star, director, writer, producer Hader, as well as his castmates Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan and Stephen Root.

Barry's Long Break

"I don't think any of us thought it was going to be this big of a break," Hader told Newsweek. "We were like a week or two out before the pandemic hits. We had our first table read for Season 3, and then the next day we were supposed to have another one we were like 'you know what? Let's just cancel it just to be safe. We'll give it a week'.

"Then I think the next time I saw everyone was a year and a half later."

Bill Hader Barry
Bill Hader stars in, and co-creates, co-writes, and co-directs the show alongside Alec Berg. Merrick Morton/HBO

When Hader and Berg were given an unprecedented break from production, they set to work on the next season. As it turned out, looking ahead to Season 4, affected what they had already written.

"I would say we did a pretty big overhaul on Season 3, because we started writing Season 4, and then in writing Season 4, Season 3 changed quite a lot." Hader added, "So it kind of was good. I mean, Season 3 would have been very different if that hadn't happened."

The elongated break between Seasons 2 and 3 meant that the cast and crew were largely kept apart during the pandemic. Once everyone got back on set, Hader and his co-stars expressed their joy at reuniting.

"I missed everybody. Just the whole group, the crew, the cast," Hader said. "It's a very social job. I'm showrunning and directing a lot of these episodes, it's a lot to do. It's nice when everybody you're dealing with are like cool, great people and incredibly talented. So I missed that."

"I missed the whole process of the show," Carrigan told Newsweek. "It's not often you get a show where you love who you're working with. I was looking forward to getting back in and playing. Not knowing if Bill is going to totally change up a line or something completely different is going to happen. It's a little bit terrifying and exhilarating."

As well as the lead character Barry, all the regulars return, including Sally Reed, NoHo Hank, Monroe Fuches and Gene Cousineau.

Season 2 of Barry ended on the cliffhanger of Gene recalling that he'd been told Barry killed Janice. As far as what happens next, Winkler is remaining tight-lipped.

Reading from a list of three basic things he could share with Newsweek, Winkler said: "One, Barry is on HBO. Two, I know that Barry killed the love of my life. And three, as a mature person, they made me run a lot." All the cardio required of the 76-year-old in Season 3 turned out to be a positive. "I have never been in better shape from the waist up," Winkler exclaimed.

Henry Winkler in Barry
Henry Winkler returns as the acting teacher Gene Cousineau in Season 3 of "Barry." Merrick Morton/HBO

Finding Redemption in Season 3

Whether they're murderers who kill for money, or actors with extreme narcissistic tendencies, many of the characters within Barry display obvious flaws. According to the team behind the show, Season 3 asks the audience whether the characters are too far gone?

"That's kind of the big question in Season 3, you know, is redemption even a thing?" Hader pondered. "Even before the pandemic, it was an idea swirling in our heads. Can they be redeemed? Is forgiveness a thing? Because these things all have consequences so I think that's kind of the question of the season."

Bill Hader as Barry
Bill Hader's character Barry returns to try and repair his relationship with Gene Cousineau in Season 3 of "Barry" on HBO. Merrick Morton/HBO

"It's like Succession," Root told Newsweek, comparing Barry to his favorite show, "They're all unlikable people but you love them. They're so self-centered, but every once in a while they'll come through and go, 'how are you?' and then they go back again."

Root, who returns as Fuches, continued: "I think Barry has to get darker. I think audiences are sophisticated enough now and they've seen such a renaissance of good TV in the last few couple of years that it has to go the way it's going."

"I think the audience is constantly asking that, and it's a really good question," Carrigan said. "If a character is completely irredeemable, then why watch? Why pay attention to the journey?

NoHo Hank
Anthony Carrigan plays the popular Chechen mobster NoHo Hank in Season 3 of "Barry" on HBO. Merrick Morton/HBO

"Take Barry. He's done awful, awful things, but you also understand the pathos and the reasons he's doing the things he's doing. He's a horrible person doing horrible things but you're weirdly rooting for him."

Winkler agrees with Hader's sentiment that redemption is "the theme for Season 3." He continued: "Can people change? I think Bill and Alec [the creators] believe they can."

Credit to Co-Creator Alec Berg

While Bill Hader is the face of Barry, he is only one half of the team that created the now iconic show and character. Hader and Berg created Barry, and together they split the duties of writing and directing every episode of this season for the first time.

"I don't think Alex gets as much credit as he should," Root told Newsweek. "He's not just Bill's boy robot, he is an amazing writer and an amazing director, and I just want to give him his due because this is their baby, not just Bill's. He's phenomenal."

Stephen Root in Barry
Stephen Root plays Monroe Fuches who is on the run in "Barry" Season 3. Merrick Morton/HBO

Root plays Fuches, Barry's former mentor, now tormentor within the show. While Root may be recognizable for his roles in comedies like NewsRadio, Office Space and Dodgeball, or dramas like Uncle Frank, Get Out and The Tragedy of Macbeth, Root would like to experience life as a leading man.

"I've pretty much been the guy that jumped into a project, jumped out, jumped in, jumped out. And I'd like to do a longform character lead," Root added. "I'd like to have that experience before I go."

While Barry has served as a successful addition to an already impressive acting resume for Winkler and Root, Carrigan's turn as lovable Chechen mobster NoHo Hank has opened doors for his career.

"The response has been overwhelming, and I've just been totally bowled over," Carrigan said. "Moreover, I'm just so incredibly happy that it's made other people laugh. When you look at fans' faces, and just how much they've found it hilarious.

"That's all we care about, just giving them giving them something compelling to kind of distract them momentarily from the crazy world we live in. That's what we care about."

Season 3 Episode 1, "forgiving jeff" is written by Berg and Hader, with Hader directing.

Season 3 of Barry begins on HBO on at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday April 24, 2022. New episodes will air weekly every Sunday night.