How Bill Hader's New HBO Show Was Influenced By His Years On SNL

Bill Hader Barry

Bill Hader handily became one of the comedy genre's most reliable players over the last decade. First gaining notoriety on Saturday Night Live before his 2013 departure, he has routinely turned in a variety of wildly different supporting performances in films like Pineapple Express and Trainwreck, and he will soon take center stage as the lead in HBO's Barry. The series centers on an assassin-turned-actor in Hollywood, and despite that outlandish premise, Hader was able to tap into his own personal experiences via his SNL-sourced anxiety and stage fright. The comedian explained:

I do have a stage-fright thing. It's gotten better. That was in the pilot a little. The closest thing in the pilot is when Barry goes to the bar with the theater class. I remember when I first got to SNL, I was suddenly getting to hang out with Amy Poehler, and Seth Meyers, and Rachel Dratch, and Tina Fey, and Chris Parnell; all these people that I admired. And I would be at a bar with them and I felt very out of place. I have to work with them and they are all geniuses, and I don't feel equipped.

Bill Hader entered Saturday Night Live during a particularly strong era for the long-running show. He joined a cast that included some major heavy-hitters like the aforementioned Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, which fed into his fish-out-of-water feelings of starstruck stage fright. Now, as he takes on a character who is also stepping onto the big stage for the very first time, it sounds like those experiences came in handy, as he uses them to inform his approach to Barry, whose mid-life crisis cause him to stick with his newfound acting passion after he unwittingly becomes part of a theater group while tracking a target.

As it turns out, there was quite a bit of crossover between Bill Hader's anxiety while working on Saturday Night Live and Barry's own anxiety about where his life should go, at least in the sense that both involve someone being hurt by something they're good at. Hader continued in his interview with Business Insider and explained:

That was the thing; at SNL, the anxiety was so high. The longer I was on the show, the better I was getting at the show, but my anxiety didn't go down. It was actually going up. So, again, the thing that you're good at is destroying you.

If nothing else, this seems to promise a substantial degree of authenticity in terms of how Barry will play out for audiences. Bill Hader isn't an assassin (at least we hope he isn't), but he connects with Barry in the sense that showing off his natural talents can ultimate be a detriment to his health and well being.

Barry will premiere on HBO later this month on Sunday, March 25, at 10:30 p.m. ET. It's only one of many shows that are set to debut this spring, so make sure to head over to CinemaBlend's comprehensive midseason premiere guide to get a better sense of all the awesome programming set up for the next few months!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.