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‘Barry’: Bill Hader Explains How He Pulled Off That Chase in Season 3 Episode 6

TheWrap goes long with Hader on directing Season 3’s standout episode, including what went into crafting that lengthy action sequence

It’s not surprising to learn that Bill Hader is a fan of “Mad Max: Fury Road” – especially in the wake of the latest episode of “Barry.”

In Season 3 Episode 6, the actor/showrunner/filmmaker’s lead character finds himself caught up in a chase sequence with a motorbike gang, but the action scene plays out unlike many we’ve seen before. Hader directed the episode himself with an eye towards doing something unexpected, and just as he wowed viewers with his direction of the standout Season 2 episode “ronny/lily,” this Season 3 installment – titled “710N” – sees Hader once again showing that he’s been able to translate his love of movies into a unique and innovative eye as a filmmaker himself.

“I like a good chase sequence,” Hader told TheWrap in a recent hourlong interview about the episode. “I love ‘Road Warrior’ and ‘Mad Max’ and those things. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ I think I’ve seen that a dozen times. But it was kind of going, yeah, I’ve seen that before, let’s try it this way and see how it works… I think the impetus of it was doing a chase scene, but not making it feel genre, not making it too actiony.”

The initial nugget of inspiration for the episode’s action sequence came from Hader sitting in Los Angeles traffic.

“I think it came really from driving in Los Angeles and being in traffic and having those motorcycles split lanes,” Hader said. “And it freaks me out every time they do that.”

The result is a sequence that’s equal parts hilarious and thrilling, but all captured from a distinctive point of view. The camera is removed from the action almost, following Barry on a busted-up motorbike as he enters a highway and zooms through traffic, dodging the biker gang. And it all plays out with zero score, as the tactile sound design serves as the driving force behind the whole scene (as was the plan from the first day he pitched the scene, Hader revealed).

For Hader as a director, shot composition and filmmaking is instinctual, and the best way he can explain how he comes up with shot choices is by contrasting his talent to that of his friends and former “SNL” cohorts John Mulaney and Seth Meyers.

“You just have it in your head, this is how it should go,” Hader began. “And I don’t know how else to explain it. You watch a ton of movies your whole life. This might sound really lame, but I think I have friends who are really good at telling jokes. They can just tell jokes — John Mulaney, Seth Meyers. These are people who just have a natural ability to see the structure and come up with a perfect joke. And just riffing, just hanging out with them, they talk in jokes. I’ve never been able to do that. I don’t know how you do that. But I do think since I was very young, because I watched a lot of movies, I was always thinking of shots. Always thinking of camera angles.”

Hader talked about how filmmakers like the Coen brothers and Steven Spielberg edit in camera – meaning they know how each shot is going to fit into the entire film, versus shooting a lot of coverage and figuring it out in the editing room. For Hader, that instinct comes from making movies as a kid with his sisters in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“I remember having a video camera and I didn’t know you could edit VCR to VCR,” Hader explained. “So all of my short films were just ‘Evil Dead’ spinoffs with my sisters running around, being chased by the camera. But it’d be, I get this shot of my sister Kara coming out of the house and then I would run far away to get the wide of the house. And I would run back to the exact same shot of her close up and then she would look, and then I would run over to this area. And you would learn to think that way.”

For the chase sequence in “Barry,” Hader had quite a few more resources at his disposal, but still managed to complete the sequence in a short amount of time – the highway portion of the chase was shot over the course of three different Sundays, closing down traffic in Pasadena for five hours at a time. And then it was on to the culminating scene at the used car lot, which Hader wanted to capture at magic hour.

And while this particular episode of “Barry” was a challenge to pull off, comparing the finished product to the idea when Hader first pitched it, he’s pretty happy. “It sounds silly to say this, but it’s pretty much exactly what I hoped it would be,” he admitted with a laugh.

Read on for our full, in-depth interview in which Hader talks at length about the chase sequence as well as the rest of the episode – from the inspiration to “Beignets by Mitch” to that shocking ending. And as for what’s next, brace for impact: “Everything after this starts to get really dark,” Hader says of the final two episodes of the season.

So at the beginning here, Fuches gets shot and left for dead.

Yeah, we had this idea that Fuches, in his quest to get this vengeance army, would – we had written to this point where he’s given the Taylors, this motocross family, the information that he’s given all these other people and then I don’t know where it came up that he got shot. But I remember being in the writers room, and I pitched, “What if he got shot, left for dead, and then a cowboy came and picked him up and he took him to a ranch and it was the exact same thing as Chechnya, like there’s goats and a beautiful woman there and they all instantly fall in love with him (laughs). And it’s the universe telling him this is what you should be doing with your life. And because of vengeance and anger, he ignores it and ends up f—ing himself again. It kind of came together pretty quick. But, you know, you can write these things, but it didn’t really strike me how shocking that open is until we cut it together.

Fuches is always kind of flirting with disaster and at this point I thought, “Did he finally get killed?”

Yeah and are we the show that’ll kill a main character in the cold open and then that’s that? It definitely gets the episode off to a start where you are not on steady ground, which is what I liked about it. And it also told you something different about the Taylors as opposed to the other victims’ families that he was talking to. Like, we’ve just seen what how it went with Annabeth Gish and her son. Now he’s dealing with psychopaths. So that was the kind of idea behind that, which was these people have no qualms shooting anybody and of course with Fuches, once he tells them all this stuff, he can’t be alive. They have to get rid of him.

And then of course not only is he not dead, but he ends up in the exact situation he was in in Chechnya. And it’s funny because he’s so sincere when he’s having this conversation with this girl’s dad in the truck.

(Laughs) It was just funny that in his head, he’s in “Dances with Wolves,” but he’s only, you know, 20 minutes outside of Los Angeles. And that all this happens in the span of like an hour. That scene in the in the truck is one of my favorite scenes of the season. It makes me laugh so hard. He goes “My daughter, she wants to be boyfriend/girlfriend, I told her you seem like a good man,” and Frankie Gavin, my editor, and I were like, “Based on what?! You found him shot in the desert!” (laughs)

And Fuches believes it. He’s like, of course.

Yeah. But that’s how the universe has been to Fuches. What are the chances he gets set up to Chechnya, on top of a mountain, and he just happens to find this beautiful woman and hit it off with her? And then he blows it up because of Barry, which is why we thought it was so funny that the exact same thing happened to him and he f–ks it up again out of anger (laughs). Which, as funny as it is, it’s also very human. All you have to do is not be mad about a guy who’s not thinking about you. That’s all you have to do, and it’s impossible for him.

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Yeah. He just takes the car and speeds out of there.

(Laughs) He steals their truck!

Then you introduce Robert Wisdom as Janice’s father, which is just really great casting and I have to imagine this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.

Yeah, he plays a very big part of the last few episodes. He’s amazing. What an actor and what a just wonderful, wonderful human being. And we just had so much fun getting to work with him. He’s going to be somebody I think when the season ends, it’s kind of amazing that he was just in really the last three episodes.

At the beginning of the episode Albert starts to lock in on Barry. I like how quickly that happens, it’s not some drawn out thing. Was there any consideration for drawing that out more or was it like, “This guy’s very smart, he’s going to figure out that?”

This is the last time I can say this: That was part of the reshoots. It’s one scene in Episode 6 that we added in reshoots. Episode 6 initially started with the shot with Fuches. Fuches was shot, left in the desert, cut the titles and you cut to Albert talking to Sharon. And I think I was talking to the editors about it and we decided, “Man you know what would be good here, is a scene of why is he there?” And so maybe a scene where he’s on to Barry, which I think we just needed it.

We danced around having that scene someplace else. The scene where he says, “There is no way that Fuches could have taken out a whole monastery, whoever did this was trained.” That was always a moment that we had in one area and then we pushed and we moved it to another area. Initially it was in Episode 5 when he comes in and says, “This guy isn’t the Raven.” We initially had it there, and then it we kept cutting it and said, “It belongs at the top of six.” And so that’s what makes him go to Sharon’s house. So that scene at Sharon’s house, that’s not the original context. The original context and the way that scene is shot is he’s visiting her because it’s his friend’s widow.

Oh interesting.

And so by shooting that first scene, it seems that’s why he went there. And it worked fine, we cut it in a way where, because initially that scene had a lot of banter between the two of them where you understood their past and what Chris meant to them. There was this longer scene. We found a take where he was like, “Have you talked to Berkman lately?” That just seemed to work because he did other takes where it was more sincere and more kind of, he was asking about an old friend. And thank God he did one take that had a bit of a thing to it that made it seem he was leadingly asking her.

That’s fascinating because I was going to ask you, and we’ll get to it a little bit later, but I was going to talk to you about threading that needle to lead to the big reveal at the end of the episode.

Well that scene serves two purposes. One is going to happen later in the season. But the other one is to say, “Oh, we should get Barry out here.” And what we don’t know is that Fuches has already been there. He’s already gotten to her. And so Sharon is playing that going, “Wait, is he coming here because I talked to Fuches?” So it was trying to very knowingly set up the viewer to think, “Oh no, Barry’s going to come to Sharon’s house and Albert’s going to be there and things are going to get tense.” You first come up with the idea that Sharon poisons him and then you try to hide it. And then it’s like, “Oh, we can use Albert to kind of hide this” and make you think, “Oh, that’s where this is headed.”

Where did Beignets by Mitch come from?

I think we just finished shooting Episode 4, so we were in production. And then the next episode I was going to direct was Episode 6 and so I sat down with the script and I was talking to [writer] Duffy Boudreau, and I think we both realized that Sally, Noho Hank and Barry had these scenes where they were just talking to people to get information out. Sally had a scene with Lindsey, her agent. And then I think Barry had a scene with his roommates. And then Noho Hank had a scene with a guy in a park, an old man sitting down in the park where he was just crying talking about Cristobal.

They all seemed pretty sweaty, it seemed the purpose of the scenes was to get you to understand where they were at emotionally. So we decided what if they all went to the same person, and we came up with Mitch. And that actor, Tom, is a very funny actor and he plays a character called Chad Kroger. I don’t know if you’re familiar with his YouTube videos but they are incredibly funny.

I haven’t. I just love that he’s treated as this sage advisor.

And if you notice nobody in line is with anybody. Everybody’s by themselves (laughs). They just want advice. So it’s this weird kind of California guy who gives advice, so that’s where Beignets by Mitch comes from. I love the woman who runs up after Noho Hank and says, “I had that talk with my daughter” and he says, “And?” (laughs).

I also love that he just offers Hank to run the business with him.

Yeah. He’s like, “I know I just met you but you seem pretty rad.” Noho is like, “Yeah, I’ll mull that over…” (laughs). Anthony just did that on that take. He did a couple where he just was polite and they did some where he really shut him down. But I love that take where he was like, “Yeah…. Yeah….”

I love that the shots match for each of them and also for Mitch each time.

Yeah. It was pretty easy to shoot it, but that was the design of it was that, it’s the same scene over and over again. And that all these desperate people from the show happen to go to the same place. That’s just a very L.A. thing where everybody’s going to the same place to get pastries or something.

Another filmmaking thing I wanted to ask you about the scene with Gene and Annie, and the shot with the mirror in Annie’s art class I thought was really cool.

Oh thanks. That is inspired slash a full rip-off of a shot in “Cold War.”

Oh that’s right. I didn’t clock that.

I love that shot in “Cold War” and we were trying to figure out, “Oh man, what’s the emotion of this scene?” And it’s that she thinks he’s being duplicitous. We were talking about mirrors and everything and then I was just looking at the location and I said, “Why don’t we just do that shot from ‘Cold War,’ but we’ll take it one step further. We’ll actually add a camera move, we’ll push in.” In “Cold War” it was locked off and looked amazing. But what did we actually push in. That’s what we ended up doing.

That movie is great.

I love that movie. And that was a hard scene for them to do because it’s all in one.

Yeah. And they can’t move too much.

Yeah. You can’t move, you have to be hyper aware of your mark. But I thought they pulled it off beautifully.

And then the message to Sally dictating on the phone while shopping, it’s funny as it is, and then the very quick cut to her reading it aloud in the Banshee office, it’s so good.

(Laughs) Yeah. I remember writing that scene during the pandemic. We were trying to get to like, “Where are they at?” That was a note with the script, was it’d be great to know where Sally and Barry are with each other. And just to check back in with that relationship. And I said, I think what it is that he’s saying, “Hey, you know what, you were right about me and I’m sorry, and don’t worry about it.” He’s basically saying what he said to Cousineau, which is you are never going to have to see me again. “I’m moving on, I’m moving into the future by going back into the past like Marty McFly, lol.”

And then there is a very weird throw out to the first sketch group that I saw in Los Angeles. When I’d been in LA for a couple years, I was a production assistant and my friend Eric Filipkowski invited me to go see a show at the Second City Theatre and it was a sketch group called HaHa Fresh. And that’s why it says HaHa Fresh in there.

But in that group was Simon Helberg and Derek Waters, from “Drunk History.” And that was the first time I saw people my age doing comedy in L.A. on a stage. And I thought, “What am I doing with myself? Maybe I should start doing this.” (laughs) And I figured out oh you can sign up over there. And that was Second City L.A., and if I had never gone to that show and signed up for Second City L.A., then Megan Mullally never would’ve seen me and I never would’ve gotten on “SNL.” I don’t even remember if the show as very good, but it was inspiring to me. If I hadn’t have gone to that show I might not be talking to you.

That’s a really nice Easter egg there.

But yeah I thought that was funny that one person would be dictating and then you would cut to the other person reading it, and as he was being asked to shut up (laughs).

And then of course Sally is meeting on a new project at Banshee. And the way that scene plays out, Vanessa Bayer is the absolute perfect person to play that scene.

Yeah. Morgan Dawn Cherry is her name.

How do you even write that? How does that scene get written and then how did you go about directing the actresses? Because it’s incredibly funny.

Well, you write it with sound effects. And then we all got with Vanessa and I should say, that scene was cut in half, because it was very evident in the first cut that a little went a long way. Where you’re just, “Ah, I get it. I get it, we can move on. I got the joke.” And so initially Sally started doing it. The scene initially ended with them going, “I don’t know Sally, what do you think?” It was kind of corny. All my fault by the way. And so then we just got together and then we just started doing stuff, and then I think Vanessa Bayer came up with that sound, that was her. You just run it like a scene and then you throw things out and try it. It’s hard to explain.

Okay, let’s talk about the chase. It’s incredible. To start off, what was the inspiration for this? Were you deliberately wanting to do a chase sequence, did it start with a story point?

I think it came really from driving in Los Angeles and being in traffic and having those motorcycles split lanes. And it freaks me out every time they do that. It’s in the pilot. Barry’s in the pilot and the two motorcycles go either side of him. So I think it was that. And just thinking, it’d be really interesting to do a chase sequence. I like a good chase sequence. I love “Road Warrior” and Mad Max” and those things. “Mad Max: Fury Road,” I think I’ve seen that a dozen times. But it was kind of going, yeah, I’ve seen that before, let’s try it this way and see how it works. In retrospect, you go back and go, oh yeah, there’s some Jacques Tati stuff that I like, and Roy Andersson and Alfonso Cuarón. It’s all in there. But it’s not that I was watching those movies while we were designing it. It’s just, you watch things enough that it just gets locked in your head, and you think, oh, I enjoy this. It’s the same thing with acting, where I’ll watch a performance, and especially stuff I did on “Saturday Night Live,” and I go, oh, that’s Phil Hartman. That’s Dana Carvey.

But yeah, that scene I really, really liked. I was happy. I think the impetus of it was doing a chase scene, but not making it feel genre, not making it too actiony. Actually do a chase scene where you’re removed from the action and almost a bit… I don’t know what the word is. It’s a bit how we did the fight stuff in “ronny/lily,” where it wasn’t so much action, it’s almost, you’re judging it. Get it from the point of view of someone going, “What are you guys doing?”

When Barry’s in the car, how do you decide where you place the camera? Because in the back seat we can see the bikes coming through the rear view mirror. And then the other position is on the hood of the car looking back. Is that instinctual for you?

Well, the first thing we did with that sequence was a big animatic previs. And so we did a previs, where it was during COVID and I explained everything using staplers and my cell phone and whatever objects they had in my office to explain the shots to Laura Hill and Justin Ball, the visual effects supervisors, and just said, this is what it’ll look like. And it’s pretty much what you see. There was a sequence I cut out of it, where they went into a Mail Boxes Etc., where the motorcycles went through like a Kinko’s or something. That was very short-lived. I took that out. But for the most part it’s exactly as originally designed. And the end thing wasn’t at a car dealership, it was at a diner initially. We couldn’t find a good diner. And then a car dealership actually worked better, because of the windows. But I think it was just planning it shot for shot, how you see it.

And in that shot you’re talking about, where the car gets hit in the rear-view mirror, that’s a composite shot. We shot one version of it with the mirror and then just me reacting to nothing and then shot a plate, we did a shot of the motorcyclist coming around, from the car point of view. And then we had a dummy that a truck hit. And then we put it all together. It was the same thing when the guy flies through the windshield. It’s a composite of about four or five shots.

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I love the reveal that he is now riding the motorbike, but it’s not very fast.

No, he hit it with his car, and so it’s ruined (laughs).

And he’s being very polite. He stops at the red light. He’s got his beignets with him.

He’s singing a song. He’s gotta get on with his day.

What is that song by the way?

I just made that up on one take. I have no idea. We were doing that take of me driving up and stopping at the stop sign when they approached me, and on one take I just started singing that. And then when we were in post, I decided, oh he should be singing that throughout. He’s trying to just sing that song. He’s really excited about seeing his old friends. Again the consequences keep interrupting, and he’s just avoiding the consequences. That’s the idea, really, behind that.

When did you decide you didn’t want to have score and you wanted to score it with sound design?

Very early. That was always part of it. I remember telling Matt, our sound designer, that the sequence is all you, get ready. And they went out and recorded motorcycles out in the desert. They did tons of work recording all that stuff.

It’s great. And when he’s whizzing past all the cars, I love that sound.

Oh yeah. I don’t know if that happens, by the way, because I’ve never been on a motorcycle and I wouldn’t lane split like that. But I thought it would be interesting if the sound changed, like the wind through a tunnel.

Well it ratchets up the tension. Again the sound design is the score for the sequence.

Yeah exactly, just to keep the tension open. And to the point that when you see Shane Taylor coming out of the moon roof with the gun, it’s funny. But at the same time, like “Road Warrior,” the minute it would stop for a second, you would go, ah, you’d breathe the minute it was quiet and you weren’t moving.

And then he does the hand-off.

(Laughs) So Anthony [Molinari], the guy who plays that character, is one of the nicest human beings on the planet. He’s a stunt man. He is in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” as the guy whose head turns to glitter. And he’s in “ronny/lily” as the guy at the grocery store stocking chips and then Ronny ends up headbutting him (laughs). So Wade Allen, our stunt coordinator, had him come back, and he is a beautiful human being. And it’s so funny that he is playing one of the worst people on earth.

But we did a lot of different alts instead of “hand off.” One time he just made a noise when he held the gun out. Or one time I think he yelled, “Here!” And then he said, “Yo hand-off.” He just did it once. That’s the one time he did it. We started laughing so hard. And then the other guy goes, “What?” They’d never worked this out. This is not a thing that they’ve worked out, ever talked about once. And it’s funny, as initially written, he did hand-off the gun. And the guy was shooting with the gun on the motorcycle. Then when we were doing the previs, I saw that, and I said hey, you know what would be funnier? Is if he just fully misses it and he crashes. And that shot when he crashes is very much inspired by “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” when the Hell Angels put him on the motorcycle and Pee-wee goes off in the distance and he just runs through that sign (laughs). That was the idea, that guy crashes.

I like how the shot lingers, you’re not going to cut to the crash or cut to Barry.

(Laughs) It’s just like, “How dumb are you that you thought that was gonna work?” And Clay, the guy who did that stunt, he owns the bike ranch where they’re at in Episode 5 where Fuches approaches them and you see them all flying all over the place. That’s his facility. And he did that stunt and it was pretty amazing.

Then it goes to the used car lot, and you have the used car salesman who’s so funny.

That guy’s a wonderful. He was very sweet and incredibly funny.

I like how he says, “Not today.”

Yeah suggesting that this might have happened before. He sees someone on a motorcycle on top of his car lot and just, “Not today, no f–king way.” And then those actors were great, who came out and “Kleintop” is an ode to Gavin Kleintop our AD, who I really can’t do anything I do without him. “ronny/lily,” everything I do when I’m a director, Gavin is massive. And he’s a USC film grad, totally gets it, loves it. He’s the guy that when I’m feeling insecure or I don’t think we’ve got it, he’s like, “No, let’s go again, let’s go again.” And he’s so positive, and just one of my favorite people. So that’s a big ode to Gavin.

That’s nice, because I imagine the sequence was even more challenging in that you wanted to transition from day to night throughout.

That was really hard. Carl Herse, our DP, was very concerned about that. When they get on top, we have to be able to see inside the used car lot, but also be able to see outside. And he said, “So this is a magic hour? Is the whole thing at magic hour?” And I said, “No, by the time I get to the car lot it’s magic hour.” And to a DP that just makes their head explode (laughs). Because that means you’re you having to track that the sun’s going down slightly as the sequence progresses. But what you see in that shot is, we did, I want to say 14 takes of it. I want to say at 6:30 we started doing it and then the sun went down at 7:15. And so we just started doing it over and over and over again, quick, back to one, back to one. And you’re seeing the last take. That’s the very last take. And that one worked. There was a couple of takes that were usable, but that one, the timing, everything was just perfect.

And because it plays out in a wide you don’t have any coverage to hide.

Zero coverage to hide anything. The only thing with VFX in that is the gun shots, everything getting shot up inside. Those are VFX. The car going down, that’s special effects. That actually happened on the day. And there was stuff popping off in there. But VFX, they were able to really goose that up and make it look really great.

On the highway sequence, I know some of the cars are probably VFX, but what was practically there when you guys were shooting the chase on the highway?

Most of the cars you’re seeing are practical. The cars on the other lane, going the other way on the freeway, those are digital. Because we couldn’t have both lanes closed with our cars on them. And there’s a couple of VFX pace cars in there to keep things moving. But that truck that almost hits him when he gets under the freeway, that’s real. Those are stunt drivers and it’s all worked out ahead of time.

So when you got to the end of it all, is it what you envisioned, what you were planning?

Yeah. Pretty much exactly (laughs). It sounds silly to say this, but it’s pretty much exactly what I hoped it would be. There’s only one shot that didn’t come out the way I thought it would, which was when Barry initially started lane splitting, the camera was behind him. So you’re behind him and then he would go lane splitting. And that shot just didn’t have the power that I thought it would have. The power really came when you were pulling him, when the camera was in front of him, and Barry’s pulling him through it. Those are the ones when we were in the edit, everybody went, whoa. There was something about seeing it coming that I thought would be really exciting. And then when we put it together, it didn’t have the effect. So outside of that, it’s pretty much exactly as I thought it should look. And that’s what I pitched to everyone who saw it.

And what was their reaction when you pitched it?

“Wait, you want to do what?” (laughs). Jonathan Jansen our locations manager had to go out and secure Pasadena Freeway for three Sundays, from 7:00 AM till noon, for us to do all that. And so we would get out there at 5:30 and we’re just waiting and then the minute the signs would go up, we were on the freeway shooting within 15 minutes. We had five hours for three Sundays. And the first day was all the lane splitting stuff. That was one day. Second day, second Sunday, was me getting onto the freeway. And then the third Sunday was the hand-off. So the minute the camera tracks up and you’re with Anthony getting out with the machine gun. That’s the third Sunday. That’s him, hand-off and then the crash. So it was a lot of work and very hard for everyone. And that’s all in Pasadena. And then when Barry gets off the freeway and the piece of motorcycle falls off, he takes a left and goes down, and then when it cuts to him turning onto another street, that’s by the car dealership. When he turns onto that street, now we’re in Torrance. So, that is the other side of town. And that’s where the car dealership is.

Something I really admire about your filmmaking approach is there’s not a lot of coverage, you have these really composed shots. And I think that translates to the action filmmaking that you’ve displayed here and also in “ronny/lily.” I know you’ve talked before about how that comes from your love of watching classic films. But I was wondering if you consciously think about that when you’re composing these action sequences.

Oh, thank you. You just have it in your head, this is how it should go. And I don’t know how else to explain it. You watch a ton of movies your whole life. This might sound really lame, but I think I have friends who are really good at telling jokes. They can just tell jokes — John Mulaney, Seth Meyers. These are people who just have a natural ability to see the structure and come up with a perfect joke. And just riffing, just hanging out with them, they talk in jokes. I’ve never been able to do that. I don’t know how you do that. But I do think since I was very young, because I watched a lot of movies, I was always thinking of shots. Always thinking of camera angles. When I’m writing I’m thinking in terms of, “Oh, it would go from this shot to then this shot, and then over here to this,” and that would tell the story visually. So I think that’s always been something that has been helpful.

And it’s not to denigrate coverage or a lot of cuts. There are a million cuts in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and it’s a masterpiece. But it’s about how are you telling the story effectively? And I think the way you tell stories is just really striking and effective.

Yeah, I’m not really into, at least in these sequences, “Barry” having insert shots. If I can get by without having an insert shot, I am very happy. And I think that’s really helpful. Just knowing that you go from this, to this shot and to this shot and now you move over to that shot. I personally never liked it when I’m watching a thing, I can tell it’s coverage. That they covered it and the editor is putting it together, and what I’m seeing is built in the edit.

I like things where – and I do feel it’s a very old-fashioned way of making movies, TV, is you pre-visualize it. But at the same time, if you stick directly to the storyboards or whatever, it won’t have life to it. So I’ve seen those movies too, where you go, “Wow, these are all the storyboards.” So it still has to live. So to me, people go, “Oh, the Coens storyboard everything,” but I don’t think they look at the storyboards.

No. I think they’ve said that, they stop looking at them once they start shooting.

Yeah. You just do it. But then I would say there’s some big action movies that you can look at and go, “Oh, this is heavily storyboarded. And these are the boards brought to life.” It doesn’t make for a bad movie, but now I feel I can feel it. I think what’s nice about it when it’s funny, is that to be funny there has to be a pulse to it, and something where you’re feeling it from someone’s point of view. One of my favorite commentary tracks is the “Taxi Driver” one with Martin Scorsese. And when you listen to that, you go, “Oh, all these shots were storyboarded and thought out, but it doesn’t feel like that.” It was pre-visualized because of the amount of time they had. But it feels, because of the performances, that it’s balanced. It’s not hypercontrolled. When you see something like “A Serious Man,” you can feel that the Coen brothers let go of the reins a bit and they’re letting actors do their thing. It’s all about just telling a story.

So I don’t know. I really love that stuff. And it’s a very long-winded way of saying I think visually. That’s why I was not very good at writing sketches at “SNL,” because I would say, “Oh, Vincent Price, what about this visual gag or this thing or whatever?” But it never really translated. What translated was that it was more like an attitude.

It sounds similar to the Spielberg editing in his head as he’s shooting, kind of thing.

Yeah, exactly. Because he’s talked about this too of, and I know the Coens have, and other people, is that you would edit in camera when you were shooting as a kid. And I remember having a video camera and I didn’t know you could edit VCR to VCR. So all of my short films were just “Evil Dead” spin-offs with my sisters running around, being chased by the camera. But it’d be, you get this shot of your sister. My sister Kara coming out of the house and then I would run far away to get the wide of the house. And I would run back to the exact same shot of her close up and then she would look, and then I would run over to this area. And you would learn to think that way. And what helps you is with the geography of where everything’s at.

In the motorcycle chase, people were throwing out shots that would’ve been cool, in the way the “Fast and the Furious” thing is cool, and I just didn’t want that. I even showed it to a big director and he said, “You just keep going to the same sizes of the motorcyclist. It’d be nice if maybe you could go in the edit, you can digitally do a close-up, just to break up, so you cut at different sizes.” And I was like, “Yeah, I think them being the same size is funny to me.” It’s weird and funny to me.

Well it’s the same like the Beignets by Mitch thing, you’re matching the shots.

Yeah. I don’t know what that is, why I find that funny. It’s intuitive. But when you’re cutting in between them… It’s like “Star Wars.” Remember when it would cut to the people in the cockpit in “Star Wars,” it was always the same shot. So it probably comes a little bit from that. But it’s funny to me.

Alright so at the end of the episode, Chris’ wife poisons Barry. How early did you hit upon that plot point?

That was something that was always there. I remember just thinking, “Oh yeah, he should go to Sharon and Sharon poisons him.” And it was always a reveal. I think it just always came out that way. Because when we said, “Oh, vengeance army, who are the people he’s killed?” And one of the people was Chris. So it was like okay, so Sharon, how would she get back at him? And what is her feeling when she poisons him? It would be a nice surprise. It was more just how do you get across the information that Fuches has been there? And to be honest, that’s where we came up with the red card, was specifically for that scene. So we ended up working backwards from this. Oh, what if he sees a thing that’s Ken Goulet, and Barry knows that’s Fuches’ pseudonym. And then the nice thing is that forever, it was guacamole. Forever, even in the previs, Barry has guacamole. So he was bringing guacamole over, his guacamole for the chips. But then when we came up with Mitch, that’s what he has with him. And she poisons it. So then you have to have a sauce with it. That ended up working well.

I did not see that coming at all.

You know what the big problem with that one was, was a lot of talk about where that card was. These are the questions that you get into, where Barry’s looking at his cell phone, he puts his cell phone down and there’s that card and everybody went, “How did he miss that?” And I said, “Oh, well she just put it there.” So like, “What, she’s diabolic?” And I went, “Or he missed it. I don’t know.” He’s looking at this and he brings his head down and there’s the card. And then we tried to hide it, that it was in a bunch of mail that was on the table. And we said, but she’s making this dinner. I see a bunch of mail, now it’s really calling it out. It just looks weird. So that reveal was a thing that we just had to accept, that it was going to be just what it is.

That was the issue was how did he not see that when he sat down? And I was like, well, maybe it was there and he’s just not paying attention because he’s on his phone. And it became this whole thing in the edit about, well then we need to see that he’s on his phone and he sits down and he’s not looking at the table and all this. You can get into a place, especially a show like this, where you do a lot of legwork essentially to tell the audience, hey, we thought of that, we’re not dumb. And what I’ve learned is the audience doesn’t really care. If people are into the story and into the emotion of the story, they will go with you to something that small. Now, if it’s something really silly, we all know what that feels like. You go, wait, now characters are doing something for the purpose of a plot. As opposed to what they would actually do. And that doesn’t really work.

It’s a heck of a cliffhanger.

Well, the next two episodes are very intense, especially the last one. This is kind of the last, just, “fun time with Barry.” Everything after this starts to get really dark.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

“Barry” airs Sunday nights on HBO.