Bill Hader’s new HBO series “Barry” is a departure from his sketch comedy work on “Saturday Night Live,” but the actor says it might be a better fit.
“I get kind of anxious, especially when I’m in front of a big group of people,” Hader told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman in an interview ahead of the show’s premiere at SXSW. “I had this ability to do impressions and voices and stuff like that. And if you have that ability, the height of that is to be on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ which changed my life. But the irony was that doing the show was really hard for me because I had a lot of anxiety doing it.”
Hader said doing the show, with its grueling schedule and the added pressure of performing live, took a toll on “physically and mentally” — a difficult truth to accept about what should’ve been his dream job, the “crown jewel” of his career.
“I see it when I watch my performances because I want to cover my face, or I’m always [hunched over] when I talk,” he said. “Your adrenaline’s pumping, and once I would kind of relax it would get better. But, yeah, it was terrible.”
But Hader found ways to cope with the stress and anxiety, including transcendental meditation and an unusual prescription from a medical professional: “I actually had a doctor say, ‘You should drink.'”
Ultimately, it was leaving “Saturday Night Live” in 2013 and now finding a new project that has relieved Hader of his anxiety.
“I’m not like that when we’re shooting. I’m kind of relaxed,” he said, an assessment confirmed by “Barry” co-creator Alec Berg.
“Barry” has been hailed by critics as a sharp showcase for both Hader’s comedic and dramatic abilities, but the actor still questions whether fans from his “SNL” days will buy in.
“I think because I’m in it, they think it’s going to be this sketch-type, goofy show, and I think it’s not,” he said. “Hopefully we’re trying to show a guy who’s trying to better himself but he’s in a very dark place.”