Bill Hader’s 12 Best Characters Ranked, From Stefon to Vincent Price (Photos)
Hader’s new series “Barry” premieres on HBO Sunday, March 25
Brian Welk | March 25, 2018 @ 9:15 AM
Last Updated: March 25, 2018 @ 9:20 AM
Bill Hader’s gift is that he’s better at impersonating oddballs, like late horror icon Vincent Price and politico James Carville, than doing another Schwarzenegger. He’s a deep movie buff (have you seen IFC's “Documentary Now!”), obsessed with corny TV (his kooky interviewer Vinny Vedecci on "SNL"), and he can play either the love interest to Amy Schumer (“Trainwreck”) or a total creeper ("Dateline"'s Keith Morrison, another "SNL" role). That mix of relatable and weird makes him perfect to play “Barry,” a Midwestern assassin who has a change of heart to become an actor. Ahead of the show’s premiere on HBO this Sunday, TheWrap has ranked his best characters, from good to great.
12. Vincent Price
Hader’s Price is likely as good as anyone’s (though he told Marc Maron on "WTF" that he was inspired by stand-up comedian Dana Gould), but “SNL” never really knew what to do with it. He looks hilarious with a perpetually arched eyebrow and an obviously stuffed crow sitting on his shoulder, but then the rest of the cast could never do Old Hollywood figures as well as he could.
11. Herb Welch
The real joke of Hader’s absent minded, curmudgeonly reporter Herb Welch is how he hits everyone in the mouth with the microphone. Hader makes it seem involuntary. It gets old, especially when each sketch ends with Welch sprouting back to life, but they’re worth it just to see Welch find a new way to berate Jason Sudeikis.
10. Lindsey Buckingham
All he ever did during Kenan Thompson’s “What Up With That” sketches was sit there, wave, nod and smile as the "Fleetwood Mac" guitarist-singer. It produced plenty of choice gifs, so we’re glad he’s such a good sport.
“It’s pronounced Berdman.” “Bidmen.” “Bi-mn.” This hilarious mystical Aussie is weird even by “Portlandia” standards.
8. Vinny Vedecci
As Pete Holmes once joked, doing a thick Italian accent is literally the last socially tolerated stereotype. But, of course, Vinny Vedecci isn’t just Hader doing an accent. He’s brimming with charm even as he smokes a thousand cigarettes and condescends to everyone from Robert De Niro to Seth Rogen.
7. Anthony Scaramucci
Hader was destined to play Scaramucci. His over-the-top New Yorker isn’t really an “impression,” but Hader is a better Mooch than even The Mooch himself.
6. Parker Gail
Hader gives a masterclass performance in this pitch-perfect homage to Spalding Gray during an episode of “Documentary Now!” Hader’s one-man-show might be more captivating than funny, but there aren’t many comedic actors who can show this much dynamic range.
5. James Carville
It’s hard to top James Carville doing his “cajun style” self on “30 Rock,” but Hader nails the political commentator's exaggerated sniggering and was crazy enough that the writers could sneak in some pretty ruthless Rush Limbaugh fat jokes. He takes this character one step further when he does a version of Carville in a great "Documentary Now" parody of "The War Room."
4. Jerry Wallach
Hader first experimented with this character as “The President of Hollywood” during the Comedy Central Roast of James Franco. His baritone glad-handing in a bright red ‘80s track suit killed. So he brought a version of it back for the Season 2 finale of “Documentary Now!” It goes to show how lived-in and complex each of Hader’s characters are. It’s not a send up of one person in particular (namely producer Robert Evans) but feels like a portrait of every cliche Hollywood producer this industry has known for decades.
3. Keith Morrison
What a hilarious creep Hader’s Keith Morrison is on "Saturday Night Live." His sinister smile, his scintillating oohing and aahing; it’s a wonderful way of satirizing the idea that some people get sadistic pleasure from their own trash TV.
Somehow Hader found a way to make his face in these sketches especially flat, dumb and downright punchable. He has more fun contorting his West Coast accent to inscrutable pitches than anyone. (And yes, I can attest, it takes an astonishingly short amount time in Los Angeles before one becomes a human version of the Waze app, exaggerated SoCal accent or not.)
Yes yes yes yes yes. The genius of Stefon can’t be summed up with one thing. He’s got everything: the ridiculous green shirt, the sexually explicit puns, the absurd clubs named after nonsense words, those gleefully offensive things he does to “midgets” (his word, not ours). Most “Weekend Update” characters just have ONE joke good enough to run into the ground. Stefon’s been back more than a dozen times and always finds new, inappropriate nightlife recommendations. He’s a complex enough character that you can imagine him getting married to Seth Meyers. Stefon’s hands over his mouth may just be to hide Hader’s giggling, but it’s made Stefon forever endearing.