One of the most popular reaction GIFs today is a shot of Bill Hader playing Dateline star Keith Morrison in a Saturday Night Live sketch from 2011. The Barry star has long been a fan of true crime television and has never skipped a chance to do his Morrison impression or his impressions of other genre luminaries. The thing is, despite their both having worked for NBC, they’ve never actually met in person. Or, at least that was the case until The Today Show‘s Willie Geist introduced the pair as a surprise to Hader.
On Thursday, the program previewed Geist’s interview with Hader for this weekend’s edition of Sunday Today. The interview itself will cover the whole of the comedian turned showrunner’s career, of course, but it wouldn’t have been much of an NBC affair without tossing Morrison into the mix. So, as a surprise to Hader, Geist arranged a chance for him to sit in on a voiceover recording session for Dateline… and that’s when the magic happened.
“I can’t give him pointers, he’s the master,” the SNL vet said of listening to Morrison work. “I don’t know you get better than Keith Morrison. I knew he was gonna be here!” Both men have spoken about the SNL impression on separate occasions, but now that they’ve met, it’ll be fun to see what tips and tricks they share with each other on Sunday. If you’ve never seen the infamous sketch, “Dateline: The Mystery of the Chopped Up Guy,” then make sure you check it out below.
Last Monday, Bill Hader wrapped post-production on the season two finale of Barry, got into his car, and said to himself, “Now what do I do?” One hopes that the show’s co-creator/writer/sometimes director/and star who is also set to co-star in It: Chapter 2 takes some time to bask in the glory of a creation that has continued to generate buzz about it being among the best shows on television. But as Hader confided when we spoke about the show’s season two finale which you should watch before reading this interview, he’s not quite sure where Barry Berkman goes from here after the assassin turned actor went full berserker. And he seems pretty cool letting the process play out in an organic way.
Uproxx spoke with Hader about that, the big choices that lead to those stunning and potentially series-altering moments, writing himself into a corner, and trying not to repeat himself.
How are you taking this praise that you’ve been getting for this show? I’ve seen a lot of critics that are saying this is the best show on television. I’ve seen Guillermo Del Toro praise you as a director after episode five.
I mean, it’s all awesome and flattering. I’ve been through the thing, where everyone is really happy with you and then it tapers off. It’s all kind of like a rollercoaster ride. So what keeps you sane is just focusing on the work and making sure that you’re telling the story that you want to tell. But it’s very nice. I had a bunch of friends send me that Guillermo Del Toro tweet, and I was like, “Oh, my God. That’s huge.” That was really nice.
This season’s fifth episode, “Ronny/Lily,” was such an interesting change of pace. Is that something you want to have the freedom to do again?
Yeah, if it makes sense to the story. I directed the finale and you’re wrapping up so many stories. So, like, when you’re trying to get a nice interesting tone and pace for the episode, it’s harder because you’re having to make sure all these stories are kind of being wrapped up or changed in a big way since it’s the end of season, so it’s always bit trickier. Whereas in an episode like “Ronny/Lily,” episode five, it’s actually kind of nice as its own weird contained thing.
She’s not a supernatural kind of creation, but there’s some abnormality there. What was behind the choice to toe that line a little bit?
I don’t know. It’s just like an instinct. It’s like, “Oh, it’s really funny if she could fly around the room and sort of attack him in this kind of way.” And, I dunno, it was just making us laugh and it just felt right. It didn’t feel like we were jumping the shark. Then we were like, maybe we are jumping the shark, I dunno? [Laughs]
The scene with Fuches at the end screaming “What are you?!” is probably the hardest laugh I had all season.
That’s Geoffrey Lewis and High Plains Drifter. I don’t know if you’ve seen High Plains Drifter, but at the end, the way Geoffrey Lewis says “Who are you!?” always made me… I just always remembered the way he said that.
Does Barry really love Sally, or is it more just the idea of what she could be for him?
Well, I think he loves her, but in his heart… I mean, in his soul, he’s like 15 years old. So it’s the way you loved a girl when you were 15 or 16. She’s like the greatest actress he’s ever seen because she’s kinda the only actress he’s ever seen. And she is a good actress. They’re kinda perfect for each other, because he can’t believe a girl like that would have anything to do with him. And she loves that this guy gives her so much attention. So it kinda works for both of them in a way. I think he really does [love her]. I don’t know how much she loves him. But he definitely is wholly in love. Like, if she broke up with him, the story ends.
EXCLUSIVE : Barry co-creator and star Bill Hader and HBO programming chief Amy Gravitt are the latest big names heading to Banff. The pair are to sit down an exclusive 'In Conversation With' session at the Banff World Media Festival.
The festival runs Jun 9 to 12 at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Saturday Night Live alum Hader co-created the HBO comedy with Alec Berg and recently concluded the second season about the show, which features a burned out assassin trying to break into the LA theater scene. Hader is also co-creator of IFC’s Documentary Now! and has starred in films including Trainwreck, Superbad, Pineapple Expressand Tropic Thunder.
Gravitt was promoted to EVP of Programming at HBO in 2016 and she is responsible for developing and overseeing the production of original comedy series. In addition to Barry, she looked after Veep, as well as Silicon Valley, Ballers, Insecure and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Her upcoming shows include Armando Iannucci's Avenue 5, The Righteous Gemstones with Danny McBride and John Goodman, Mrs. Fletcher with Tom Perrotta and Kathryn Hahn, Run with Phoebe WallerBridge and Vicky Jones and QualityLand with Mike Judge.
Elsewhere, at Banff include DreamWorks co-founder and Quibi chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and Bodyguard and Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio.
“Amy's strong, creative vision and keen intuition have helped bring some of the world's biggest and brightest comedic voices to HBO, including Bill Hader,” said Randy Lennox, Chair of the Board of Directors for Banff and President, Bell Media. “Redefining the dark comedy genre, his work on Barry is absolutely groundbreaking, and we’re proud for Crave to be the exclusive Canadian home of this acclaimed series.”