After achieving early superstardom with “Happy Days,” Henry Winkler established his identity as a versatile character actor in transformative comedies like “Arrested Development” and “Children’s Hospital.” However, it was his acclaimed role as the disgraced acting coach Gene Cousineau in “Barry” that brought him the greatest leading role success of his career, earning him a Primetime Emmy in 2018 and subsequent nominations for the show’s three following seasons.
In a recent interview on “Sunday Today with Willie Geist,” Winkler reflected on the success he found during “Barry,” which not only won him a Primetime Emmy but also garnered nominations for the subsequent three seasons. He revealed that working with a psychiatrist before the show started helped him delve deep into the emotions necessary for that role.
Winkler talked about his therapeutic experience, saying, “I couldn’t have done ‘Barry’ without seeing that doctor.” “I could not have given the character that kind of nuance. I could not have listened to Alec Berg and Bill Hader, and without him, what he said could not be translated into the scenes. If I hadn’t done what I was doing with him before, I wouldn’t have gotten a character, I would have been stopped as an actor. There are shows that I want to eat, and I can do them again if I want to.”
Winkler praised the entire creative team behind “Barry,” including co-producers and creators Bill Hader and Alec Berg. He explained that his commitment to telling a story with a unique perspective helped elevate the HBO series above shows with promising premises that, despite having a favorable setting, often fail.
He said, “It was a very original show, and it had a perspective.” “When you watch a show that is poorly written, the writers have a good idea, but there is no commitment, there is no passion to tell that story.”
Winkler’s comments about Hader echo the emotions he expressed previously when he commended the actor for his clear vision. These remarks resonate with the sentiments he shared when he praised Hader for directing Season 4 with a clear vision, showcasing admiration for the actor’s ability to serve as both a director and writer.
“I truly believe that someone needs a director,” Winkler said. “An actor who says, ‘I don’t need direction,’ I think he works with only half his power. Bill is very clear about what he hears and what he wants. And your job is to try to serve the writers, try to serve the director’s vision, try to serve the creators. Now you have found three in one person. He is very clear, and there is freedom in structure.”