How ‘SNL’ Inspired Bill Hader’s New HBO Series ‘Barry’ & Why It’s Not Shot In Cleveland

Michael Buckner/Deadline/Rex

When it came to creating a half hour comedy series about a hitman who finds himself in Hollywood and gets caught up in the theatre arts scene, Bill Hader didn’t draw from his experiences as a burgeoning sketch actor at the local Second City, rather from his time at Saturday Night Live. 

How can his new HBO show Barrywhich premieres tonight at 10:30AM ET/PT, possibly be connected to his tenure at 30 Rock?

Hader’s bedrocks were literally the paranoia and anxiety he grappled with while being a comedy dynamo on the late-night show.

“For the first four years there, you think you’re going to be fired at any moment,” Hader told us at SXSW, “It was this feeling of wanting that community and to fit into that community.”

Hader’s ease of fitting in was his gift for impressions, which he says “I kind of took for granted.” But the minute he had to perform live in front of America and that camera red light turned on, it jumped the SNL player’s anxiety to another level (No, he didn’t kill anyone in the end). After being paired with Silicon Valley EP Alec Berg via HBO and their agents at UTA, the two conjured up the following from Hader’s angst: “A story about a marine who has this training and he’s using it for the wrong thing, and he kind of knows it’s wrong, and trying to have a life after. It’s kind of a guy who, the thing he’s good at is killing people, and it’s about him learning to have a life,” says the actor.

Hader’s Barry, a former marine, comes to Tinseltown via the flyover states.

Says Berg, “Initially when we started talking about the show, we talked about setting it in Cleveland, and then we realized if we were actually going to make a TV series set in Cleveland, we’d probably have to go to Cleveland.”

And for Berg and Hader, there was nothing hot about Cleveland.

“We live in Los Angeles,” says Hader, “we both have kids and stuff. Hey, what if he comes to LA? That’s good for the story!”

This article was printed from