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SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE Used to Terrify Bill Hader

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE Used to Terrify Bill Hader

In the Saturday Night Live hall of fame, Bill Hader is up there as one of the all-time greats. Pretty much every character or impression he did during his tenure on NBC’s live sketch comedy series became an instant classic. But it turns out that one of the best SNL players of all time actually had a hard time on the show. Record scratch, freeze frame, say what?!

When Hader led a 2018 Winter Television Critics Association press tour panel for his new HBO dark comedy series Barry, he revealed that shocking fact when discussing how he came up with the inspiration for the show about a depressed, low-rent hitman from the Midwest who discovers his love for acting after following his mark into a Los Angeles acting class.

“That was something we talked about a lot when we first started this show, this idea that the thing you’re really good at is destroying you,” Hader says of his titular role. “He’s good at killing people, and it’s actually eating him away and he doesn’t understand that. He knows something is wrong. So then [there’s] the thing that you want to be good at, you’re terrible at. I related to that.”

Hader went on to explain that he spoke a lot about this to Barry’s co-creator Alec Berg in relation to his time as a SNL series regular.

“At Saturday Night Live, I did an okay job with the sketch stuff, but the live television aspect of it was always really hard for me,” he says. “I have a lot of anxiety. Through the whole time I was on that show, I had a really hard time with that. When I was telling Alec about that I was like, ‘Wasn’t it so weird and wouldn’t it be interesting if that was the main problem for this character?’ He had this issue where the thing he was good at, he was a prisoner of it. But conversely the thing he wants to do he’s terrible at. The bad acting thing was really just, you want to see if he’s going to get better but his enthusiasm hopefully carries him over.”

And as for his inspiration in how to play Barry being truly terrible at acting (when Hader is arguably one of the greatest), he says with a laugh, “I watched a lot of reenactments on true crime shows.”

So why does Hader clearly love to act and do comedy if he had such a hard time doing SNL? “This thing is not on live television all over the nation,” he says with a laugh. “I think that was my issue. If SNL was just like this, then I would have been really good on that show. But just having a camera go on and the red light comes on, I’m like, ‘Oh, all my friends in Oklahoma are watching me right now.'”

Hader has certainly come a long way from when he first started out in Hollywood. He revealed during the lively panel that his first few jobs in the industry weren’t for acting. “I was a PA for a long time,” he says. “I moved out here in 1999 and shared an apartment with four other guys that were all trying to get the same job. I wasn’t acting or anything like that. I was PA-ing on movies like Collateral Damage with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Scorpion King with Dwayne Johnson.”

If you think that’s the most random connection you could get in Hollywood, think again. Apparently Hader also has a surprising history with The Good Place‘s breakout star D’Arcy Carden (who also has a role in Barry).

“D’Arcy Carden, she was my nanny for, uh, ever,” Hader reveals with a laugh. “She was the nanny [for] our oldest daughter, [and] she was a working actress. And now she’s growing up and I couldn’t be more excited for her. She’s amazing.”

Images: NBC, HBO

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