LOS ANGELES: For one of the funniest men in the United States, Bill Hader is definitely attracted to the dark.
Critics agree that the former student of “Saturday Night Live” steals the show in the blockbuster horror hit “It: Chapter 2”, this Friday, while his acclaimed HBO comedy “Barry” is destined to win several Emmy awards once again next month.
In both, the star in demand directs the mood quickly from terrifying brutality to hilarity and vice versa, often several times within a single scene.
“I’ve always been very interested in violence … the violence inherent in people, which is something that ‘Barry’ is about,” says Hader, who created and co-wrote the show, in addition to directing several episodes.
“It’s about a guy who says: ‘Well, I can leave this’ and he realizes ‘Oh, no, this is in me, and maybe it’s in most people.'”
His second season, which won a whopping 17 Emmy nominations, follows Barry’s attempt to exchange contract killings to issue calls, an ambition constantly frustrated by his own internal turmoil and a variety of gangsters bigger than life.
“You have to have some lightness because that’s life,” says Hader.
“If you don’t have humor, I don’t think it’s very realistic, because life is so much fun, you know? Life doesn’t make much sense.”
It’s a lesson Hader learned when he was a teenager in Oklahoma when he had a serious car accident, but he remembers laughing with his sister on the way to the hospital.
“I was 16 years old, we crossed a fence and crashed into a tree, and turned around … I did something to his foot and hurt my neck,” Hader said.
“And then this drunk boy who was walking home started directing traffic around us, he was super surreal … He yelled at people and then, when the police arrived, he ran.”
“On the way to the hospital, my sister and I were like, ‘Who the hell was that guy?'”
- a mask –
Those intense contradictions underline much of Hader’s career. As a very popular cast member for eight years on “SNL,” he suffered severe anxiety live in the air, even when he reduced the audience to stitches.
But in “It: Chapter 2,” Hader, a longtime Stephen King fan, enjoyed flexing his dramatic muscles and causing a lot of laughs.
His character, Richie Tozier, who speaks rubbish, is struggling with a secret that hints at his repressed homosexuality, something he seeks to divert by joking regularly.
“I liked that Andy and I talked about giving the character something to play … everything is a kind of mask,” says Hader, referring to director Andy Muschietti.
In a separate interview with AFP, Muschietti praised Hader’s “phenomenal” performance, while describing him as “one of the funniest types on Earth.”
But Hader says he wants to focus more on his direction and writing in the future, and that writing in the third season of “Barry” will begin later this month.