[Editor’s note: This interview contains spoilers from last night’s season three premiere of Barry.]
Barry is back with season three, and NoHo Hank is still stealing the show. HBO’s beloved dramedy series about a depressed hitman-turned-aspiring actor returned on Sunday with a season three premiere episode packed with jaw-dropping reveals and nerve-shattering fake-outs. (Seriously, those sniper hallucinations?) Amidst the sensational chaos came the revelatory development that fan favorite and “super nice guy” NoHo Hank, played by the ever-charming Anthony Carrigan, had for-real coupled up with Bolivian mobster Cristobal Sifuentes (Michael Irby) between seasons two and three.
After screaming about what we’re dubbing right here and right now “Hankobal” in private, we screamed again with the man himself. Carrigan talked with The AV Club about NoHo Hank’s blossoming romance with Cristobal, his crumbling partnership with Barry (Bill Hader), and the “intense” road ahead.
Watch parts — or read all — of our conversation below.
The AV Club: It has been three very long years since Barry season two. What’s it like to finally be back?
Anthony Carrigan: Honestly, coming back to it, I’m still just bursting with gratitude. It was a long time away from it. We actually did the first table read just a couple of days before we all shut down [in March 2020]. You know, back when it was just like “the two weeks.” Remember? “Two weeks! We’re going to lock it down for two whole weeks. ” [Laughs]
So we had our first table read and then suddenly we weren’t going anymore. So all of that time at home was spent just waiting and waiting and waiting to get back into it. As soon as we did, it was just immediately like a breath of fresh air. I didn’t take a single moment for granted when I was on that set.
AVC: The episode “forgiving jeff” is such a fun premiere and it very much brings that joyous energy. But regrettably, it is a big change for fans of Barry and NoHo Hank’s friendship. Tell me about that turn, when we first see Hank really angry with Barry at the start of season three.
NEEDLE: Hank, up to this point, has been kind of an unsinkable optimist, right? He’s just always chipper and cheery and very polite. But I think that can only happen so much until you get burned — especially by someone you care about and someone you consider to be a friend. And when that happens, it makes sense that you’d be like, “Hang on, wait a minute.” With forgiveness, you don’t just get to apologize and have that be that. You actually have to earn it. That’s a big theme for this season. You can’t just kind of automatically say something and have it all go away. You actually have to do the work.
AVC: As Hank’s moving away from Barry, he’s getting closer to someone else. What can you tell me about Hank and Cristobal’s season-three romance?
NEEDLE: What can I say about that? I’m just so grateful that my character has been given this opportunity. You get to see what Hank is like behind closed doors [in season three]. You get to see what Hank is like in this new dynamic. And there’s just a different side of him, which as an actor is so wonderful to be able to flesh out this other aspect, this other more intimate side of him. Specifically getting to work more with Michael Irby as Cristobal, he’s just such an incredible, generous performer. He and I have an amazing banter on set. We’ve just been just hamming it up and having the best time.
AVC: Fans have been “shipping” Cristobal and Hank for a very long time. What reactions are you the most excited to see after Sunday? Fan art? Live tweeting?
NEEDLE: I’m open to any and all of it! Y’all want to write like a fanfic novel? Sure, I’m here for it. [Laughs] Honestly, Barry fans are just so cool. It’s my favorite part to do all this stuff. You work so hard, you really try to bring a compelling story to life and then you see the fans and how much joy they’ve gotten from it. It really makes it all worthwhile. You have so much fun doing it on set and having a blast, but then getting to actually share it with people is the coolest.
AVC: In the realm of fan fiction, what’s an ideal date night for Cristobal and Hank?
NEEDLE: Oh, wow. Oh my goodness. Ideal date night? I’m going to say it’s probably going to be kind of splitting [the night] with something that Hank would want to do and something that Cristobal would want to do, you know? I think Hank would probably want to go play laser tag, most likely, something like that. Dave and Buster’s. [Laughs] Then Cristobal would probably want to finish it off with actually like a nice dinner, you know what I mean? There’s like far too many carbs, far too many fried food options at Dave and Buster’s. So it’s like, “Let’s class it up a little bit.”
AVC: What challenges should we expect for Cristobal and Hank going forward?
NEEDLE: Well, I think by the very nature of the business that they’re in, it’s just dangerous ground. They are trying so hard to ultimately get what they want and keep it, right? I think that’s a big theme this season. Once you get something, how can you hold on to it — and to what lengths are you willing to go to hold on to it? Viewers will definitely see that it ramps up and gets super intense.
AVC: If the theme of season three is forgiveness, does Hank need forgiveness for anything?
NEEDLE: Probably. [Laughs] I mean, just, yes. He probably does. But, I don’t know, because I’ve got a soft spot for Hank in my heart I think [that theme] pertains more to… you know, people need to start treating Hank with more respect because Hank deserves it. He is such a kind [person], and he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he’s really trusting. But if you step on him and rub him the wrong way, then yeah, there’s going to be consequences.
AVC: Heading into the rest of the season, if you could give Hank one piece of advice, what would you tell him?
NEEDLE: Oh boy. [Laughs] I would probably say just, “Oh, Hank, oh, poor, poor, poor, sweet, Hank. Dance your way right on through it. It’s going to get tough at times, but just keep your head above water. ”