Henry Winkler Talks About the Shocking Moment of Revenge in The Barry Finale!
Henry Winkler had already had a great playing career for many years before he was cast on HBO’s Barry as the sloppy, self-centered acting teacher Gene Cousineau. As Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli on the hit sitcom Happy Days in the 1970s and 1980s, he became one of the most famous people in the world, and he still gets smiles, hugs, and offers to dinner almost everywhere he goes to this day.
But as famous as Fonzie was, Cousineau has been just as important to Winkler’s career. It gave him a chance, after all this time and all this fame, to show off the range and dramatic skills that had mostly been dormant because Fonz’s leather jacket cast a long, long shadow over almost every job he took in between.
Cousineau isn’t in a lot of the series ending, but he does the most important thing: he kills Barry with the prop gun Rip Torn once gave him as revenge for the death of Gene’s girlfriend Janice Moss and for ruining the rest of Gene’s life.
Last week, Winkler talked to Rolling Stone about why he thinks Gene pulled the trigger, why he loves this part, how Bill Hader has grown as a director, and more. (Oh, and there’s a chance that this writer will have to say sorry to him for a very old mistake.)
When You Found Out How Gene’s Story Would End, How Did You Feel?
I don’t even know what to say. When I was a kid, my dad used to say, “If you’re going to be a jerk, you’re going to be a jerk.” And he was right. I went, “Sure.” He said, “You should shoot me.” [Winkler acts as if he can’t speak] Well, I’m not a guy who can’t talk. I had nothing to say. I thought, Oh my god, I would never have thought that would happen.
It’s Hard to Believe that It’s Been Ten Years Since the Last Time I Wrote Here.
I think the turning point was in Episode Seven when I was tricked into the hotel room. Mark Wahlberg wasn’t there, but the DA and Jim Moss were, and I was blamed for everything. And I think I thought to myself, That’s just too much. You know, it would be one thing if I killed the woman I love. It’s crazy to blame everything on me. And I went crazy.
Just Before Gene Kills Barry, His Agent Tom Is About to Get Barry to Turn Himself in And Clear Gene. Do You Think Gene Thought About What Would Happen After He Killed Barry?
It never occurred to me. I thought, If this is the trick they played on me, then it must have been him. And there is no way to win anymore. We’ve reached the end of the game.
If You’re Like Most People, You’ve Got a Lot Going on In Your Life. if You’re Like Me, You’ve Got a Lot Going on In Your Life. How Do You Think He Would Feel About This Movie We See at The End of The Finale, Where a Figure Based on Him and Named After Him Is the Villain of An Action Movie?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t think that’s the way he would want to become famous. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
You’ve Had an Amazing and Long Career. how Would You Rank Gene Among the Most Difficult Parts You’ve Played?
The. the Very. Again, I Think It’s Amazing that Gene Was Chosen by The Wheel of Chance. Not [fake Voice of Game Show Host] “$25,000!” Not “Your Turn Is Over!” at Gene, It Stopped. For Me, It’s a Miracle.
What Has Made It a Miracle?
What Is Written? when I Was a Kid, I Didn’t Want to Go to School. I Didn’t Want to Go to School. in Front, in Back, the People in Charge. Amy Gravitt at Hbo Was Our Fairy Godmother and Helped Us Through the Whole Process. That Crew Took Care of Me to The Very Last Detail. when Gene Was in His Situation, It Wasn’t Easy to Get Up Off the Floor. Those People Were There. They Reminded Me of A Crane.
You went to Yale. If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all, this is it. Then you became well-known as the Fonz, a great figure who is also very straightforward, heroic, and funny. Did you ever think you’d play a role like this after that?
No. But I never get to imagine myself in any of the roles I play. It’s amazing. “Wow, 50 years!” people tell me. What a profession! It’s so packed.” And I’m thinking, “I didn’t know it had to come to this.” I saw two episodes of Arrested Development. I spent five years there.
The Fonz showed me how the world worked. No matter where I go in the 126 countries, someone always asks me to dinner. “Bella Bella!” means the same thing in every language. Please do come! We’ll have dinner! My wife will do the cooking!” What an unbelievable trip! And I’m thankful for everything.
When you went to Los Angeles to get started in the business—
Commercials gave me a thousand dollars. I thought it would last me for a month. And in two weeks, I went to Paramount to try out for the role of the Fonz. Two weeks later, they called me and asked if I wanted to do it.
That’s Amazing. but Before You Got that Audition, Did You Give Much Thought to What Your Job Could Be Like or The Kinds of Parts You Wanted to Play?
No. If you can believe it, I was much more practical than that. I couldn’t stop thinking, “Am I going to work?” My representative at the time, Joan Scott, who took me on right out of graduate school, told me, “You know, it’s going to be hard to sell you.” I thought, I just made a mistake of 3,000 miles and $1,000. And I was too nervous to say, “Oooh, I’m sure of myself. If you don’t mind, I’d like to know what you think about this.
How Has It Been to See Bill’s Skills as A Director Grow and Change Over These Four Seasons?
So I know for sure that he came out here to be a director, but got sidetracked by Saturday Night Live. But when he first started out, he worked as an assistant editor on a cooking show for a friend of mine. You don’t question his idea. You know you’re holding something wonderful. You want to know about your personality and all that.
But in terms of the job, the creation, and Alec Berg’s directing when he was here, Bill and Alec were great. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that. He would shoot so quickly that we would sometimes be out at 2 in the afternoon. That never happens! He managed to shoot only what he needed. I don’t know what to say about it. He doesn’t belong anywhere else.