In the weeks leading up to the July 16th Emmy nominations, Primetimer staff and contributors will be making our picks for which people (and shows) we think deserve recognition for their work this year. For your consideration today: Anthony Carrigan in HBO's Barry for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
There's no other character on TV quite like NoHo Hank. Played to perfection by Anthony Carrigan, the lovable Chechen gangster otherwise known as North Hollywood Henry is a big part of what makes Barry so special.
When the HBO black comedy first introduced Carrigan's strangely endearing villain in its inaugural season, he brought much needed comic relief to some tense sequences. Hank's cheery politeness while doling out torture instructions, and his excitement over mailing a bullet to a target (via DHL, of course) quickly established him as one of the show's integral components, but Season 2 really gave Carrigan some wild material to work with. His performance incites both laughter and empathy as this lover of cat memes, interior decorating, and Bitmoji reveals a serious soft spot for the titular Barry (Bill Hader), along with a desire to make something of himself.
There were plenty of other funny people on TV this past year, but Anthony Carrigan performed at a whole other level. His NoHo Hank is a singular creation, an intensely silly softie who's just as willing to casually shoot his "best friend" if he goes back on a deal, as he is to forgive and forget. There were so many memorable NoHo Hank moments in Barry's second season from his wigged appearance at Lululemon to his determination to build an army to win over his beloved Bolivian kingpin Cristobal.
And then there's the rooftop scene in the third episode of Barry's second season. NoHo Hank, pissed off at Barry for screwing up his hit on the head of the Burmese mafia, brings along his cohort Akhmal to take Barry out in his apartment. Predictably, since no one is as good a shot as the show's title character, they miss, and Barry shoots Akhmal in the shoulder before confronting them both. NoHo Hank stays totally serious as Barry holds him at gunpoint, urging him to pull the trigger, as he's a dead man anyway. When Barry can't do it, Hank's macho demeanor suddenly drops and he tries to shake it off, laughing nervously and declaring how "scary" that was, before vomiting with relief. Over the next minute or so, he goes from being absolutely terrified to doing a celebratory dance when Barry agrees to help him train his army.
That scene alone is enough to merit troves of awards. The emotional rollercoaster he takes viewers on is unmatched. Few performers could jump from tense drama to physical comedy so successfully. Through it all, Carrigan plays it straight from the heart; there's not a moment we doubt his sincerity. Every ditzy proclamation, every intense reaction -- it all feels thoroughly authentic (and utterly hilarious). No one has done what Carrigan did on that roof this year. No one.
If you can believe it, NoHo Hank was originally supposed to die in Barry's pilot. Had the character been played by any other actor, perhaps he would have, but now it's impossible to imagine the series without him. North Hollywood Henry simply would not exist without the brilliance of Anthony Carrigan. So don't forget him, Emmy voters. He is, like, a Super Nice Guy, after all.
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Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines and harboring dad-aged celebrity crushes. She was previously a reporter/producer at Decider and is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.